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Water on the Brain

Dinah Birch: Spurious Ghosts, 30 November 2023

‘The Virgin of the Seven Daggers’ and Other Stories 
by Vernon Lee, edited by Aaron Worth.
Oxford, 352 pp., £7.99, September 2022, 978 0 19 883754 1
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... many of which linger in the mind long after the details of her theoretical arguments have faded. Aaron Worth’s careful edition of these stories, with an introduction that does justice to their centrality in her oeuvre, includes Lee’s own discussions of the genre. In her preface to Hauntings: Fantastic Stories (1890), a collection of four of her most ...

Aaron, Gabriel and Bonaparte

Amanda Prantera, 19 December 1985

The Periodic Table 
by Primo Levi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Joseph, 233 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780718126360
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... relatives and family, all respected members of Turin’s Jewish community. We meet Uncles Gabriel, Aaron and Bonaparte, dignified and ineffectual, sheltering from reality behind inch-thick lenses or barriers of learned books, aunts with tormented pasts who never leave their rooms, gourmet grandmothers, great-aunts, uncles of grandmothers ... The pick of an ...

It’s just a book

Philip Horne, 17 December 1992

by Paul Auster.
Faber, 245 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 571 16786 1
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... put into play. The story is narrated by a Paul Auster figure, a dedicated novelist called Peter Aaron whose c.v. includes a French apprenticeship, a novel called Luna, even (like his creator) a spell teaching at Princeton. He writes about Sachs, who has confided to him the secret of his final, fatal phase, from an admiring, quizzical standpoint not unlike ...


Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London, 17 March 2005

Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... a letter to his friend and sometime client of his printing house, the poet and cultural factotum Aaron Hill, that ‘I have bought Mr Pope over so often, and his Dunciad so lately before his last new-vampt one, that I am tir’d of the Extravagance; and wonder every Body else is not.’ Richardson especially resented the poem’s editorial ...

Here is a little family

Amit Chaudhuri, 9 July 1992

After Silence 
by Jonathan Carroll.
Macdonald, 240 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 356 20342 5
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The Law of White Space 
by Giorgio Pressburger.
Granta, 172 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 0 14 014221 5
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Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree 
by Tariq Ali.
Chatto, 240 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 7011 3944 7
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... the Los Angeles County Museum, where his work is on display, his life collides with that of Lily Aaron, a divorcee with a son called Lincoln. Lily shows a womanly sophistication and cynical maturity that one presumes must come from her past experiences of ‘things not working out’, and a disarming, sentimental girlishness which surely must have betrayed ...

Portrait of a Failure

Daniel Aaron, 25 January 1990

Henry Adams 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 504 pp., £19.95, November 1989, 9780674387355
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The Letters of Henry Adams: Vols I-VI 
edited by J.C Levenson, Ernest Samuels, Charles Vandersee and Viola Hopkins-Winner.
Harvard, 2016 pp., £100.75, July 1990, 0 674 52685 6
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... of everything: scenery, psychology, history, literature, poetry, art; anything, in short, that is worth throwing in; and I want to grill a few literary and political gentlemen with champagne.’ That’s not such a bad summation of his books and many of his letters. Lighthearted, lyrical, clever, and comparatively unbuttoned, the best display a wonderfully ...

Mercenary Knights and Princess Brides

Barbara Newman: Medieval Travel, 17 August 2017

The Medieval Invention of Travel 
by Shayne Aaron Legassie.
Chicago, 287 pp., £22, April 2017, 978 0 226 44662 2
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... In​ the Middle Ages,’ Shayne Aaron Legassie writes, ‘travel was nasty, brutish and long.’ Before planes, railways or steamships, it was inseparable from its etymological twin, travail – both derived from the name of an ancient Roman instrument of torture. Peregrinus, the medieval term for a ‘pilgrim’ or ‘traveller’, in classical Latin meant an ‘exile’ or ‘alien ...

On Roy DeCarava

Gazelle Mba, 7 April 2022

... Parks’s protest shots, Robert Frank’s The Americans, Diane Arbus’s weirdos), wouldn’t be worth the film it was shot on – but it was different for Roy DeCarava. Hallway (1953) is a photo about nothing except a dark, empty corridor in a Harlem tenement: a quiet image that speaks to what it was like to inhabit these forgotten spaces, to be a ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age, 21 June 2001

The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... sometimes awkward. In the original, the bullet that passes through the left eye of a portrait of Aaron Burr now passes through the left eye ‘of our great-granddaddy Aaron Burr’, words spoken by a sister to a brother (who presumably knows who his great-granddaddy was – or who his father, wrongly, claims his ...


Frank Kermode, 11 May 1995

John Gay: A Profession of Friendship. A Critical Biography 
by David Nokes.
Oxford, 563 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 19 812971 8
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... aspiring to literature, took the obvious course and became a hack. He served under the command of Aaron Hill, a man worth a new biography (the last was published eighty years ago) since it could assist understanding of the power structures of the time as they affected writers. Hill’s career included some stormy passages ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Social Network’, 4 November 2010

The Social Network 
directed by David Fincher.
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... is fast and intelligent and mean, a sort of screwball comedy without the laughs. It’s written by Aaron Sorkin, whose credits include The West Wing and A Few Good Men, and based on a novelised history by Ben Mezrich, The Accidental Billionaires. As long as it stays with the details of its tale – the faces, the clothes, the dialogue, the rooms, the ...

Short Cuts

Paul Myerscough: The Pret Buzz, 3 January 2013

... the high street by paying its workers properly. Neither is it clear that it would be able to. As Aaron Peters and James Butler argued on a recent edition of Novara, a weekly politics discussion programme on Resonance FM, the real significance of the kerfuffle over Starbucks and tax avoidance is what it tells us about the crisis of profitability in the high ...


Ian Sansom: A novel about work, 2 December 2004

Some Great Thing 
by Colin McAdam.
Cape, 358 pp., £12.99, March 2004, 9780224064552
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... as finely portrayed, it does sometimes seem as if he’s getting in the way of the main man, like Aaron muscling in on Moses. Sometimes, when Simon’s around, wooing the improbably named Kwyet, it can be a struggle to get from one end of McAdam’s poetic-leaning sentences to another, but Some Great Thing is scattered with enough great little things to keep ...

Transparent Criticism

Anne Barton, 21 June 1984

A New Mimesis: Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Methuen, 209 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 416 31780 4
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... never lost its root meaning of ‘what actually happens’. If Dr Johnson and other critics worth heeding expressed a preference for the species over the aberrant individual, they did so on the grounds of a more widespread, a common and therefore more powerful truth, not because they were upholding arbitrary ‘laws of the text’. And they saw no ...

You Are the Product

John Lanchester: It Zucks!, 17 August 2017

The Attention Merchants: From the Daily Newspaper to Social Media, How Our Time and Attention Is Harvested and Sold 
by Tim Wu.
Atlantic, 416 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78239 482 2
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Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine 
by Antonio García Martínez.
Ebury, 528 pp., £8.99, June 2017, 978 1 78503 455 8
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Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon have Cornered Culture and What It Means for All of Us 
by Jonathan Taplin.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 5098 4769 3
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... for instance, depends on the fact that insurers charge customers more than their insurance is worth; that’s fair enough, since if they didn’t do that they wouldn’t be viable as businesses. What isn’t fair is the panoply of cynical techniques that many insurers use to avoid, as far as possible, paying out when the insured-against event ...

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