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Derridiarry

Richard Stern, 15 August 1991

... At five o’clock on Friday, 19 April, anniversary of the shot heard round the world, Jacques Derrida gave the first of the four annual Frederick Ives Carpenter Lectures at the University of Chicago.1 Tom Mitchell, chairman of the English Department and editor of Critical Inquiry, the English-language journal in which Derrida most often publishes, introduced him to a crowd that filled not only the seats and aisles of the Max Palevsky Auditorium, but the lobby, where there was a PA system, and the street, where there wasn’t ...

Fiction and the Poverty of Theory

John Sutherland, 20 November 1986

News from Nowhere 
by David Caute.
Hamish Hamilton, 403 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 241 11920 0
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O-Zone 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 469 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 241 11948 0
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Ticket to Ride 
by Dennis Potter.
Faber, 202 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780571145232
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... between old (sentimental) socialism and the new (hard) left. The hero of News from Nowhere, Richard Stern, updates Caute’s earlier hero, middle-aged, middle-of-the-ideological-road Steven Bright, the fortyish academic trapped between two eras whose crack-up was portrayed in The Demonstration (1970) and The Occupation (1971). The formal advantage ...

Poets and Pretenders

John Sutherland, 2 April 1987

The Great Pretender 
by James Atlas.
Viking, 239 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 9780670814619
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The Position of the Body 
by Richard Stern.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $21.95, November 1986, 0 8101 0730 9
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The Setting Sun and the Rolling World 
by Charles Mungoshi.
Heinemann, 202 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 434 48166 1
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Conversations with Lord Byron on Perversion, 162 Years after his Lordship’s Death 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 9780224024235
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... elegantly demonstrates how ‘the idea of the poet’ framed literary lives from Keats onwards. Richard Helgerson’s Self-Crowned Laureates (1983) does the same for the English Renaissance. The title of The Great Pretender is triple-loaded: the hero Ben Janis is a claimant for poetic fame, a laureate hoping to crown himself. His claims, he suspects ...

Humiliations

Michael Irwin, 4 December 1980

Collected Short Stories 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 303 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 143430 0
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World’s End 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 241 10447 5
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Packages 
by Richard Stern.
Sidgwick, 151 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 283 98689 1
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Oxbridge Blues 
by Frederic Raphael.
Cape, 213 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 9780224018715
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The Fat Man in History 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 186 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 571 11619 1
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... of glibness. His characters can be miniaturised by the economy with which he defines them. Some of Richard Stern’s stories are likewise impaired by fastidiousness. Trimmed, sandpapered, polished, they communicate first and foremost, paradoxically, the unobtrusiveness of the author’s skill. But there is an agreeable magnanimity and humour here. ...

Magic Thrift

J.P. Stern, 16 September 1982

Thomas Mann: The Making of an Artist 1875-1911 
by Richard Winston.
Constable, 325 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 09 460060 0
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... Richard and Clare Winston are well-known as the authors of elegant and accurate translations of some of Thomas Mann’s essays and correspondence, including The Letters of Thomas Mann, 1889-1955. While annotating that selection, Richard Winston began assembling material for what he intended to be an extensive biography of the writer ...

Lectures about Heaven

Thomas Laqueur: Forgiving Germany, 7 June 2007

Five Germanys I Have Known 
by Fritz Stern.
Farrar, Straus, 560 pp., £11.25, July 2007, 978 0 374 53086 0
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... 180-metre long, obstacle and horror-filled space makes clear the tragedy of their error. Fritz Stern also begins with a room. In 1979, he returned to his hometown, Breslau, now Polish Wroclaw, for the first time since 1938. He wrote about this ‘homecoming’ for his children not long afterwards, and now uses that private account as a public introduction ...

Bitter as never before

David Blackbourn: Einstein, 3 February 2000

Einstein's German World 
by Fritz Stern.
Princeton, 335 pp., £15.95, October 1999, 9780691059396
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... Street Crash helped to make National Socialism a mass movement, and it introduces some of Fritz Stern’s central themes. They include the impact of the First World War, which we can now see as the foundational event in the history of the short 20th century, the nature of scientific achievement in an age when science lost its innocence (but not its ...

