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Fill it with fish

Helen Cooper: The trail of the Grail, 6 June 2002

Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A Grail Romance Retold for Our Time 
by Lindsay Clarke.
HarperCollins, 239 pp., £14.99, September 2001, 0 00 710813 3
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Merlin and the Grail: ‘Joseph of Arimathea’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Perceval’ The Trilogy of Arthurian Romances Attributed to Robert de Boron 
translated by Nigel Bryant.
Boydell and Brewer, 172 pp., £30, May 2001, 0 85991 616 2
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Le Livre du Graal. Tome I: ‘Joseph D’Arimathie’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Les Premiers Faits du Roi Arthur’ 
edited by Daniel Poirion and Philippe Walter.
Gallimard, 1993 pp., £50.95, April 2001, 2 07 011342 6
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... early stages in this process are outlined by Bryant, and their development is traced forwards in Philippe Walter’s more substantial prefatory material to the first of a projected three parallel-text volumes. Joseph of Arimathea remains the hero of the first part of this new Graal, and the romance follows his adventures across a legendary Middle East ...

No Peep of Protest

Barbara Newman: Medieval Marriage, 19 July 2018

Conduct Becoming: Good Wives and Husbands in the Later Middle Ages 
by Glenn Burger.
Pennsylvania, 262 pp., £50, September 2017, 978 0 8122 4960 6
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... after his death.* Other specimens include Christine de Pizan’s Treasure of the City of Ladies, Philippe de Mézières’s On the Virtue of the Sacrament of Marriage, a Middle English work called How the Good Wife Taught Her Daughter, and many more. The wife with the broken nose is typical of the exempla such texts supply to frighten young brides into ...

‘Because I am French!’

Ruth Scurr: Marie Antoinette’s Daughter, 3 July 2008

Marie-Thérèse: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter 
by Susan Nagel.
Bloomsbury, 418 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 1 59691 057 7
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... des Tuileries. He was well aware of the affinity between his subjects and ‘the heroines of Walter Scott’. Going a step further than James Fenimore Cooper, who saw the Duchesse d’Angoulême in Paris after the Restoration and remarked ‘I never see this woman without a feeling of commiseration and respect,’ Imbert de Saint Amand wrote about her ...

Family Stories

Patrice Higonnet, 4 August 1994

The Past in French History 
by Robert Gildea.
Yale, 416 pp., £30, February 1994, 0 300 05799 7
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La Gauche survivra-t-elle aux socialistes? 
by Jean-Marie Colombani.
Flammarion, 213 pp., frs 105, March 1994, 2 08 066953 2
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... Louis XV becomes the Place de la Révolution only to become the Place de la Concorde under Louis-Philippe; Napoleon III makes up for Waterloo in the Crimea and at Solferino; the Third Republic undoes the shame of the defeat at Sedan; de Gaulle erases the humiliation of 1940; and so on. All of Paris is hallowed ground, a lieu de mémoire whose coding is ...

Rites of Passage

Anthony Quinn, 27 June 1991

The Elephant 
by Richard Rayner.
Cape, 276 pp., £13.99, May 1991, 0 224 03005 1
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The Misfortunes of Nigel 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Peter Owen, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0830 9
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Famous for the creatures 
by Andrew Motion.
Viking, 248 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 0 670 82286 8
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Double Lives 
by Stephen Wall.
Bloomsbury, 154 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 7475 0910 7
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... than the headlines, and shuffles some new characters into the pack. Significant among them is Walter, a faded artist who has leased part of his land for the students’ production. An army companion of his father during the war, Walter has insinuated to Francis that the brigadier might not be quite what he appears. This ...

Nation of Mutes

Tony Wood: Marquis de Custine, 24 August 2000

A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine 
by Anka Muhlstein, translated by Teresa Waugh.
Helen Marx, 393 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 1 885983 41 7
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... although both had been sympathetic to the Revolution. Indeed, his grandfather, General Adam-Philippe de Custine, had been a supporter of the American War of Independence and in 1793, as one of the few French aristocrats in favour of revolution, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Army of the North. He was tried for failing to prevent the surrender ...

Hitler at Heathrow

E.S. Shaffer, 7 August 1980

The Memoirs of Bridget Hitler 
edited by Michael Unger.
Duckworth, 192 pp., £4.95, March 1979, 0 7156 1356 1
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The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. 
by George Steiner.
Granta, 66 pp., £1.50
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Young Adolf 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 174 pp., £6.95, November 1978, 0 7156 1323 5
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... fields. Approaching them at random but with a certain circumspection, he finds, for example, Philippe van Rindt’s The Trial of Adolf Hitler, in which it is revealed that Hitler survived his attempts at suicide in the bunker; The Murder of Rudolf Hess, by Hess’s Spandau doctor, demonstrating that the prisoner who the other day celebrated his 85th ...

