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My Hermit’s Life

Tim Parks: Chateaubriand, 27 September 2018

Memoirs from beyond the Grave 1768-1800 
by François-René de Chateaubriand, translated by Alex Andriesse.
NYRB, 512 pp., £12.99, January 2018, 978 1 68137 129 0
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... and one can’t help feeling how much more the Memoirs must mean to a French reader. All the same, Alex Andriesse has done a wonderful job suggesting the range of tone and feeling Chateaubriand offers, his shifts from the ecstatic to the dry, from the descriptive to the cryptic. Even in English he comes across as compulsively quotable, especially at his ...

You have to take it

Joanne O’Leary: Elizabeth Hardwick’s Style, 17 November 2022

A Splendid Intelligence: The Life of Elizabeth Hardwick 
by Cathy Curtis.
Norton, 400 pp., £25, January, 978 1 324 00552 0
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The Uncollected Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick, edited by Alex Andriesse.
NYRB, 304 pp., £15.99, May, 978 1 68137 623 3
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... Elizabeth Hardwick​ was wary of biographers. She called life-writing ‘a scrofulous cottage industry’, a ‘consistent fiction’ masquerading as truth. Its practitioners were necrophiliacs ‘quick in pursuit of the dead’. In her book on Herman Melville, she wrote of the ‘violent exuberance’ that accompanied his rediscovery by critics in the 1920s: ‘He was unearthed … the whole skeleton, as it were, put under the floodlights, a penetrating radar giving the bones a voluptuous rebirth ...

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