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Countess Bitch

Robert Tombs

16 November 1995
The Notorious Life of Gyp: Right-Wing Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle France 
by Willa Silverman.
Oxford, 325 pp., £24, June 1995, 0 19 508754 2
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... After his rapid demise, she transferred her admiration to the nationalist poet and agitator Paul Déroulède, her hero during the Dreyfus Affair, during which she had the time of her life, devoting her talents as satirist and cartoonist to the anti-semitic cause. Finally, she gave grudging approval to the radical Clemenceau – ‘A real Frenchman, very ...

Not in the Mood

Adam Shatz: Derrida’s Secrets

22 November 2012
Derrida: A Biography 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 629 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5615 1
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... a ‘precious but so vulnerable intruder’, since he was born after the death of an older son, Paul, at three months. His mother, Georgette, whom he adored, insisted on finishing a poker game when she went into labour with him (she was to remain sparing with her affection). But the event that established Derrida’s sense of being an outsider – the first ...


Edward Said: An encounter with J-P Sartre

1 June 2000
... Once the most celebrated intellectual, Jean-Paul Sartre had, until quite recently, almost faded from view. He was already being attacked for his ‘blindness’ about the Soviet gulags shortly after his death in 1980, and even his humanist Existentialism was ridiculed for its optimism, voluntarism and sheer energetic reach ...
15 September 1988
In for a Penny: The Unauthorised Biography of Jeffrey Archer 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 241 12478 6
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... the regimental archive. In 1987, the regimental secretary, Lt-Col Ronald Woodhouse, told Geoffrey Levy of the Daily Mail: ‘I am positive now that Sergeant Archer is in no way related to Jeffrey Archer, the author and politician.’ As for Archer the officer and Archer the consul, a trail through the Army and Diplomatic Lists fails to reveal any trace of a ...
15 May 1980
Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: The Major Film-Makers 
edited by Richard Roud.
Secker, 1120 pp., £25, February 1980, 9780436428302
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The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain 
by Michael Chanan.
Routledge, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0319 6
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... libraries. There were the Russian early fathers, of course, all tractors and montage; there was Paul Rotha; there were histories and how-to handbooks; there was Alistair Cooke’s 1937 anthology of film reviews, Garbo and the Night Watchmen. The rest was fanfare. Then came a challenge. In 1947, four years ahead of Cahiers du Cinéma, Lindsay Anderson and ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite

18 May 1989
The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... except his supercilious brazen bounciness. Hrabal’s style (or at least how it comes through Paul Wilson’s translation) is similarly freewheeling, exuberant, torrential, full of food and drink and wild scenes in cafés and athletic sexual encounters. Much of it strikes me as being more like what the Germans think of as uproariously funny than we ...


Peter Pomerantsev: Iammmmyookkraaanian

19 February 2015
... on ‘The Meaning of Ukrainian Pluralism for the Future of Europe, Russia and the World’, Paul Berman and François Heisbourg kept returning to the idea of Russia as a home for a kind of clerical nationalism, Ukraine as the battleground for liberal values. Were these grand visions, I wondered, actually playing into Putin’s hands? The Kremlin was ...

At Quai Branly

Jeremy Harding: Jacques Chirac’s museum

4 January 2007
...  ...

Playboy’s Paperwork

Patrick Collinson: Historiography and Elizabethan politics

11 November 1999
The World of the Favourite 
edited by J.H. Elliott and L.W.B. Brockliss.
Yale, 320 pp., £35, June 1999, 0 300 07644 4
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The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-97 
by Paul Hammer.
Cambridge, 468 pp., £45, June 1999, 0 521 43485 8
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... state. Within this general explanatory model, several emphases and refinements are possible. Linda Levy Peck focuses on the function of the monarch and of his court in dispensing the goodies of patronage in a situation of rising demand, demographically and economically induced, and static or falling supply. As the English case of Buckingham suggests, in such ...
17 September 1987
If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it 
by Ken Livingstone.
Collins, 367 pp., £12, August 1987, 0 00 217770 6
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A Taste of Power: The Politics of Local Economics 
edited by Maureen Mackintosh and Hilary Wainwright.
Verso, 441 pp., £22.95, July 1987, 0 86091 174 8
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... interests of the dispossessed. It suddenly became clear that the vast rates which the GLC could levy without much damage to anyone could be used to assist all kinds of people who badly needed help. For instance, the GLC immediately announced its plans for doing what Thatcher and Heseltine had said they could do – cut transport fares with a subsidy from ...

The Great British Economy Disaster

John Lanchester: A Very Good Election to Lose

11 March 2010
... Osborne’s nickname in the Bullingdon Club: he was an oik because he didn’t go to Eton, only St Paul’s.) It is the Opposition’s job to oppose, and perhaps the Tory high command did not want the financial crisis to resemble the Iraq war as a crisis where both the big parties disagreed with public opinion. But the practical effect of the opposingness has ...

Heathrow to Canary Wharf

Nick Richardson: Crossrail

11 October 2012
... more people are coming to work in the tightly packed central area,’ the then transport secretary Paul Channon wrote in the preface to the Central London Rail Study: ‘This is putting severe strains on London’s transport system.’ The study included a map of Central London’s train routes captioned ‘Extent of Overcrowding in 1987’, a spaghetti mess ...

Come and see for yourself

David A. Bell: Tocqueville

18 July 2013
Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty 
by Lucien Jaume, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Princeton, 347 pp., £24.95, April 2013, 978 0 691 15204 2
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... totalitarian temptations. American conservatives – notably the Straussian political scientist Paul Rahe – like to claim that Tocqueville’s ‘soft despotism’ has actually arrived in the form of the modern American welfare state, and the supposed ‘socialism’ of Obamacare. But many others worry less about contemporary democracy’s inherent ...

Forgive us our debts

Benjamin Kunkel: The History of Debt

10 May 2012
Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order 
by Philip Coggan.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, December 2011, 978 1 84614 510 0
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Debt: The First 5000 Years 
by David Graeber.
Melville House, 534 pp., £21.99, July 2011, 978 1 933633 86 2
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... rates, as for a few years it did. The decisive monetary event took place in October 1979, when Paul Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve, hiked interest rates to unprecedented levels, inducing a severe recession in North America and Europe as well as what came to be known as the Third World debt crisis, as the countries of the global South found that ...

Jottings, Scraps and Doodles

Adam Shatz: Lévi-Strauss

3 November 2011
Claude Levi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory 
by Patrick Wilcken.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 7475 8362 2
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... Célestin Bouglé, arranged for him to take up a chair in sociology at the University of São Paulo. Bouglé promised him he’d find Indians wandering around the suburbs, but that turned out not to be true. The Brazilian ambassador in Paris, himself of Indian ancestry, told him that Brazil’s Indians had all been exterminated. That, too, turned out to ...

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