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So far, so-so

Peter Clarke, 6 June 1996

One Hundred Years of Socialism 
by Donald Sassoon.
Tauris, 965 pp., £35, April 1996, 9781850438793
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... the price of survival. The mythology of the red flag has been replaced by the iconography of the rose in both France and Britain, while the Italian socialists settled on the carnation as the symbol of their reincarnation. A common interpretation of what has happened is shared by the Old Left and the New Right. The ...

Protests with Parasols

Michael Wood: Proust, Dreyfus, Israel, 20 December 2012

Proust among the Nations: From Dreyfus to the Middle East 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Chicago, 239 pp., £22.50, February 2012, 978 0 226 72578 9
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... the narrator really know of Albertine if for him depth is just a name for mystery?Jacqueline’s Rose’s novel Albertine (2001) doesn’t answer this question but it does answer the previous one, and it takes the sentence about Albertine and her non-understanding of the narrator’s pages as one of its epigraphs. It shows us Albertine’s depths, or rather ...

‘J’accuse’: Dreyfus in Our Times

Jacqueline Rose: A Lecture, 10 June 2010

... intelligence, the bordereau revealed that classified military information was being passed from France to Germany. Wrongly – wilfully, as it turned out – it had been attributed to the young Jewish artillery captain, the rising star at the headquarters of the General Staff of the French army, Alfred Dreyfus. To put it simply, Dreyfus had been framed. In ...
Science, Vine and Wine in Modern France 
by Harry Paul.
Cambridge, 355 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 49745 0
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... by steamship from its native America to Europe on infected vine cuttings, was first discovered in France by the Vaucluse Agricultural Society on a scientific field trip to the Rhône Valley in 1868. Félix Sahut, Gaston Bazille and Jules-Emile planchon were looking for the cause of the mysterious disease which had begun to kill vines in the south of ...


Eugen Weber, 10 March 1994

Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanisation 
by Richard Kuisel.
California, 309 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 520 07962 0
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... they die, but good Americans have always been few in number, so for a long time their impact on France was slight even when they were dead. ‘Who reads an American book, or goes to an American play, or looks at an American picture ...?’ asked Baudelaire, perhaps echoing Tocqueville, with his premonition that the wonders and vulgarities of democracy in ...


Stephen Wall, 27 June 1991

by Pat Barker.
Viking, 252 pp., £13.99, May 1991, 0 670 82876 9
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Rose Reason 
by Mary Flanagan.
Bloomsbury, 388 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 7475 0888 7
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by Rose Boyt.
Chatto, 182 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 7011 3728 2
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... when vocal again, partly because of class resentments. When eventually found unfit to return to France because of the asthma Rivers has insisted on reporting, Prior is ashamed of being let off, despite his new union with a munitions factory girl to whom he’d like to tell the truth about the trenches but can’t. Rivers also acts beyond the call of duty in ...

Really fantastic

A.D. Nuttall, 18 November 1982

A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in Narrative and Structure, especially of the Fantastic 
by Christine Brooke-Rose.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £25, October 1981, 0 521 22561 2
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... If Christine Brooke-Rose had stayed in Oxford, instead of migrating to France, she might have been rather like Helen Gardner. Her new book is written with a crispness and a briskness which at once evokes a certain atmosphere: a highly intelligent unresponsiveness to theory, a fear of subjectivity (she even recalls, with obvious relish, her Oxford tutor’s phrase for mere criticism, ‘personal effusions ...

Short Cuts

Jacqueline Rose: My Evening with Farage, 24 October 2013

... origins of his name, at which point he bursts into life: ‘We were persecuted Protestants from France who fled in fear of our lives and were welcomed in by England.’ As with Nicolas Sarkozy, who never lets his part-Jewish ancestry or Carla Bruni’s status as an Italian immigrant stand in the way of his anti-immigration policies, Farage doesn’t ...

Dead Man’s Coat

Peter Pomerantsev: Teffi, 2 February 2017

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 169 7
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Rasputin and Other Ironies 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Rose France and Anne Marie Jackson.
Pushkin, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 217 5
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Subtly Worded 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson, Natalia Wase, Clare Kitson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 304 pp., £12, June 2014, 978 1 78227 037 9
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... How​ does a comic writer describe a world that has stopped being funny? What to say when the system you satirise is swept away, when parts of the population are killed, when the survivors become refugees, drifting away en masse but it’s unclear where to? Teffi was faced with these questions as she tried to make sense of revolution in St Petersburg, as she fled through the Civil War, as she crossed the Black Sea along with other refugees to start a new life in a place which would in turn be engulfed by fascism and war ...

Ten Billion Letters

David Coward: Artilleur Pireaud writes home, 21 June 2007

Your Death Would Be Mine: Paul and Marie Pireaud in the Great War 
by Martha Hanna.
Harvard, 341 pp., £17.95, November 2006, 0 674 02318 8
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... In August 1914, France mobilised jubilantly. ‘La Patrie’ was in danger and men and women of all classes and stations rallied to its defence. Florid voices on the clerical, aristocratic, conservative right defined patriotism grandly, as a mystical religion rooted in the land. Others, more worldly but no less exalted, were clear that patriotism was a hard-won secular tradition under constant threat from socialism, collectivism, anarchism, internationalism, individualism and now, most urgently, from the latest migration of Teutonic barbarism ...

Flinch Wince Jerk Shirk

Frank Kermode: Christine Brooke-Rose, 6 April 2006

Life, End of 
by Christine Brooke-Rose.
Carcanet, 119 pp., £12.95, February 2006, 1 85754 846 9
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... Christine Brooke-Rose, being in her eighties and suffering many intractable illnesses and disabilities, recognises that her life must be near its end. Since her retirement from the University of Paris (Vincennes) she has lived alone in a village near Avignon. Being well acquainted with illness, she has offered as her main reason for choosing to spend her old age in France the conviction that the French health services are far superior to the British, an opinion she has not had occasion to revise ...

Heil Putain!

Lorna Scott Fox: Lydie Salvayre, 26 January 2006

The Company of Ghosts 
by Lydie Salvayre, translated by Christopher Woodall.
Dalkey Archive, 184 pp., £7.99, January 2006, 1 56478 350 2
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... from the camp of the so-called Anglo-Saxon model is that people have too easy a time over there in France. Social safety nets, protection of small businesses, quality food, pampered workers, productive yet lovely countryside, cheap dentists: you name it, it’s got to stop. But those to whom these errors look rather attractive will be confused by Lydie ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... an arm around his neck, but More told his son-in-law: ‘If my head would win him a castle in France … it would not fail to go.’ Charles Brandon fought in showy campaigns to recover those bits of France Henry thought he owned, so he must have felt the truth of More’s words in every shuddering vertebra. He was one ...


Maurice Keen: The diabolical Sir John Hawkwood, 5 May 2005

Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Faber, 366 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 9780571219087
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... social problems of the period. The confused fighting in the Hundred Years War between England and France offered adventurers eager for gain a fine apprenticeship in fighting and plundering, and spread freebooter companies across much of the French kingdom, reducing rich provinces to economic ruin in the course of the 1340s, 1350s and 1360s. Italy offered even ...
... won them to confidence, excitement and triumph. By the end of the day-long showing, the audience rose in a comparable mood of exaltation as the screen opened out onto an immense triple montage of red, white and blue, with a long last image of exploding galaxies. This is Napoleon before he had his hair cut à la Titus, before he returned to Paris after ...

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