Like a Carp on a Lawn

Graham Robb: Marie D’Agoult, 7 June 2001

The Life of Marie d'Agoult, Alias Daniel Stern 
by Phyllis Stock-Morton.
Johns Hopkins, 291 pp., £33, July 2000, 0 8018 6313 9
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Marie d’Agoult: The Rebel Countess 
by Richard Bolster.
Yale, 288 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 0 300 08246 0
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... permanent muse of a great composer’ (Wagner). Marie d’Agoult is also known as ‘Daniel Stern’, the name under which she published a vivid and well-documented Histoire de la Révolution de 1848 (1850-53). Until the fall of the Second Empire, it was one of the very few books published in France to present a balanced and therefore critical view of ...

Germans and the German Past

J.P. Stern, 21 December 1989

The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust and German National Identity 
by Charles Maier.
Harvard, 227 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 674 92975 6
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Historikerstreit 
Piper, 397 pp., DM 17.80, July 1987, 3 492 10816 4Show More
In Hitler’s Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past 
by Richard Evans.
Tauris, 196 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 1 85043 146 9
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Why did the heavens not darken? 
by Arno Mayer.
Verso, 510 pp., £19.95, October 1989, 0 86091 267 1
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A German Identity, 1770-1990 
by Harold James.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £16.95, March 1989, 9780297795049
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Die Republikaner: Phantombild der neuen Rechten 
by Claus Leggewie.
Rotbuch, 155 pp., May 1989, 3 88022 011 5
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Ich war dabei 
by Franz Schönhuber.
Langen Müller, 356 pp., April 1989, 3 7844 2249 7
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... on the Austrian resistance; but he has done little else. Another account of the controversy – Richard Evans’s In Hitler’s Shadow – is better informed, and more perceptive. Professor Evans shows in abundantly documented detail how the arguments the embattled historians are advancing ‘are derived, consciously or unconsciously, from the ...

Impatience

J.P. Stern, 30 August 1990

Unmodern Observations 
by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Herbert Golder, Gary Brown and William Arrowsmith.
Yale, 402 pp., £30, February 1990, 0 300 04311 2
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The Importance of Nietzsche 
by Erich Heller.
Chicago, 200 pp., £23.95, February 1989, 0 226 32637 3
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... portrait composed of largely asserted values illuminating and convincing: disappointingly, in Richard Schacht’s introduction such an enquiry, which would indeed be timely, is not attempted. The last essay, ‘Wagner in Bayreuth’, is designed as an apotheosis of the Master on the occasion of the first Bayreuth Festival of July 1876. ‘In ...

Concierge

John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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Auden 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... 1971 lecture on ‘Phantasy and Reality in Poetry’); some wonderful letters to his friend James Stern, together with a biographical essay about Stern by Nicholas Jenkins; a memoir by Stella Musulin, a friend of Auden’s during his years at Kirchstetten in Austria; Edward Mendelson’s bibliography of published ...

All about Freud

J.P. Stern, 4 August 1988

Freud: A Life for Our Time: A Life in Our Time 
by Peter Gay.
Dent, 810 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 460 04761 2
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... books. Among these embattled mega-opuses, with their Faustian intellectual imperialism, are Richard Weininger’s Sex and Character (1903, briefly mentioned by Gay), Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s Foundations of the 19th Century (1906), Spengler’s Decline of the west(1918and 1922), Ludwig Klages’s Spirit as Adversary of the Soul (1929-1933) and ...

Prophet of the Rocks

Richard Fortey: William Smith, 9 August 2001

The Map that Changed the World: The Tale of William Smith and the Birth of a Science 
by Simon Winchester.
Viking, 338 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 88407 3
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... aesthetic merges with the scientific. A few yards away is a portrait of Smith himself: balding, stern, with a determined set of the lips, he might be a Nonconformist preacher. On the way to the map a visitor passes the Royal Charter of the Geological Society, with its injunction to investigate ‘the mineral structure of the Earth’, an investigation which ...

Tankishness

Peter Wollen: Tank by Patrick Wright, 16 November 2000

Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine 
by Patrick Wright.
Faber, 499 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 571 19259 9
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... Committee was to be chaired by Tennyson d’Eyncourt, a submarine expert. Its secretary was Albert Stern, a banker in civilian life. By the end of summer there was general agreement that without caterpillar tracks there would be no tank. The Holt proved unsuitable, but – by a great stroke of good luck – Commander Briggs, a Navy man, happened to go into ...

The Political Economy of Carbon Trading

Donald MacKenzie: A Ratchet, 5 April 2007

... one, we could buy or sell allowances in Los Angeles or San Francisco. If the blueprint in the Stern Review, commissioned by the Treasury, is followed globally – a big if – we will before long be able to trade carbon anywhere in the world. As John Lanchester noted in the last issue of the LRB, the science of global warming is not straightforward. The ...

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