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On the Game

Kathryn Tidrick, 22 December 1994

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer 
by Patrick French.
HarperCollins, 440 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 00 215733 0
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... punitive rigour that it was promptly disowned by the British Government. What possessed him? As French’s book fascinatingly reveals, Younghusband was indeed possessed, by an extreme and addled version of the Imperial philosophy. Though it required another forty years (the rest of his life) for his ideas to be worked out in all their mystical glory, even ...

French Air

John Sutherland, 12 November 1987

The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the French Social Imagination 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Miriam Kochan.
Berg, 307 pp., £18, November 1986, 0 907582 47 8
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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer 
by Patrick Süskind, translated by John Woods.
Penguin, 263 pp., £3.95, September 1987, 0 14 009244 7
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The Double Bass 
by Patrick Süskind, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 57 pp., £8.95, September 1987, 9780241120392
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... and the Fragrant is a ragbag of a book which surrounds and probes the subject of ‘Odour and the French Social Imagination’ from all sorts of different directions. One approach is physiological. It is the peculiarity of the nose to be physically adjacent to the brain, which explains the sub-verbal short-cut Proust takes between the madeleine and the ...

On Rosemary Tonks

Patrick McGuinness: Rosemary Tonks, 2 July 2015

... the allure of city life, the exoticisation of its underside (what she calls, in a line that evokes Patrick Hamilton, ‘the flavour beneath the flagstones’ of London), the push-pull of fascination and disgust – what emerges most strongly from reading her is that she shares their fascination with decay; or, more exactly, the cusp of decay. It’s what the ...

First-Class Fellow Traveller

Terry Eagleton, 2 December 1993

Patrick Hamilton: A Life 
by Sean French.
Faber, 327 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 571 14353 9
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... Stalinist, alcoholic, sexually ambivalent, Patrick Hamilton had all the prerequisites of a successful Thirties writer. That his success was uneven would seem simply another sign of the times, the mark of an epoch grimly wedded to failure. His work was praised by Greene, Priestley, Lessing, Powell; but if he survives today it is for a couple of memorably macabre dramas – Rope and Gaslight – which Hamilton himself scorned as callow sensationalism ...


Patrick Mauriès: Halfway between France and Britain, 3 November 1983

... of British culture which is associated with it. And it is that of the représentatif (as the French say – apologetically, it always seems) of a no less particular fringe of the Parisian intelligentsia (another catch-phrase). Contemporary British culture can also be said to have two main aspects. On the one hand, there is its love of the same – its ...

Inventing Africa

Caroline Moorehead, 18 September 1980

Fantastic Invasion 
by Patrick Marnham.
Cape, 271 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 224 01829 9
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Images of Africa 
by Naomi Mitchison.
Canongate, 139 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 903937 70 0
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... We owe much to your country,’ the Anglican archbishop of Uganda told Patrick Marnham shortly before being shot in 1977. ‘We need you, and not just your knowledge; we need your fellowship. Most people here know this. What we have become, you made us.’ The tragedy of this statement suffuses Fantastic Invasion, the record Patrick Marnham brought back with him from a series of visits to West and East Africa ...

Funny Old Fame

Patrick Parrinder, 10 January 1991

Things: A Story of the Sixties, 
by Georges Perec, translated by David Bellos and Andrew Leak.
Collins Harvill, 221 pp., £12.50, July 1990, 0 00 271038 2
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Parcours Peree 
edited by Mireille Ribière.
Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 162 pp., frs 125, July 1990, 2 7297 0365 9
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by Philippe Sollers, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 559 pp., $24.95, December 1990, 0 231 06546 9
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... Once upon a time, before the Channel Tunnel was built, there were two contemporary French novelists. Georges Perec died in 1982 at the age of 45, and nobody in England who was not a French specialist had ever heard of him. With Philippe Sollers it was different. Editor of the avant-garde theoretical journal Tel Quel, and associate of literary and psycho-analytic thinkers such as Barthes, Kristeva and Lacan, his was a name of which no self-respecting British intellectual could afford to remain entirely ignorant – though his novels, so far as I can discover, were neither translated nor read ...

