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23 May 1985
Petrarch 
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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... writer which are equally compelling. The blurring of the boundary between fact and fiction evident in 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 ...

Deliverance

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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... in order to demonstrate how a profound impoverishment of literary sensibility might result, 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 ...
4 December 2014
... Davies, had already assured me and the directors of the other institutes that he would respect its terms. ‘There is no plan by the university to break any trusts,’ Davies and the dean of SAS, NicholasMann, 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 ...

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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... chosen too obvious a combination number. ‘He surrounded himself with a cloud of myth, and he spent 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 ...

Sunflower

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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... of works by the Neo-Stoic writer Justus Lipsius. It may not be altogether fanciful to see Velazquez 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 ...

Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas​ Spice

11 April 2013
... of self-control and moral atrophy. It acquired a reputation as degenerate, as what the Germans would 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 ...

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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... book on Pandora, that all Europe talks of her ‘box’ because Erasmus slipped up over a word 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 ...

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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... interwoven with an evocation of Boito’s disturbing fiction. Then she explores Wagner’s work in 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 ...

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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... In 1913, the year in which the novel is set, the Dual Monarchy is planning a great celebration for 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 ...

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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... China now imports more than a quarter of its oil from African countries and Angola has overtaken 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 ...

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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... Henry Hathaway, Van Heflin, Fritz Lang, Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, Burgess Meredith, Groucho 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 ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland

17 July 1980
Duffy 
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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... more, if only to divest themselves of oppressive respectability. Some instances of slumming can, 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 ...
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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... Indeed the modesty and the dignity make the same point: why make a fuss about your greatness? Great 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 ...

Tomorrow it’ll all be over

Nicholas​ Spice: The Trouble with Philip Roth’s ‘Everyman’

25 May 2006
Everyman 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 182 pp., £10, May 2006, 0 224 07869 0
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... couldn’t be immortal/if only for a moment.’ Allusions to Death in Venice have cropped up more than once in Roth’s more recent novels. It isn’t difficult to think of Everyman as his tribute to Mann. And if we think of it this way, then the last page may seem especially touching, as it acknowledges that, while Everyman may be Aschenbach, his Tadzio, as he sinks into his final unconsciousness, is ...

Why do you make me do it?

David Bromwich: Robert Ryan

18 February 2016
... gestures that the audience can be carried along with him. Men in War (1957) brought Ryan as close as he ever came to an ordinary heroic role. This was the second of three films he made with Anthony Mann (coming between The Naked Spur and God’s Little Acre): evidently the happiest of his relationships with a major director, though he did remarkable work for Nicholas Ray (Born to Be Bad, On ...

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