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Changes of Heart

Prue Shaw, 23 May 1985

by Nicholas Mann.
Oxford, 121 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 19 287610 4
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Petrarch: Poet and Humanist 
by Kenelm Foster.
Edinburgh, 214 pp., £9, July 1984, 0 85224 485 1
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... all Petrarch’s works – even, or perhaps especially, the most autobiographical ones – makes Mann an agnostic on questions of fact where Petrarch is our sole witness. He is non-committal on whether Laura really existed; whether the celebrated ascent of Mont Ventoux ever took place; even, it seems, whether Petrarch was crowned poet laureate on the ...

On Saving the Warburg

Charles Hope, 4 December 2014

... terms. ‘There is no plan by the university to break any trusts,’ Davies and the dean of SAS, Nicholas Mann, stated in 2007. This sounded reassuring, but it emerged in the recent court proceedings that no one in the university bothered to show the trust deed even to their in-house legal adviser until the summer of 2008. Up to that time the university ...


Daniel Johnson, 20 June 1996

The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... for all Jünger’s intelligence, from a conceptual currency debased by moral idiocy. According to Nicholas Boyle in his Foreword to The Dear Purchase, when this monograph appeared one of Stern’s older colleagues told him: ‘If you want to get on, do not write this sort of thing again.’ Stern, Boyle adds, ‘was incensed. He continued writing, and, in ...

Mental Arithmetic

Nicholas Wade, 7 January 1993

Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics 
by James Gleick.
Little, Brown, 532 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90316 7
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... a great deal of time and energy generating anecdotes about himself,’ his colleague Murray Gell-Mann announced at Feynman’s memorial service, firmly flouting the nil nisi bonum convention. Feynman was also, among other things, a jerk. At his father’s funeral, he refused to recite the Kaddish, making his mother break down and cry. He seduced and ...

Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

... later call, applying the term to a very different kind of music, ‘entartete Kunst’. Thomas Mann was to satirise this attitude in Buddenbrooks, where Edmund Pfühl, the local organist, refuses to play excerpts from Tristan because of the music’s immorality: ‘I cannot play that, my dear lady!’ he says to Gerda, ‘I am your most devoted servant but ...


Peter Burke, 20 March 1986

Velazquez: Painter and Courtier 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 322 pp., £35, March 1986, 0 300 03466 0
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El Greco and his Patrons: Three Major Projects 
by Richard Mann.
Cambridge, 164 pp., £35, February 1986, 0 521 30392 3
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... as a Stoic painter, practising the virtues of restraint and discretion they recommended. Richard Mann’s study of El Greco’s patrons is highly appropriate to a new series of monographs on art history of which the editors are Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny. It is the author’s first book, a revised version of a ...

Cradles in the Portego

Nicholas Penny: Renaissance Venice, 5 January 2006

The New Palaces of Medieval Venice 
by Juergen Schulz.
Pennsylvania State, 368 pp., £61.50, July 2004, 0 271 02351 1
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Private Lives in Renaissance Venice 
by Patricia Fortini Brown.
Yale, 312 pp., £35, October 2004, 0 300 10236 4
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... the city and his death there, and his significance for d’Annunzio, Barrès, Nietzsche and Thomas Mann, before stepping back to the success of Verdi’s Otello with its libretto by Camillo Boito’s brother, Arrigo. All of this occupies a fairly small section in the middle of her book. Lovers of the city may find something she has missed (I regret that there ...

The Phonic and the Phoney

Nicholas Spice: Being Hans Keller, 4 February 2021

Hans Keller 1919-85: A Musician in Dialogue with His Times 
by Alison Garnham and Susi Woodhouse.
Routledge, 421 pp., £34.99, December 2018, 978 1 138 39104 8
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... minutiae as though the future of civilisation depended on it. There’s a long letter to William Mann taking him to task for his misconception of the umlaut; and, in the LRB archive, a hilarious correspondence, from the early 1980s, between Keller and the editors, about the distinction between the colon and the semi-colon, the use of the dash, the different ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... of course, be furnished: C. Day Lewis was free to write detective fiction under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake and so not soil the reputation of the serious poet. Pseudonymy is essentially a disguise, a device for throwing readers off the scent. For absolute security’s sake the choice of assumed name should be arbitrary and inscrutable. In some ...

