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Thomas Jones: Say Cheese

21 February 2002
... ask their subjects to say ‘kaas’? – but suspect it might, if only on the basis of Willem Elsschot’s comic masterpiece, Kaas, now available for the first time in English, in a translation by PaulVincent (Granta, £10). Willem Elsschot was the pseudonym of Alfons De Ridder (1882-1960), an advertising executive who wrote novels in his spare time, ‘unbeknownst to his family’. Kaas was ...
9 October 1986
Murder at the Farm: Who killed Carl Bridgewater? 
by Paul​ Foot.
Sidgwick, 273 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 283 99165 8
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... ten jurors. And this is why criminal trials are not designed to arrive at anything so baffling or protean as the truth: their sole purpose, it has been said, is to answer the question ‘Howzat?’ Paul Foot’s question, who killed Carl Bridgewater? was not the question before the jury which in 1979 at Stafford convicted three men and a boy of shooting in cold blood a 13-year-old lad who had ...
7 December 1989
... Garrington remembered seeing the men lined up, as though for punishment, scarred and beaten. The judges said of Garrington: ‘The kindest explanation is that his memory was playing him tricks.’ PC Paul Berry, a serving officer, said he had seen one of the men with a cut lip and a black eye. His evidence, said the judges, ‘does not help the appeal’. Two officers from Winson Green Prison at the ...
10 May 1990
Disraeli 
by John Vincent.
Oxford, 127 pp., £4.95, March 1990, 0 19 287681 3
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... his biting sarcasm to the service of the Tories, always able to command an appreciative audience, albeit one with greater relish for his wit than respect for his political judgment. So much for John Vincent, the brilliant author of The Formation of the Liberal Party who became the populist professor of the Thatcherite tabloid press. Whatever else he has lost in the process, it is not his ironic sense of ...
9 June 1994
... My number is unlisted and I do not encourage the Central Exchange to connect me to international calls. I get enough correspondence from TV tycoons and assorted maniacs by mail.’ In a letter to Paul Theroux about the American edition of The Old Patagonian Express he referred to a scene where Theroux had said ‘every reply broke my heart’: ‘I don’t believe that one’s heart can break more ...

For Those Who Don’t Know

Julian Bell: Van Gogh’s Letters

5 November 2009
Vincent​ van Gogh: The Letters 
edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker, translated by Michael Hoyle et al.
Thames and Hudson, 2180 pp., £395, October 2009, 978 0 500 23865 3
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... these are the furnishings and fittings the story is supplied with. That plump 19th-century upholstery gets savaged and shredded in the course of all that follows. Repeatedly, the words and deeds of Vincent van Gogh stab at the framework beneath. With a peculiar and terrible force, his letters pit the reader against what’s hard in art and what’s cold in money, lashing out in search of something that ...

Love Stories

Edmund White

4 November 1993
To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life: A Novel 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Quartet, 246 pp., £12.95, November 1991, 9780704370005
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The Man in the Red Hat 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 111 pp., £12.95, May 1993, 0 7043 7046 8
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The Compassion Protocol 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 202 pp., £13.95, October 1993, 9780704370593
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... one parallel in English today, Dennis Cooper’s narratives about murdering boys, Frisk and Closer. Two years later, in 1989, Guibert brought out his purest, most idiosyncratic love story, Fou de Vincent. It is the tale of an abortive affair with someone totally ‘unsuitable’. When a friend meets Vincent he asks Guibert: ‘Who’s that?’ On discovering the kid’s name he says: ‘That’s ...

Entanglements

V.G. Kiernan

4 August 1983
The Working Class in Modern British History: Essays in Honour of Henry Pelling 
edited by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 315 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 521 23444 1
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The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working-Class Radicalism and Culture, 1830-60 
edited by James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £16, November 1982, 0 333 32971 6
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Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of 19th-Century Working Class Autobiography 
by David Vincent.
Methuen, 221 pp., £4.95, December 1982, 0 416 34670 7
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... preacher like Spurgeon. Hardie’s insistence on his own policies and methods led to unseemly squabbles with the paper’s backers, and recent research seems to show him in no very creditable light. Paul Addison begins a commentary on Churchill’s career before 1914 by noting that it ‘depended in many respects on his relations with the urban working class’. His first constituency was Oldham. He ...

