Michael Wood

Michael Wood is an emeritus professor at Princeton. He has written books on Yeats, Nabokov, Stendhal, Hitchcock and Empson, among other things.

At the Movies: 'The Dead Don't Hurt'

Michael Wood, 20 June 2024

The opening scenes​ of Viggo Mortensen’s new film, The Dead Don’t Hurt, are like an essay in montage or a puzzle for students of Sergei Eisenstein and André Bazin. A knight in armour rides a horse through a forest. A woman lies in bed. There is a shoot-out in a small Western town. How are we to put these pictures together? Mortensen is not going to help us. He gives us...

At the Movies: ‘La Chimera’

Michael Wood, 23 May 2024

‘Judge ye,’ Ezra Pound says of a character in one of his poems, ‘Have I dug him up again?’ One answer is obviously yes. In ‘Sestina: Altaforte’, the old troubadour Bertran de Born – with his ‘whoreson dogs’ and ‘hell blot black’ – is as alive as any written character can be, and more alive than many of Pound’s...

‘When I wrote film criticism,’ Jean-Luc Godard said in 1978, ‘I never saw the difference between talking about a film and making one.’ There was a serious difference, as he well knew, since at the time of most of this writing he had not made a film of his own. The claim is interesting, though, because Godard always liked to mix modes, and never really wanted to...

At the Movies: ‘The Delinquents’

Michael Wood, 25 April 2024

Rodrigo Moreno’sThe Delinquents has taken a while to reach us. Its premiere was at Cannes in May 2023. The fate of the film imitates, in a way, its main theme. It’s about getting lost, or not getting lost enough. It has been described as a heist movie and a comedy. These labels are appropriate only if every bank robbery is a heist, and if we call films comedies when we...

At the Movies: ‘American Fiction’

Michael Wood, 21 March 2024

Percival Everett’s​ brilliant novel The Trees (2021) offers a heady mixture of comedy and horror. The depiction of race, crime and policing in the American South is too parodic to be true, and too true to be only a parody. His earlier work Erasure (2001) took us to the same territory, although not so far south, and with more precarious modes of balance. Some of the comedy was...

Pirouette on a Sixpence: Untranslatables

Christopher Prendergast, 10 September 2015

On​ the face of it a Dictionary of Untranslatables looks like a contradiction in terms, either self-imploding from the word go, or, if pursued, headed fast down a cul-de-sac in which it is...

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It took a very special kind of invention to get an awareness of the ‘erratic truth of death’s timing’ into a medium of mass entertainment.

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I told you so! oracles

James Davidson, 2 December 2004

I don’t believe in astrology, but I also know that not believing in astrology is a typically Taurean trait. When I first caught a bright young friend browsing in the astrology section of a...

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And That Rug! images of Shakespeare

Michael Dobson, 6 November 2003

Above the entrance to the saloon bar there is a picture of Shakespeare on the swinging sign. It is the same picture of Shakespeare that I remember from my schooldays, when I frowned over Timon of...

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Unspeakability

John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

Musing over Don Juan, Byron asked his banker and agent Douglas Kinnaird a rhetorical question: ‘Could any man have written it – who has not lived in the world? – and tooled in a...

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