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Productive Mischief

Michael Wood: Borges and Borges and I, 4 February 1999

Collected Fictions 
by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Allen Lane, 565 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 14 028680 2
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... Not everyone can be Whitman,’ Borges said in an interview in London long ago. He paused, pretending to reflect. ‘Not even Whitman could be Whitman.’ We knew Borges was only pretending to reflect because we recognised the joke and the timing as belonging so perfectly to him, a Borges short story in miniature, a shortest story ...

Stones

John Harvey, 6 August 1981

A Confederacy of Dunces 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Allen Lane, 338 pp., £7.95, May 1981, 9780713914221
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The Meeting at Telgte 
by Günter Grass, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Secker, 147 pp., £5.95, June 1981, 0 436 18778 7
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Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi 
by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy-Casares, translated by Norman Thomasdi Giovanni.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 7139 1421 1
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Penny Links 
by Ursula Holden.
Eyre Methuen, 156 pp., £5.50, May 1981, 0 413 47210 8
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... of Günter Grass’s latest novel shows a hand just emerging from a rubble of old stones and holding a quill. The quill is lightly and sensitively poised, the hand could be meaning to draw or to write as Grass himself both writes and draws. It is, that is to say, the hand of a writer who in his writing is an artist, and the drawing asks in effect: in a ...

How to vanish

Michael Dibdin, 23 April 1987

The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis 
by Humberto Costantini, translated by Norman Thomasdi Giovanni.
Fontana, 193 pp., £3.50, January 1987, 0 00 654180 1
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Requiem for a Woman’s Soul 
by Omar Rivabella, translated by Paul Riviera.
Penguin, 116 pp., £2.95, February 1987, 0 14 009773 2
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Words in Commotion, and Other Stories 
by Tommaso Landolfi, translated by Ring Jordan and Lydia Jordan.
Viking, 273 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 80518 1
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The Literature Machine 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Patrick Creagh.
Secker, 341 pp., £16, April 1987, 0 436 08276 4
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The St Veronica Gig Stories 
by Jack Pulaski.
Zephyr, 170 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 939010 09 7
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Kate Vaiden 
by Reynolds Price.
Chatto, 306 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 7011 3203 5
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... verb in question normally behaves intransitively, but in Argentina after 1976 it learned to take a direct object as the military regime disappeared between nine and twenty thousand people. Humberto Costantini and Omar Rivabella both write about this, but their approach is so different that ...

Don’t abandon me

Colm Tóibín: Borges and the Maids, 11 May 2006

Borges: A Life 
by Edwin Williamson.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, August 2005, 0 14 024657 6
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... On 9 March 1951, Seepersad Naipaul wrote from Trinidad to his son Vidia, who was an undergraduate at Oxford: ‘I am beginning to believe I could have been a writer.’ A month later, Vidia, in a letter to the entire family, wrote: ‘I hope Pa does write, even five hundred words a day ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... Neville and Sir John Clanvowe, ‘the Castor and Pollux of the Lollard movement’, as the medieval historian Bruce McFarlane called them. Neville died just four days after Clanvowe, the inscription records, in October 1391. The Westminster Chronicle fills in the details. Following the death of Clanvowe, ‘for whom ...

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