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Who mended Pierre’s leg?

David A. Bell: Lourdes, 11 November 1999

Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age 
by Ruth Harris.
Allen Lane, 473 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7139 9186 0
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... the sort of scorn and vitriol that French freethinkers once directed at the Roman Catholic Church. Ruth Harris’s book exemplifies the promise of this approach rather than its excesses. Pasteur appears only incidentally in its pages, yet he lurks behind them, for the book’s great theme is precisely the confrontation between modern, scientific, secular ...

The French are not men

Michael Wood: L’affaire Dreyfus, 7 September 2017

Lettres à la marquise: correspondance inédite avec Marie Arconati Visconti 
by Alfred Dreyfus, edited by Philippe Oriol.
Grasset, 592 pp., £19, March 2017, 978 2 246 85965 9
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... for ‘Dreyfusism and its work’. This could mean many things but at its broadest it meant, as Ruth Harris says in The Man on Devil’s Island (2010), a devotion to truth and justice as distinct from tradition and honour. After what Oriol describes as a ‘relatively moderate’ plea by the prosecution, and an attempt by the defence to get back to 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 mobility of our souls.In her book on the Dreyfus Affair, The Man on Devil’s Island (2010), Ruth Harris insists that no ‘dark teleology’ links the 1890s in France with the years between the two world wars. ‘There is no straight line that can be drawn from the conflicts of the Fin de Siècle to the emergence of fascism in the 1930s,’ she ...

Warthog Dynamism

David Bromwich, 19 November 2020

... in the insomniac hours, the former vice president had a convalescent look.What possessed the Biden-Harris campaign to approach their victory as a foregone conclusion may never be known: it seems, at any rate, to have been a tight operation, unlikely to extrude the usual mass of memoirs. Kamala Harris might have been supposed ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities, 15 November 2007

The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... Robert Harris’s first novel, Fatherland (1992), was a counterfactual historical thriller set in Nazi Germany in 1964. In the alternative reality of the book, Germany defeated the Soviet Union in the Caucasus in 1943, lured the Royal Navy to its destruction after learning that the British had cracked the Enigma code, and intimidated the United States into signing a peace treaty by successfully testing an atom bomb and launching an intercontinental V3 rocket across the Atlantic ...

Our Lady of the Counterculture

Marina Warner: The Virgin Mary, 8 November 2012

... holy in her honour: labouring children were invoking a union rep on high to get them a day off. As Ruth Harris illuminated in her book about Lourdes, a coalition of women – from a pauper like the visionary herself, Bernadette Soubirous, to the philanthropic grandes dames who championed her truthfulness – formed to articulate a policy for the Church ...

True Grit

David Craig, 8 February 1996

Wainwright: The Biography 
by Hunter Davies.
Joseph, 356 pp., £16.99, October 1995, 0 7181 3909 7
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... when I didn’t apply myself to the task with the eagerness of a lover.’ When his first wife, Ruth, had some friends to tea and Wainwright came home unexpectedly from the office, she shooed them out of the house: ‘Everybody out,’ she cried, ‘he’s back!’ His son Peter shared Wainwright’s walks when he was a boy. Touching black and white ...

The Englishness of English

Roy Harris, 6 November 1980

Studies in English Linguistics for Randolph Quirk 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 304 pp., £18, September 1980, 0 582 55079 3
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... is given in the Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English) is itself impressive: Noam Chomsky, Ruth Kempson, Sidney Greenbaum, Dwight Bolinger, P.H. Matthews, Sven Jacobson, M.A.K. Halliday, Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey Leech, Jennifer Coates, F.R. Palmer, R.A. Close, John Sinclair, Jan Firbas, Nils Enkvist, David Crystal, Jan Svartvik, Wolf-Dietrich ...

The Head in the Shed

Gavin Francis: Reading Bones, 21 January 2021

Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind 
by Sue Black.
Doubleday, 359 pp., £18.99, September 2020, 978 0 85752 690 8
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... else. In one case, she points out to a colleague conducting a post-mortem the stripes – ‘Harris lines’ – visible on the X-rays of the skeleton of a boy who had killed himself. Harris lines are caused by periods of intense stress, as if the child’s body recognises that although obliged to continue growing, it ...

Richardson, alas

Claude Rawson, 12 November 1987

Samuel Richardson 
by Jocelyn Harris.
Cambridge, 179 pp., £22.50, February 1987, 0 521 30501 2
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... Marxist and feminist. He doesn’t, on the face of it, seem the type. It’s a merit of Jocelyn Harris’s book nevertheless to demonstrate sensitively and without pretentious haranguing that Richardson ‘speaks ... to feminist concerns’ and played an honourable part in ‘the “fair sex debate” ’ (the phrase suggests how anachronistic it is, as Mrs ...

Minnesota Fates

Ferdinand Mount, 12 October 1989

We Are Still Married 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 330 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 14140 4
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... and versifiers, all born in the 1830 and 1840s: Bret Harte, Artemus Ward, Joel Chandler Harris and, lion among them, Mark Twain. With O. Henry, born a decade later, we are already moving out of the oral tradition, with its loose-limbed jogtrot rhythms and its shameless delight in red herrings and shaggy dogs, its weakness for pratfalls and ...

The Stansgate Tapes

John Turner, 8 December 1994

Years of Hope: Diaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... became a success at the Union and worked up his debating skills on an American tour with Kenneth Harris and Edward Boyle. The tour allowed for an excited response to the vigour and variety of American civilisation, which many young Englishmen have felt; though not many young Englishmen in New York got to stay with Reinhold Niebuhr. The Oxford letters and ...

Short Cuts

Adam Shatz: The Four-Year Assault, 21 January 2021

... McConnell who pushed for the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, within days of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. But Trump and the mob were now liabilities. So he cut his losses and covered himself in the ennobling rhetoric of constitutionalism. So did his wife, Elaine Chao, Trump’s secretary of transportation, who tendered her resignation ...

Madness and Method

Mark Philp, 3 April 1986

The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry Vol. I: People and Ideas, Vol. II: Institutions and Society 
edited by W.F. Bynum, Roy Porter and Michael Shepherd.
Tavistock, 316 pp., £19.95, November 1985, 0 422 79430 9
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Madness, Morality and Medicine: A Study of the York Retreat 1796-1914 
by Anne Digby.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £27.50, October 1985, 0 521 26067 1
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... with considerable flair. While most pieces have some virtues, some are really exceptionally good. Ruth Harris’s account in Volume Two of the feud between Charcot’s Paris school and Bernheim’s coterie at Nancy, over the value (and risks) of hypnosis and the nature of the hypnotic state, moves elegantly from an account of one of France’s more ...

Who had the most fun?

David Bromwich: The Marx Brothers, 10 May 2001

Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Penguin, 480 pp., £7.99, April 2001, 0 14 029426 0
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The Essential Groucho 
by Groucho Marx, edited by Stefan Kanfer.
Penguin, 254 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 14 029425 2
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... his gains. A natural tightwad and a careful investor, he settled in Long Island with his wife Ruth, and by 1929 had amassed a fortune of $250,000, to say nothing of 24 bungalows in Far Rockaway. Most of it went down in the crash that year. ‘You lose your money in the market,’ Chico said. ‘I toss mine away on dames and gambling. Who had the most ...

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