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Extenuating Circumstances

Adam Phillips: Paul Steinberg, 19 July 2001

Speak You Also: A Survivor’s Reckoning 
by Paul Steinberg, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Allen Lane, 176 pp., £9.99, May 2001, 0 7139 9540 8
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... moot point that Levi is not keen to consider. But now we have Henri’s own version of events – Paul Steinberg was his real name – in a book written forty years after the event. A book in other words long digested, written with a great deal of hindsight, and indeed foresight; a book all too mindful of the Holocaust industry and so of the genre in ...

Russian hearts are strange

Andrew Solomon, 20 June 1996

The Romanovs: The Final Chapter 
by Robert Massie.
Cape, 308 pp., £17.99, November 1995, 0 224 04192 4
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The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution 
by Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev.
Yale, 444 pp., £18.50, November 1995, 0 300 06557 4
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... orderly world of kings and queens and emperors and empresses falls on their narrow shoulders. Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev’s Fall of the Romanovs is a collection of documents from the very end of the tsarist period which tells the story of Nicholas’s last days. Robert Massie’s The Romanovs: The Final Chapter tells what happened to the Romanovs ...

Capos and Cardinals

Jonathan Steinberg, 17 August 1989

Fascism and the Mafia 
by Christopher Duggan.
Yale, 322 pp., £19.95, January 1989, 0 300 04372 4
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A Thief in the Night: The Death of Pope John Paul
by John Cornwell.
Viking, 301 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 670 82387 2
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... to an official summons to investigate the strange story of the 33-day Pontificate of Pope John Paul I, who died on the night of 28-29 September 1978. To his and the reader’s surprise, Cornwell found doors and mouths open which he expected to be shut. At one point he found himself literally looking at the ear of his Holiness Pope John ...


Jonathan Steinberg, 18 December 1986

Strangers in their own Land: Young Jews in Germany and Austria Today 
by Peter Sichrovsky and Thomas Keneally.
Tauris, 177 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 1 85043 033 0
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Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland 
by Malgorzata Niezabitowska and Tomasz Tomaszewski, translated by William Brand and Hanna Dobosiewicz.
Friendly Press, 272 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 914919 05 9
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The Jews in Poland 
edited by Chimen Abramsky, Maciej Jachimczyk and Antony Polonsky.
Blackwell, 264 pp., £29.50, September 1986, 0 631 14857 4
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... community of young Polish Jews. The last chapter, set just before a picture of Pope John Paul II praying at the Heroes of the Ghetto Monument in Warsaw, carries an interview with Szymon Datner PhD, vice-president of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland and the author of 15 books on German crimes in Poland and the fate of the Jews. He calls ...

Not very good at drawing

Nicholas Penny: Titian, 6 June 2013

Titian: His Life 
by Sheila Hale.
Harper, 832 pp., £30, July 2012, 978 0 00 717582 6
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... dimension that Titian has added by showing Philandrier eagerly taking dictation. ‘Pope Paul III and His Grandsons’ (1546). Titian’s genius as a narrative painter is more apparent in his two great group portraits of the 1540s, the Vendramin Family venerating a Relic of the True Cross and Pope Paul III and ...

Excellent Enigmas

Christopher Reid, 24 January 1980

Lies and Secrets 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 70 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 436 16753 0
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by John Matthias.
Anvil, 125 pp., £3.25, October 1980, 0 85646 035 4
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Growing Up 
by Michael Horovitz.
Allison and Busby, 96 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 85031 232 9
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Report to the Working Party. Asylum. Otiose [preceded by] After 
by Anthony Barnett.
Nothing Doing, 121 pp., £4.80, August 1980, 0 901494 17 8
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... Poems and Pictures 1951 – 79’. The jacket of the book is crammed with testimonials, the way a Steinberg document carries paragraphs of flamboyant, but meaningless, calligraphy. Ginsberg, Beckett and Kathleen Raine, inter alios, seem to admire the man, but I found him a lazy word-spinner, unclear, hectically rhetorical, and too often mawkish or twee. The ...

A Suspect in the Eyes of Super-Patriots

Charles Simic: Vasko Popa, 18 March 1999

Collected Poems of Vasko Popa 
translated by Anne Pennington.
Anvil, 464 pp., £12.95, January 1998, 0 85646 268 3
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... dignity and heroic forbearance of the Everyman-Sisyphus figure pushing his rock – or, as Saul Steinberg has it in the old cartoon, pushing a huge, boulder-like question-mark – up a hill. The poems that elicited most controversy were the cycles ‘Landscapes’ and ‘List’. Here’s ‘On the Table’, a poem from the former: The tablecloth stretches ...

How to vanish

Michael Dibdin, 23 April 1987

The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis 
by Humberto Costantini, translated by Norman Thomas di 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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... disconcerting – Ovid and Robbe-Grillet, Voltaire and slapstick comedy, Guido Cavalcanti and Saul Steinberg, Pliny and the Guinness Book of Records, a version of Manzoni’s The Betrothed by de Sade – and the itinerary is eclectic: Ariosto, Marianne Moore, Fourier, Northrop Frye, Stendahl and Cyrano de Bergerac (the author, not the play). But despite the ...

Just How It was

Anne Hollander: The work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, 7 May 1998

Tête à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson 
edited by E.H. Gombrich.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £32, February 1998, 9780500542187
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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans 
edited by Jean Clair.
Thames and Hudson, 231 pp., £29.95, January 1998, 0 500 28052 5
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... inwardly seized by a looming work in progress. Sometimes the arrangement is very tight. Here is Paul Valéry (wrongly labelled 1946; he died in 1945) leaning on a mantelpiece. He looks at us full face from the left side of the picture, where his pinstriped shoulder partly hides a vase of flowers, and a flowered dish sits near him. Nearer us, a small marble ...

The Vanishing Brothel

Linda Nochlin, 6 March 1997

A Life of Picasso. Vol. II: 1907-1917 
by John Richardson and Marilyn McCully.
Cape, 500 pp., £30, November 1996, 0 224 03120 1
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Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 398 pp., £25, November 1996, 0 316 88173 2
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Picasso and the Spanish Tradition 
edited by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 208 pp., £30, November 1996, 0 300 06475 6
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... formed by the outline of an adjunctive penis. At still other times, a male sitter, the poet Paul Eluard, is portrayed in the guise of Van Gogh’s L’ Arlésienne, nursing a cat at his bright green breast Far less than Matisse does Picasso restrict his obsessive figural investigations to the female subject. During the Cubist period, especially, the ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed, 5 February 2015

Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... had adopted it as his own,’ she writes. The key aim of the sanctions, according to her aide Jim Steinberg, was to make Iran ‘feel that it had no champions, no place to turn, no out’. In this view, sanctions are a means of solitary confinement for rogue nations, which undercuts the claim that they are a humane alternative to ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?, 20 March 2008

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... majority leader, George Mitchell; the two heads of the Senate budget committee, James Sasser and Paul Sarbanes; and, as an apparent afterthought, one of Bourke’s summer neighbours, David Rockefeller. Getting wind of the commercial initiative, the NIH offered Venter more power, more autonomy and even more money, and in the UK the Wellcome responded ...


Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... thighs are concealed by dancing draperies, and since I’m currently reading the new edition of Steinberg’s The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion, I scan the floating linens for the erection Steinberg often manages to detect, though not, I think, here. In the crowd at the foot of the Cross is a ...

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