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Why should you be the only ones that sin?

Colm Tóibín, 5 September 1996

Thomas MannEros and Literature 
by Anthony Heilbut.
Macmillan, 636 pp., £20, June 1996, 9780394556338
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Thomas MannA Biography 
by Ronald Hayman.
Bloomsbury, 672 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 7475 2531 5
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Thomas MannA Life 
by Donald Prater.
Oxford, 554 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 19 815861 0
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... Adrian Leverkuhn, Felix Krull – are shaped by their uneasy and ambiguous homosexuality. For Mann being German came first, and he learned, as Anthony Heilbut rather quaintly puts it, to read German history as one long queer epic – he alluded to Frederick the Great’s homosexuality and depicted Bismarck as ‘hysterical and high-pitched’. When ...

Impossible Wishes

Michael Wood: Thomas Mann, 6 February 2003

The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann 
edited by Ritchie Robertson.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £45.50, November 2001, 9780521653107
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Thomas MannA Biography 
by Hermann Kurzke, translated by Leslie Willson.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 7139 9500 9
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... only a writer of very High Modernist tendencies would take this remark as a compliment, but Thomas Mann certainly did, and it wasn’t even addressed to him. He found it in Harry Levin’s little book on Joyce, which he read in 1944. He was also much drawn to another sentence in the same work: ‘The best writing of our contemporaries is not an act of ...

Zero Grazing

John Ryle, 5 November 1992

To Blight with Plague: Studies in a Literary Theme 
by Barbara Fass Leavy.
New York, 237 pp., £27.95, August 1992, 0 8147 5059 1
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Epidemics and Ideas: Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence 
edited by Terence Ranger and Paul Slack.
Cambridge, 346 pp., £35, April 1992, 9780521402767
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The Fourth Horseman: A Short History of Epidemics, Plagues and Other Scourges 
by Andrew Nikiforuk.
Fourth Estate, 200 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 1 85702 051 0
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In Time of Plague: The History and Social Consequences of Lethal Epidemic Disease 
edited by Arien Mack.
New York, 272 pp., $35, November 1991, 0 8147 5467 8
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Miasmas and Disease: Public Health and the Environment in the Pre-Industrial Age 
by Carlo Cipolla, translated by Elizabeth Potter.
Yale, 101 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 300 04806 8
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International Journal of STD and Aids. Vol. II, Supplement I: Aids and the Epidemics of History 
edited by Harry Rolin, Richard Creese and Ronald Mann.
Royal Society of Medicine, January 2000, 0 00 956462 4
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Monopolies of Loss 
by Adam Mars-Jones.
Faber, 250 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 571 16691 1
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Aids in Africa: Its Present and Future Impact 
edited by Tony Barrett and Piers Blaikie.
Belhaven, 193 pp., £35, January 1992, 1 85293 115 9
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... Seventy-four years ago a viral pandemic began in America, most likely on a pig farm in Iowa. Fifteen months later it had killed over eighteen million people, 1 per cent of the world’s population, as many as died in two world wars, almost ten times as many as have died in a decade of Aids. The virus, transmitted by airborne mucus and saliva, spread via coughs and sneezes ...

Foxy-Faced

John Bayley, 29 September 1988

Something to hold onto: Autobiographical Sketches 
by Richard Cobb.
Murray, 168 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4587 0
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... The Archers. The self-awareness of the novel in regard to its public is curiously subtle. Thomas Mann and Arnold Bennett would have taken it for granted, like Scott, that though their reconstructions might not appeal to everyone, they would be read by a complete cross-section of the reading public, from the discerning connoisseur to those who were getting ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: ‘Hollywood Costume’, 20 December 2012

... as Andy Warhol called his famous persona, are mingling, too, with many who are long dead. Ronald Reagan and Meryl Streep, Bette Davis and Robert De Niro jostle closely together in several large spaces, chambers for different sins in the afterlife – for vamping, sharp-shooting, taxi-driving – while a flickering crowd comes and goes in an endless ...

It wasn’t him, it was her

Jenny Diski: Nietzsche’s Bad Sister, 25 September 2003

Nietzsche’s Sister and the Will to Power: A Biography of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche 
by Carol Diethe.
Illinois, 214 pp., £26, July 2003, 0 252 02826 0
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... lives. To fill out her omissions and even to make sense of the overall narrative I read Ronald Hayman, J.P. Stern, Michael Tanner, Rüdiger Bittner, Walter Kaufmann, Leslie Chamberlain and, yes, even Nietzsche on Nietzsche, Ben MacIntyre on Elisabeth’s Paraguayan adventure, and H.F. Peters on Lou Andreas-Salomé (some of the detail below is from ...

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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... Piranesi she discusses Cavafy, whose Greek poems she has translated into French, and Thomas Mann, whose manner of dealing with antiquity (as in Joseph and his Brethren) she perhaps assimilates to her own way of dealing with Hadrian’s world. Galey suggests as much. ‘Are you sure that there’s no “autosuggestion” in your conception?’ he ...

Cheering us up

Ian Jack, 15 September 1988

In for a Penny: The Unauthorised Biography of Jeffrey Archer 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 241 12478 6
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... In the opening pages of Thomas Mann’s novel, Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man, the hero debates a question which has always worried him: which is better for the careerist, to see the world small or to see it big? The small view has its attractions. Great statesmen and empire-builders must see the world this way, Krull thinks: like a chessboard, with human pieces that can be manoeuvred coldly and boldly as the player rises above the mass of mankind ...

Between the Raindrops

David Bromwich: The Subtlety of James Stewart, 12 December 2002

James Stewart at the NFT 
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... star in films by Lubitsch and Cukor to the troubling singularity of the violent heroes of Anthony Mann’s Westerns and Hitchcock’s thrillers – an impressive plurality of the films of the 1950s that have lasted because they have psychological depth. Two other front-rank directors who favoured him were Frank Capra and John Ford: Capra served Stewart ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... Wanger, Keenan Wynn, William Wyler, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Jerry Wald and Robert Young. Ronald Reagan, a New Deal Democrat at the time (and an FBI informant since 1941), decided after considerable brooding not to join the First Amendment protest. He spoke out anyway in roughly the same cause, from his new position as president of the Screen Actors ...
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... fondle, then. But, with all this fondling, how much feeling? Critics have always had their doubts. Ronald Hingley maintained that Nabokov’s work in general ‘secretes about as much milk of human kindness a cornered black mamba’. Nabokov responded by putting Hingley into the translation (heavily revised) of King, Queen, Knave as a department store ...

Here was a plague

Tom Crewe, 27 September 2018

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... entirely their fault, their responsibility and we shouldn’t spend a lot of time on it’. When Ronald Reagan broke a seven-year silence and spoke publicly about Aids for the first time in 1987, he asked: ‘After all, when it comes to preventing Aids, don’t medicine and morality teach the same lessons?’ In truth, the tension between the fear that ...

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