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Love Story

Susan Watkins: Rosa Luxemburg

21 February 2002
Rosa Luxemburg: An Intimate Portrait 
by Mathilde Jacob, translated by Hans Fernbach.
Lawrence and Wishart, 143 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 85315 900 9
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... In the feverish atmosphere that gripped Europe after the Russian Revolution, there were many who saw insurrection as a gateway to the future: 1919 brought revolutionary uprisings in Budapest, Munich and Berlin. In Germany, the newly installed Social Democratic Government bloodied its hands suppressing the revolts. Since the regular troops could not be relied on, the SPD Defence Minister Gustav Noske ...

War on God! That is Progress!

Susan Watkins: Paul Lafargue and French socialism

13 May 1999
Paul Lafargue and the Flowering of French Socialism, 1882-1911 
by Leslie Derfler.
Harvard, 382 pp., £27.95, July 1998, 0 674 65912 0
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... Paul Lafargue drove Engels to despair. Negotiating with other French socialists over the founding of the Parti Ouvrier Français in 1881, he committed ‘blunder after blunder’ and nearly wrecked the whole thing. In 1889, charged with organising the founding conference of the Second International in Paris, he was making ‘a terrible hash of things’. Wilhelm Liebknecht, the ageing leader of the ...

Determined to Spin

Susan Watkins

22 June 2000
The Clear Stream: A Life of Winifred Holtby 
by Marion Shaw.
Virago, 335 pp., £18.99, August 1999, 1 86049 537 0
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... How I envied Winifred Holtby,’ wrote the novelist Phyllis Bentley. ‘Tall and fair and handsome ... that lovely speaking voice, that precision of English, that flat in London, that post on Time and Tide, those interesting wellcut clothes, that Oxford degree.’ And, she might have added, those six vivid, heartfelt novels, the last, South Riding (1936), achieving the status of a minor classic ...

Vanity and Venality

Susan Watkins: The European Impasse

29 August 2013
Un New Deal pour l’Europe 
by Michel Aglietta and Thomas Brand.
Odile Jacob, 305 pp., £20, March 2013, 978 2 7381 2902 4
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Gekaufte Zeit: Die vertagte Krise des demokratischen Kapitalismus 
by Wolfgang Streeck.
Suhrkamp, 271 pp., £20, March 2013, 978 3 518 58592 4
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The Crisis of the European Union: A Response 
by Jürgen Habermas, translated by Ciaran Cronin.
Polity, 120 pp., £16.99, April 2012, 978 0 7456 6242 8
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For Europe! Manifesto for a Postnational Revolution in Europe 
by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Guy Verhofstadt.
CreateSpace, 152 pp., £9.90, September 2012, 978 1 4792 6188 8
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German Europe 
by Ulrich Beck, translated by Rodney Livingstone.
Polity, 98 pp., £16.99, March 2013, 978 0 7456 6539 9
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The Future of Europe: Towards a Two-Speed EU? 
by Jean-Claude Piris.
Cambridge, 166 pp., £17.99, December 2011, 978 1 107 66256 8
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Au Revoir, Europe: What if Britain Left the EU? 
by David Charter.
Biteback, 334 pp., £14.99, December 2012, 978 1 84954 121 3
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... All quiet on the euro front? Seen from Berlin, it looks as though the continent is now under control at last, after the macro-financial warfare of the last three years. A new authority, the Troika, is policing the countries that got themselves into trouble; governments are constitutionally bound to the principles of good housekeeping. Further measures will be needed for the banks – but all in good ...

Acts of Violence in Grosvenor Square

Christopher Hitchens: Memoirs of a Revolutionary

4 June 1998
1968: Marching in the Streets 
by Tariq Ali and Susan Watkins.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 7475 3763 1
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The Beginning of the End: France, May 1968 
by Angelo Quattrocchi and Tom Nairn.
Verso, 175 pp., £10, May 1998, 1 85984 290 9
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The Love Germ 
by Jill Neville.
Verso, 149 pp., £9, May 1998, 1 85984 285 2
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... power. (When he spoke at the main event in Berkeley, the Communists tried to keep his appearance until last and then cut off the microphone.) There’s a kaleidoscopic feel to the pages of the Ali-Watkins volume. Turn the pages in a hurry and you go from the Tet offensive in Vietnam to the strikes in Poland to the murder of Dr King and the ghetto insurrection, getting no time to take breath for les é ...
24 September 1992
Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... gather to discuss ‘Literature and Power: The Changing Nineties: Writing after the Cold War’. In addition to Bradbury’s invented personages the conferees include Martin Amis, Günter Grass and Susan Sontag (she skips one of the later conferences in the narrative, on the grounds that there is something more interesting going on in Northern Italy). Bradbury’s Villa Barolo is funded by the ...

How do they see you?

Elizabeth Spelman: Martha Nussbaum

16 November 2000
Sex and Social Justice 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Oxford, 476 pp., £25, July 1999, 0 19 511032 3
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Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £17.95, May 2000, 0 521 66086 6
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... testified: ‘Well, I like a good blow job, and the women downtown don’t know how to suck dick worth a damn. But this man happens to suck mine better than anyone I have ever found in the world’ (Watkins v. US Army and related testimony). In one of the book’s most engaging and original chapters, Nussbaum argues that certain forms of objectification of other people’s bodies might enhance sexual ...

Mother-Haters and Other Rebels

Barbara Taylor: Heroine Chic

3 January 2002
Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage 
by Elaine Showalter.
Picador, 384 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 330 34669 5
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... feminist literati. But the result is a group portrait of the feminist academy, or at least its lit-crit wing, that is insular, coy and monochrome (only one black feminist academic, Gloria Jean Watkins – ‘bell hooks’ – and only one black writer of an earlier generation, Zora Neale Hurston, appear, and these only briefly). A pity this, since Showalter is probably right to regard herself and ...
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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... he was dead.’ Later, there were tests. A virus detectable in the blood. You were ill, but you might not feel it yet. Might not know it yet, except you did. ‘A new class of lifetime pariahs’, Susan Sontag called them in Aids and Its Metaphors: ‘the future ill’. The artist and film-maker Derek Jarman remembered his HIV diagnosis, in 1986: I thought: this is not true, then I realised the ...

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