The Rack, the Rapier, the Ruff and the Fainting Nun

Nicholas Penny: Manet/Velázquez, 10 July 2003

Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting 
by Gary Tinterow and Geneviève Lacambre et al.
Yale, 592 pp., £50, March 2003, 0 300 09880 4
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... is the description of the ancient Scottish seat of the Roman Catholic earls of Glenallan in Walter Scott’s The Antiquary. The late Countess, ‘partly from a haughty contempt of the times in which she lived, partly from her sense of family pride’, had not permitted the interiors to be modernised. The ‘valuable collection of pictures’, which hung ...

Faces of the People

Richard Altick, 19 August 1982

Physiognomy in the European Novel: Faces and Fortunes 
by Graeme Tytler.
Princeton, 436 pp., £19.10, March 1982, 0 691 06491 1
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A Human Comedy: Physiognomy and Caricature in 19th-century Paris 
by Judith Wechsler.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £18.50, June 1982, 0 500 01268 7
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... and applied it in his fictional character descriptions. Sterne, on the other hand, arranged that Walter Shandy’s forthright declaration that ‘there are a thousand unnoticed openings ... which let a penetrating eye at once into a man’s soul’ should degenerate into nonsense, and Fielding differentiated his honest characters, the naive and the ...

Falling for Desmoulins

P.N. Furbank, 20 August 1992

A Place of Greater Safety 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 896 pp., £15.99, September 1992, 0 670 84545 0
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... Now, of course, there is no intrinsic incompatibility between novel-writing and history-writing. Walter Scott was an admirable historian – here indeed lay most of his strength. A case can be made, too, for saying that Flaubert, in L’Education sentimentale, was a better historical thinker – showed a more advanced grasp of historical causation – than ...


Hal Foster: Curation, 4 June 2015

Ways of Curating 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Penguin, 192 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 241 95096 8
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Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World – And Everything Else 
by David Balzer.
Pluto, 140 pp., £8.99, April 2015, 978 0 7453 3597 1
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... experimental artists as they groped for a way forward after the Second World War; and the American Walter Hopps, who, with his staging of a landmark Duchamp retrospective in Pasadena in 1963, sparked a rethinking of Dada for an entire generation of Pop, Minimalist and conceptual artists in the United States. Obrist reserves his highest praise, though, for his ...

When in Bed

David Blackbourn, 19 October 1995

Reflections on a Life 
by Norbert Elias.
Polity, 166 pp., £35, October 1994, 0 7456 1383 7
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The Civilising Process 
by Norbert Elias.
Blackwell, 558 pp., £50, March 1994, 0 631 19222 0
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... family and reassuring world of cook, nanny and governess that Elias describes remind one of Walter Benjamin’s near-contemporary ‘Berlin Childhood’, except that where Benjamin provides a rich description of bourgeois consumption in the Belle Epoque, Elias offers surprisingly little material detail, given the central role that manners and habitus ...

By the Width of a Street

Christopher Prendergast: Literary geography, 29 October 1998

An Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 
by Franco Moretti.
Verso, 206 pp., £16, August 1998, 1 85984 883 4
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... question, doubtless linked to the emergence of a culture of display and exhibition, or to what Philippe Hamon, in his remarkable study of 19th-century French literature (also absent from Moretti’s bibliography), has called ‘exposition’. ‘Exposition’ here refers to a physical and social world: the new urban landscape of grands boulevards, great ...

Braudel’s Long Term

Peter Burke, 10 January 1983

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: Vol. I. The Structures of Everyday Life 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Collins, 623 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 00 216303 9
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Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: Vol. II. The Wheels of Commerce 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Collins, 670 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 9780002161329
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Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècle: Vol. III. Le temps du monde 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 607 pp., frs 250, May 1979, 2 253 06457 2
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... the organisation of Febvre’s own doctoral thesis, which had also been concerned with Philip II: Philippe II et la Franche-Comté (1912). However, the Mediterranean was a considerably more ambitious work, a case-study designed to make general statements about the nature of space and time. Braudel emphasised the need to see the Mediterranean world as a whole ...

How stupid people are

John Sturrock: Flaubert, 7 September 2006

Bouvard and Pecuchet 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey Archive, 328 pp., £8.99, January 2006, 1 56478 393 6
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Flaubert: A Life 
by Frederick Brown.
Heinemann, 629 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 434 00769 2
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... after witnessing the excitement with which the citizens of Rouen came out to welcome King Louis-Philippe. And then, as time went by, stupidity went from being merely laughable to being intolerable. By the time he wrote Bouvard et Pécuchet, his intolerance had reached the point where he described it as verging on ‘dementia’, and he meant this to be the ...

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