No 1 Writer

John Sutherland

5 September 1985
Glitz 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 251 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 670 80571 8
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LaBrava 
by Elmore Leonard.
Penguin, 283 pp., £2.50, July 1985, 0 14 007238 1
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Stick 
by Elmore Leonard.
Penguin, 304 pp., £2.50, August 1985, 0 14 007083 4
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The Hunting Season 
by J.K. Mayo.
Collins, 253 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 00 222783 5
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... and screenplay for what has been solemnly judged – by the Western writers’ association – one of the 20 best works ever in the genre, Hombre. The film was directed by Martin Ritt, and starred Paul Newman, with Richard Boone taking the acting honours as the psychopathic adversary. Hombre is patently a remake of Stagecoach. But whereas John Ford’s passengers were a cross-sectional mixture of ...
14 May 1992
Paul​ Touvier et l’église 
by René Rémond.
Fayard, 417 pp., frs 130, February 1992, 9782213028804
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... Just after 8 o’clock on the morning of Wednesday, 24 May 1989, a special unit of gendarmes entered the priory of Saint François at Nice in search of a certain Paul Touvier, who was living there under the name of Paul Lacroix. An arrest was made and within half an hour Touvier was on his way to Fresnes prison in Paris. He was eventually installed in its hospital ...
4 August 1994
Dearest Pet: On Bestiality 
by Midas Dekkers, translated by Paul Vincent.
Verso, 208 pp., £18.95, June 1994, 0 86091 462 3
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... Animal lovers​ who read this book – and no one else will, or should, read it – will not be able to put it down, but they will come away from it feeling vaguely uncomfortable. The subject itself would tend to make the book one long dirty joke; but the issues it raises are deadly serious, touching the tender spots of racism, sexism, sexual abuse and, indeed, the nature of sexual otherness. First ...

Je m’en Foucault

Vincent​ Descombes

5 March 1987
Foucault: A Critical Reader 
edited by David Hoy.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £27.50, September 1986, 0 631 14042 5
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Foucault 
by Gilles Deleuze.
Minuit, 141 pp., frs 58, February 1986, 2 7073 1086 7
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... Foucault IV? Is he the French philosopher whose thinking has been systematised by Deleuze? Or is he the philosopher discussed in the volume edited by Hoy, the philosopher who, as Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow tell us, was able to go ‘beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics’? The purpose of Hoy’s collection is to present the state of the discussion ‘from an Anglo-American perspective’. Some ...

Progress Past

Paul​ Langford

8 November 1990
The Idea of Progress in 18th-Century Britain 
by David Spadafora.
Yale, 464 pp., £22.50, July 1990, 0 300 04671 5
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George III and the Satirists from Hogarth to Byron 
by Vincent​ Carretta.
Georgia, 389 pp., £38.50, June 1990, 0 8203 1146 4
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... It is customary to claim the idea of progress as one of the distinguishing features of Western civilisation: indeed the very success of the West is sometimes attributed to confidence in its own destiny in this respect. Its peculiar saving mission, that of liberating mankind by means of the creation of wealth, would make little sense without some underlying faith in the prospect, perhaps even the certainty ...

Sinking by Inches

Anne Enright: Ireland’s Recession

7 January 2010
... Last year, the Society of St Vincent de Paul spent €6.1 million giving people in Ireland food. This year, it says that requests for food are up 50 per cent, that calls in general are up 35 per cent and in Dublin 50 per cent, and that 25 per ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Head Shot’

24 May 2012
... inside Kennedy’s body and reflect backward up from inside his back toward his neck bones, striking a vertebra, reflecting again at a high angle before exiting just below his Adam’s apple,’ Paul Chambers writes in Head Shot: The Science behind the JFK Assassination, published in 2010 and now appearing in an expanded edition. Chambers, a shock physicist, has worked for Nasa (optics branch ...

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