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Gide’s Cuttlefish

John Bayley, 17 February 2000

The Charterhouse of Parma 
by Henri B. Stendhal, translated by Richard Howard.
Modern Library, 688 pp., £20.95, January 1999, 0 679 60245 3
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... on Europe and on society. Any orthodox novel reader, picking up this excellent new translation by Richard Howard, would be stimulated into a desire to read further: On May 15, 1796, General Bonaparte entered Milan at the head of that young army which had lately crossed the Lodi bridge and taught the world that after so many centuries Caesar and ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... never have been published at all had it not been for the intercession of the poet and translator Richard Howard, who was introduced to White by a friend who had met Howard at a West Village pick-up bar. Howard liked White’s manuscript, suggested revisions and eventually persuaded ...
Selected Poems 
by James Merrill.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £9.95, April 1996, 1 85754 228 2
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... what a cuff!’ one is tempted to add, all stiff with brocade. Early on, the poet and critic Richard Howard stigmatised him as a bejewelled poet, and that characterisation stuck, though it suited only his earliest work. In that way, as in so many others, Merrill was like Proust. Just as no one, after reading Les Plaisirs et les jours or Proust’s ...

English Proust

Christopher Prendergast, 8 July 1993

In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, £15, November 1992, 0 7011 3992 7
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... Swann’s Way offers the refreshingly simple ‘Time was when I always went to bed early’, while Richard Howard proposes going into print with ‘Time and again, I have gone to bed early.’ One can argue the toss indefinitely over the respective strengths of these different renderings. Grieve’s ‘Time was’ and ...

The Meaninglessness of Meaning

Michael Wood, 9 October 1986

The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962-1980 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Cape, 368 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 224 02302 0
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Writing Degree Zero and Elements of Semiology 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith.
Cape, 172 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 224 02267 9
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The Fashion System 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard.
Cape, 303 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 224 02984 3
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The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art and Representation 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 312 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 0 631 14746 2
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The Rustle of Language 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 373 pp., £27.50, May 1986, 0 631 14864 7
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A Barthes Reader 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Cape, 495 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 224 02946 0
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Barthes: Selected Writings 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Fontana, 495 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 00 636645 7
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Roland Barthes: A Conservative Estimate 
by Philip Thody.
University of Chicago Press, 203 pp., £6.75, February 1984, 0 226 79513 6
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Roland Barthes: Structuralism and After 
by Annette Lavers.
Methuen, 300 pp., £16.95, September 1982, 0 416 72380 2
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Barthes 
by Jonathan Culler.
Fontana, 128 pp., £1.95, February 1983, 0 00 635974 4
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... A diary, Roland Barthes suggested, provokes in its writer not the tragic question, ‘Who am I?’ but the comic question: ‘Am I?’ This elegant and amused remark goes some way towards explaining why Barthes, who reflected much on his life and published a book called Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes, should not have kept a diary. The comic question can’t be confronted, it can only be circumvented, played with, smiled at ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... The most interesting book of first poems in many years’, Richard Howard proclaimed in 1981. James Merrill, John Hollander and John Ashbery spoke in similarly emphatic terms, while Anthony Hecht saluted an ‘extraordinarily fine’ debut and Harold Bloom hailed the arrival of a great original. ‘I think I speak for many,’ David Kalstone wrote, ‘in saying it appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South ...

Out of Babel

Michael Hofmann: Thomas Bernhard Traduced, 14 December 2017

Collected Poems 
by Thomas Bernhard, translated by James Reidel.
Chicago, 459 pp., £25, June 2017, 978 0 85742 426 6
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... paper, typeface devised God knows when by fuck knows who, blurbs by the well-respected likes of Richard Howard, Carolyn Forché and Franz Wright – is enough to cure one of the idiocy of reading poetry in translation. Because: why shouldn’t they all be like that? It seems harder to gain admission to a children’s playground than to publish a book ...

