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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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... for they bore no intelligible relation to any of the above. ‘The euro is essentially a foreign currency for every Eurozone country,’ the French economist Michel Aglietta and his co-author, ThomasBrand, write in Un New Deal pour l’Europe. ‘It binds them to rigidly fixed exchange rates, regardless of their underlying economic realities, and strips them of monetary autonomy.’ For Aglietta ...

Don’t Die

Jenny Diski: Among the Handbags

1 November 2007
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre 
by Dana Thomas.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 7139 9823 8
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... receive medical treatment, but you know what they mean.) Luxury can and must be anyone’s now, and ‘everyone’ wants it or they’ll die. In order to accommodate this novel notion of deluxe, Dana Thomas, in her startling and richly informative book, draws a line between luxury and ‘the luxury industry’: The luxury industry has changed the way people dress. It has realigned our economic class ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: Rough Guiding

1 June 2000
... associated with anti-corporate rhetoric: he talks of ‘eye-opening disaster stories’ and threats to ‘integrity’. It just so happens that he has in mind the difficulty of ‘maintaining brand integrity’, and the so-called ‘disasters’ are ‘international marketing blunders’. Any suspicions that this might be devaluing the word ‘disaster’ are confirmed when you read the first ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: Military intelligence

4 April 2002
... physical exertion’. Nil nisi bonum? So far as I know, Elyesa Bazna wasn’t honoured with a Times obituary of his own, his walk-on part in HKH’s send-off his only claim to that particular brand of immortality. The German Government paid him £300,000 for his pains, of which, HKH’s elegist recounts with some glee, ‘all but the first £29,000 was in forged sterling notes’ – so he didn ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: The Ryanverse

11 July 2002
... number of the rocket in question – in the mid-1980s with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October. The story of the Lithuanian captain of a Soviet submarine defecting to the West, taking his brand-new ship with him, was first published by the Naval Institute Press – ‘the semi-official mouthpiece’, in Clancy’s words, ‘of the US Navy’. Nobody, least of all Clancy, at the time an ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: ‘Big Brother’

5 June 2003
... network television is concerned, however, summer is already over: the autumn schedules have been put on lavish display so advertisers can decide where to bestow their munificence. And of the 38 brand-new programmes on the six major channels, none is a ‘reality’ show. This doesn’t mean, however, that the slough of degeneracy has at last been traversed and civilisation is advancing to the ...

Short Cuts

Jonathan Meades: This Thing Called the Future

7 September 2016
... the unique local environment … enhancing burrowing owl habitats.’ Among the other architects on this West Coast gravy train are, predictably, those consummate exterior decorators Frank Gehry and Thomas Heatherwick. They are unlikely to cede control to the rodents inhabiting their bespoke boxes which plainly derive from the biospheres and domes of the late 1960s and 1970s. Those are among the more ...

No Fun

David Blackbourn: Heinrich and Thomas​ Mann

15 October 1998
Letters of Heinrich and Thomas​ Mann, 1900-49 
edited by Hans Wysling, translated by Don Reneau.
California, 444 pp., £40, March 1998, 0 520 07278 2
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... Twenty years ago Nigel Hamilton wrote a double biography of the literary Brothers Mann, giving equal billing to the celebrated Thomas and the neglected Heinrich. It was certainly time to look again at Heinrich, whose importance as a public and literary figure had been taken for granted by an earlier generation of writers. Gottfried ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle

5 August 2004
The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... it appears, of the Welsh patriot Rhys ap Maredudd. Cragh had been captured by the men of William de Briouze, Lord of Gower, and sentenced by him to hang as a rebel and a homicide. The saint was Thomas de Cantilupe, former bishop of Hereford, who had died in 1282. From soon after his death posthumous miracles had begun to be attributed to him, and he was officially canonised by Pope John XXII in ...

Staging Death

Martin Puchner: Ibsen's Modernism

8 February 2007
Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theatre, Philosophy 
by Toril Moi.
Oxford, 396 pp., £25, August 2006, 0 19 929587 5
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... most productive period of his life. Ibsen’s decision to move abroad seems to have been coupled with a desire to distance himself from the theatre. He called the first two texts he wrote in Rome – Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867) – dramatic poems because he wanted to be free of the practical requirements of stage business. Their imaginative power exceeded that of anything he had written before ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: Literary Prizes

10 May 2001
... the prize’s PR firm, who seems to think odds of 4-1 are shorter than 5-2. Impac, for the record, is a ‘management-engineering company’, and shouldn’t be confused with Immac, which is a brand line of depilatory treatments. The 43-year-old WHSmith Literary Award, forced to compete in an ever-expanding marketplace and unable to lay claim to any absolute superlatives – it’s merely ‘one ...

Ante Antietam

Michael Irwin

24 January 1980
by Thomas​ Keneally.
Collins, 427 pp., £5.75, October 1980, 0 00 222141 1
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Just Above My Head 
by James Baldwin.
Joseph, 597 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1764 6
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Winter Doves 
by David Cook.
Secker, 213 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 10673 6
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All Girls Together 
by Paula Neuss.
Duckworth, 141 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7156 1454 1
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... and reach predestined conclusions. Descriptions of uniforms, weapons and furnishings clog the narrative. The novel becomes a farrago of information. In choosing to write about the American Civil War Thomas Keneally ran several additional risks. The potential subject-matter is dauntingly multifarious. How could so vast a tragedy be focused and individualised? It was a war that fairly compels the ...

In the Graveyard of Verse

William Wootten: Vernon Watkins

9 August 2001
The Collected Poems of Vernon Watkins 
Golgonooza, 495 pp., £16.95, October 2000, 0 903880 73 3Show More
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... of Watkins as a hard-working, pleasant and largely irrelevant anachronism to prevail, and for poets and critics to forgive him, by forgetting how in the 1930s and 1940s, under the influence of Dylan Thomas, he was an eager perpetrator of New Romanticism. Watkins was at Repton and Cambridge with Christopher Isherwood, and makes a cameo appearance as the gullible Percival in Lions and Shadows ...

Simon Agonistes

Randolph Quirk

5 November 1981
Paradigms Lost: Reflections on Literacy and its Decline 
by John Simon.
Chatto, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 7011 2601 9
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... How do you measure decline in literacy? Despite his subtitle, John Simon seems to sidestep this one completely. As well he might. Bombastic English has been vigorously deplored since the time of Sir Thomas More, and it would be difficult to demonstrate that there was relatively more (or less) of it around today. Bad spelling is certainly no measure. As a popular touchstone of literacy standards, it has ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment

20 November 2014
The Collected Poems of Dylan ThomasThe New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas​ Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... Dylan Thomas’s​ foredoomed premature death feels intrinsic to his late romanticism, part of what made him the ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive’, as he labelled himself. But he could have escaped the legend to ...

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