A Talent for Beginnings

Michael Wood: Musil starts again, 15 April 1999

Diaries 1899-1942 
by Robert Musil, translated by Philip Payne.
Basic Books, 557 pp., £27.50, January 1999, 0 465 01650 2
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... 1918. No one knows war is coming, and with it the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself. As Nicholas Spice said, writing about the novel a year and a half or so ago (LRB, 16 October 1997), it is part of its genius to make us almost forget the catastrophe which hangs over it. ‘Almost but not quite: we experience the unreal and troubled somnolence of ...

Possible Enemies

M.A. Screech, 16 June 1983

Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. V: The Correspondence of Erasmus 
edited by Peter Bietenholz, translated by R.A.B Mynors.
Toronto, 462 pp., £68.25, December 1979, 0 8020 5429 3
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Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. XXXI: Adages Ii 1 to Iv 100 
edited by R.A.B. Mynors, translated by Margaret Mann Phillips.
Toronto, 420 pp., £51.80, December 1982, 0 8020 2373 8
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Le Disciple de Pantagruel 
edited by Guy Demerson and Christiane Lauvergnat-Gagnière.
Nizet, 98 pp.
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... meaning ‘pottery jar’. The translation – an excellent one – is the work of Dr Margaret Mann Phillips (whose first book on the Adages appeared some twenty years ago and was received with enthusiasm). Help with the translation is given by an impressive team. The only slight regret is that the translation of the proverbs themselves is not always ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... Marx, Vincente Minnelli, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Robert Ryan, Edward G. Robinson, Donna Reed, Nicholas Ray, Robert Siodmak, Frank Sinatra, Sylvia Sidney, Claire Trevor, Franchot Tone, Walter Wanger, Keenan Wynn, William Wyler, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Jerry Wald and Robert Young. Ronald Reagan, a New Deal Democrat at the time (and an FBI informant ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... vulgar as gravure advertisements for kitchenware. It is worth emphasising how far Penn, Anthony Mann, Fuller, Nicholas Ray and Peckinpah have disproved those rosy, statuesque images. Could Ford match the harrowing historical perspective of Little Big Man, the moral ambiguity of The Far Country, the painful violence of Run ...

Canetti and Power

John Bayley, 17 December 1981

Auto da Fé 
by Elias Canetti, translated by C.V. Wedgwood.
Cape, 464 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 224 00568 5
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The Tongue Set Free: Remembrance of a European Childhood 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 268 pp., $12.95, June 1979, 0 8164 9103 8
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The Human Province 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 281 pp., $12.95, June 1978, 0 8164 9335 9
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Crowds and Power 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Carol Stewart.
Penguin, 575 pp., £2.95, October 1978, 0 14 003616 4
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Kafka’s Other Trial: The Letters to Felice 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Christopher Middleton.
Marion Boyars, 121 pp., £5.95, October 1976, 0 7145 1136 6
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The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit 
by Elias Canetti, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Marion Boyars, 103 pp., £5.50, January 1978, 0 7145 2579 0
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The Conscience of Words 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.
Continuum, 246 pp., $12.95, May 1979, 0 8164 9334 0
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... writers usually do, nonetheless. ‘Fame wants to find safety,’ as Canetti has put it. Thomas Mann was notorious for his self-importance and his suspicion of anyone whom he felt might be detecting signs of weakness in him; Thomas Hardy spent his last days writing venomously bad verses against fellow authors whom he felt had patronised him. Across the ...

The Next Fix

Lara Pawson: African Oil, 7 February 2008

Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil 
by Nicholas Shaxson.
Palgrave, 280 pp., £15.99, May 2007, 978 1 4039 7194 4
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Oil Wars 
edited by Mary Kaldor, Terry Lynn Karl and Yahia Said.
Pluto, 294 pp., £17.99, March 2008, 978 0 7453 2478 4
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Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil 
by John Ghazvinian.
Harcourt Brace, 320 pp., $25, April 2007, 978 0 15 101138 4
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... Saudi Arabia to become its chief supplier. In Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil, Nicholas Shaxson argues that these developments are alarming. While the people who live in Africa’s big oil-producing countries are getting poorer and angrier, their leaders ‘have a rising tide of money at their disposal’ and are ‘fit for mischief’. He ...

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