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I was the Human Torch

Lili Owen Rowlands: Guillaume Dustan, 15 December 2022

The Works of Guillaume Dustan, Vol. 1: ‘In My Room’, ‘I’m Going Out Tonight’, ‘Stronger Than Me’ 
edited by Thomas Clerc, translated by Daniel Maroun.
Semiotext(e), 383 pp., £14.99, June 2021, 978 1 63590 142 9
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... In​ 1984 Guillaume Dustan drafted a personal ad: ‘In brief: young man, eighteen, hypokhâgne, Lycée Henri-IV, short brown hair, 1.7 metres, part preppy, part 1950s greaser, not very sporty – sensual – funny, neither a party animal nor a bookworm. Now let’s see if the feeling is mutual …’ Written when he still went by the name William Baranès, it anticipates the Guillaume Dustan to come: the pointed mention of his prestigious schooling; the importance of cultivating ‘a look’ (often imported from America); the fear of being consigned to a particular identity or sphere (either the nightclub or the library) that might foreclose some as yet unknown experience ...


Thomas Keymer: Muddy Texts, 25 January 2024

Reading It Wrong: An Alternative History of Early 18th-Century Literature 
by Abigail Williams.
Princeton, 328 pp., £30, November 2023, 978 0 691 17068 8
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... a formidable scholar, came off looking fussy and dim. Another critic, the Swiss theologian Jean Le Clerc, enjoyed Swift’s textual pyrotechnics but craved stability of meaning: ‘An odd game … goes on throughout the book, where we often do not know whether the author is making fun or not, nor of whom, nor what his intention is.’The historian Dror Wahrman ...

Lights On and Away We Go

Keith Thomas: Happy Thoughts, 20 May 2021

The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790 
by Ritchie Robertson.
Allen Lane, 984 pp., £40, November 2020, 978 0 241 00482 1
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... Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury, wrote excitedly to the Swiss biblical scholar Jean Le Clerc. ‘There is,’ he declared, ‘a mighty light which spreads itself over the world, especially in those two free nations of England and Holland, upon whom the affairs of Europe now turn; and if Heaven sends us a peace soon … it is impossible but letters ...

Rub gently out with stale bread

Adam Smyth: The Print Craze, 2 November 2017

The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820 
by Antony Griffiths.
British Museum, 560 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 7141 2695 1
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... every subject of drawing in a single publication (Sayer recycles prints drawn from Sébastian Le Clerc’s Principes de dessin, among several other titles), and the book as a whole reflects the status of drawing as both a useful artisanal skill and a polite leisure activity newly separated from utilitarian applications of surveying, heraldry or craft. With ...

The Ironist

J.G.A. Pocock: Gibbon under Fire, 14 November 2002

Gibbon and the ‘Watchmen of the Holy City’: The Historian and His Reputation 1776-1815 
by David Womersley.
Oxford, 452 pp., £65, January 2002, 0 19 818733 5
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... Zoroaster? Gibbon cites three major scholars as guiding his history of the early Church: Jean Le Clerc, a Genevan exile living in Amsterdam, Isaac de Beausobre, a Huguenot exile living in Berlin, and Johann Lorenz von Mosheim, a professor in the Lutheran universities of Helmstedt and Göttingen. Each was deeply involved in the problems of the history of ...


Tim Dee: Derek Walcott’s Birthday Party, 22 May 2014

... matter here. By the time he arrived on the island in the 1550s the French privateer François Le Clerc had lost one of his in a naval battle with the British off Guernsey and contrived a wooden replacement: Jambe de Bois, as he was known, is probably the original pegleg pirate. Amy Winehouse holidayed in this rum-rich environment in 2009, performing when she ...

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