Promenade Dora-Bruder

Adam Shatz: Patrick Modiano, 22 September 2016

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Euan Cameron.
MacLehose, 160 pp., £8.99, September 2016, 978 0 85705 499 9
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... In​ 1966, a young writer named Patrick Modiano published his first short story, a satire set in a summer concentration camp called ‘Saint-Tropez-Ravensbrück’. Surrounded by ‘charming Kapos’, the inmates – ‘children of Himmler and Coca-Cola’ – are lulled into submission by LSD and hedonism. Paris’s leading artists and intellectuals praise the camp; Jean-Luc Godard offers to shoot a collaborationist film ...

Bogey Man

Richard Mayne, 15 July 1982

Camus: A Critical Study of his Life and Work 
by Patrick McCarthy.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 241 10603 6
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Albert Camus: A Biography 
by Herbert Lottman.
Picador, 753 pp., £3.95, February 1981, 0 330 26262 9
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The Narcissistic Text: A Reading of Camus’s Fiction 
by Brian Fitch.
Toronto, 128 pp., £12.25, April 1982, 0 8020 2426 2
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The Outsider 
by Albert Camus, translated by Joseph Laredo.
Hamish Hamilton, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1982, 0 241 10778 4
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... Introduction to the 1946 translation of L’Etranger, was that he ‘played a notable part in the French Resistance Movement’. The much-photographed figure in a trench coat, with Humphrey Bogart features, certainly looked like Hollywood’s idea of an underground hero. In fact, Camus derailed no more trains than Sartre. What he did do, from the winter of ...

Notes for ‘Anatole’s Tomb’

Stéphane Mallarmé, translated by Patrick McGuinness: A Translation by Patrick McGuinness, 14 November 2002

... he wrote, and this dictum has come to stand for many of the ambitions and achievements of French Symbolism. Yet, unlike many of his Symbolist contemporaries, Mallarmé was not a poet of vagueness, of half-tones and pastel shades (like Verlaine), or of the intermittently perceived, imprecisely expressed (like Maeterlinck, whose theatre of silence he ...


Patrick Wormald, 19 November 1981

Roman Britain 
by Peter Salway.
Oxford, 824 pp., £19.50, August 1981, 9780198217176
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Roman Britain 
by Malcolm Tood.
Fontana, 285 pp., £2.95, May 1981, 0 00 633756 2
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... have nothing from the pens of known British provincials before the Christian writers, Pelagius and Patrick, from the last years of the province’s history. A simple comparison of the English and French languages shows that Romanitas was eventually lost to Britannia in ways that it was not to Gallia. Yet again, Roman Britain ...


Paul Theroux: Out of Sir Vidia’s Shadow, 24 February 2022

... posterity, he had interviewed a number of potential writers to undertake an authorised biography. Patrick French got the job. The World Is What It Is (2008) is long, detailed and discursive. It was a painful book to read, because much of Naipaul’s life was lived in struggle, pain, occasionally rage, depression and disturbance. But there was a ...


Patrick McGuinness: Railway Poetry, 2 November 2017

... in there was enticing, though a huge exaggeration, and the ‘amont’ was poetic – en amont in French means ‘upstream’ – so the place had a promising swagger to it, in name at least. Rimbaud himself had come through Libramont many times when he was ‘en libre amont’ – in full, free spate, ripping his way upstream of the police, his debtors, his ...

Eagle v. Jellyfish

Theo Tait: Edward St Aubyn, 2 June 2011

At Last 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 266 pp., £16.99, May 2011, 978 0 330 43590 1
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... Edward St Aubyn began writing his Patrick Melrose novels in 1988. He finished At Last, the fifth and supposedly final book in the series, late in 2010. St Aubyn is a terrific prose stylist and, end to end, these 800 or so pages, covering more than 40 years, add up to something incontestably grand, the nearest we have today to the great cycles of upper-class English life published in the decades after the war – Dance to the Music of Time or Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour ...

Austere and Manly Attributes

Patrick Collinson, 3 April 1997

The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney’s ‘Arcadia’ and Elizabethan Politics 
by Blair Worden.
Yale, 406 pp., £40, October 1996, 0 300 06693 7
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... to marry, relates to the master-card in the 1578 strategy of appeasement: a royal match with the French King’s brother, Francois, Duke of Anjou. It would be an inexpensive way of turning Anjou’s unpredictable and unprincipled cavortings in the French and Dutch religious wars to England’s advantage. Elizabeth’s ...

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