Soldier, Saint

Stuart Airlie, 19 February 1987

William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry 
by Georges Duby, translated by Richard Howard.
Faber, 156 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13745 8
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Thomas Becket 
by Frank Barlow.
Weidenfeld, 334 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 297 78908 2
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... Most of us are familiar with Jacob Burckhardt’s thesis that the Italian Renaissance witnessed the ‘discovery of the individual’ while Medieval man’s self-consciousness simply took corporate form: ‘Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, a people, a party, a corporation, a family.’ This view is no longer held in its crude state, and sophisticated work by Colin Morris and other Medievalists has made a strong case for the 12th century, with its ‘Renaissance’, as the era of the discovery of individual self-consciousness ...

The Horror of Money

Michael Wood, 8 December 1988

The Pink and the Green 
by Stendhal, translated by Richard Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 148 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 241 12289 9
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Stendhal’s Violin: A Novelist and his Reader 
by Roger Pearson.
Oxford, 294 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 19 815851 3
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... in The Pink and the Green that it begins to seem its unfocused, perhaps undiscovered subject. Richard Howard’s version is fluent and graceful, catching as few translations do the bounce and abruptness of Stendhal’s voice, and has only a handful of small errors. Howard renders esprit variously as ...

Save us from saviours

Thomas Pavel: E.M. Cioran, 27 May 2010

Searching for Cioran 
by Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston.
Indiana, 284 pp., £18.99, March 2009, 978 0 253 35267 5
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A Short History of Decay 
by E.M. Cioran, translated by Richard Howard.
Penguin, 186 pp., £9.99, May 2010, 978 0 14 119272 7
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... What rules the behaviour of human beings? Our needs, as materialist and utilitarian thinkers believe? Our intellect and the dictates of reason, as Platonists and Hegelians hope? Or do we obey our proud, irritable vital spirit, sometimes generous but quite often vicious? Few people nowadays would give the third answer, but a century ago, the disciples of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche defended it in an appropriately proud and ferocious tone of voice ...

Drowned in Eau de Vie

Modris Eksteins: New, Fast and Modern, 21 February 2008

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond 
by Peter Gay.
Heinemann, 610 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 434 01044 8
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... him in Berlin and admitted that he was very much a product of that culture. He cited lyrics from a Richard Tauber song from Lehár’s Land of Smiles that had remained with him all these years – ‘Always smiling and always cheerful’ – and implied that this was part of his own persona too. His new book is much like that. The darker side of Modernism is ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris, 2 August 2012

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... in Paris. She would borrow Resnais’s apartment, investigate Blanchot for her translator friend Richard Howard, go to see the latest Godard film or visit the catacombs with her son. In the late 1960s, she fell in love with Nicole Stéphane, who had acted in Jean-Pierre Melville’s films but now produced her own. Stéphane, who was descended from the ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... On 22 February 1965, the fifth month of Harold Wilson’s first ministry, Richard Crossman recorded the following in his Diaries of a Cabinet Minister: Then Harold Wilson raised the issue of Anthony Howard. He has just been appointed by the Sunday Times to be the first Whitehall correspondent in history, looking into the secrets of the Civil Service rather than leaking the secrets of the politicians ...

Grande Dame

D.A.N. Jones, 18 July 1985

With Open Eyes: Conversations with Matthieu Galey 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Beacon, 271 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 8070 6354 1
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The Dark Brain of Piranesi, and Other Essays 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Richard Howard.
Aidan Ellis, 232 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 85628 140 9
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Alexis 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 105 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 85628 138 7
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Coup de Grâce 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated with the author Grace Frick .
Black Swan, 112 pp., £2.50, October 1984, 9780552991216
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... Marguerite Yourcenar was born in Brussels in 1903. She became a US citizen in 1947 and has lived for more than thirty years on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. Thus when she was proposed for membership of the French Academy, it was natural that some Frenchmen would make an issue of her nationality, in order to prevent a woman joining their club ...

Gravity’s Smoothest Dream

Matthew Bevis: A.R. Ammons, 7 March 2019

The Complete Poems 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, two vols, 2133 pp., £74, December 2017, 978 0 393 25489 1
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... suddenly, six volumes followed in quick succession, including a Selected Poems in 1968, which Richard Howard proclaimed ‘a masterpiece of our period’. Collected Poems appeared in 1972, and Harold Bloom called it the most distinguished book of American poetry since Wallace Stevens’s Collected Poems came out in the mid-1950s. It was ‘a major ...

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