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All in the Family

Sylvia Lawson, 3 December 1992

Letters to Sartre 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Quintin Hoare.
Radius, 531 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 09 174774 0
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Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvior, 1926-1939 
edited by Simone de Beauvior, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee.
Hamish Hamilton, 448 pp., £20, November 1992, 9780241133361
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... Ronald Hayman) over those from the Beauvoir biographies (Deirdre Bair – very much the best; Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier, Margaret Crosland). Check those against the crucial four volumes of Beauvoir’s memoirs, those translated as The Prime of Life, Force of Circumstance, All Said and Done and Adieux: A farewell to Sartre. Crosscheck ...

Fearless Solipsist

Anita Brookner, 31 July 1997

by Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier.
Perrin, 439 pp., frs 139, April 1997, 2 262 01224 5
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... The appellation of ‘femme cachée’ could apply as much to Sido as to her celebrated daughter. Francis and Gontier reveal the existence of a mulatto grandfather – Colette’s ‘goutte de sang noir’ – as well as unveiling Sido’s excitable character, her restlessness, her intellectual and social ambitions. Born in Paris, she was in many ways a true ...

Whip with Six Strings

Lucy Wooding: Anne Boleyn’s Allure, 8 February 2024

Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Marriage That Shook Europe 
by John Guy and Julia Fox.
Bloomsbury, 581 pp., £30, September 2023, 978 1 5266 3152 7
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... ambition.After her time in the Netherlands, Anne moved to the French court to wait on Queen Claude, wife of Francis I. Claude surrounded herself with an educated, cultured community of women. She owned pictures by Raphael and Sebastiano del Piombo, and encouraged her husband’s ...

Wolf, Turtle, Bear

Francis Gooding: ‘Wild Thought’, 26 May 2022

Wild Thought: A New Translation of ‘La Pensée sauvage’ 
by Claude Lévi-Strauss, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman and John Leavitt.
Chicago, 357 pp., £16, January 2021, 978 0 226 41308 2
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... I have a neolithic kind of intelligence,’ Claude Lévi-Strauss remarked in Tristes Tropiques (1955), his luminous reminiscence of anthropological fieldwork in Brazil. He didn’t mean he was a caveman. His own gloss was that his intellectual affinities were closer to the people anthropologists usually studied than to the people doing the studying ...

Don’t do it!

Wendy Doniger: Dick Francis, 15 October 1998

Field of 13 
by Dick Francis.
Joseph, 273 pp., £16.99, September 1998, 0 7181 4351 5
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... Any Dick Francis novel about horses and crime satisfies my definition of a myth: like a myth, it is one of a corpus of interrelated stories (most, though not all, about horses, and many about an ex-jockey named Sid Halley) held sacred by a group (Dick Francis fans, or Franciscans of a sort, Francisfans, who recognise one another, like ((Star)) Trekkies, across several continents, without benefit of secret handshake or decoder ring) over a period of time punctuated by ritual events: once a year since 1962, when, after a long career as a champion National Hunt jockey, he published his first novel, Dead Cert, we have celebrated the new Francis novel ...

On Richard Mosse

Francis Gooding, 10 August 2023

... parts of the Amazon: the Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Cuiabá – the same places whose lost isolation Claude Lévi-Strauss lamented in Tristes Tropiques. In Broken Spectre, they are of three varieties: close-up images of jungle life; composite multispectral images of the jungle from the air; and black and white infrared images of the human beings who live and ...

At the Pompidou-Metz

Francis Gooding: ‘Lacan: L’Exposition’, 9 May 2024

... one of the reconstructions of The Large Glass and his vicious little Female Fig Leaf; works by Claude Cahun, Brancusi and Dalí. As well as the Caravaggio, there are paintings by Zurbarán (Saint Lucy, holding out her eyes on a platter) and Velázquez’s Portrait of the Infanta Marguerite Thérèse. (Las Meninas, like The Ambassadors, doesn’t ...

I was invisible

Christian Lorentzen: Viet Thanh Nguyen, 18 November 2021

The Committed 
by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Corsair, 345 pp., £8.99, March 2021, 978 1 4721 5253 4
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... nine, he and his mother had fled the communists in the North and encountered an American called Claude, nominally working in refugee relief but actually a CIA agent. At a lycée in Saigon, he formed a bond with two fellow students, Bon and Man. Bon, embittered by the death of his father at the hands of the Viet Cong, favoured the Americans. Man and the ...

A Prehistory of Extraordinary Rendition

Patrick Cockburn, 13 September 2012

... of a telegram dated 21 August 1908 and headed ‘Rendition of Corean’. It was addressed to Sir Claude MacDonald, the British ambassador in Tokyo, and warned of the potentially disastrous public reaction in Britain if ‘it became known that we had handed over a prisoner to the Japanese.’ The word ‘rendition’ was meant in exactly the same sense that ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... I first met Francis Wyndham in 1968, when I went to the Sunday Times Magazine looking for a job. A thunderstorm in the Gray’s Inn Road had soaked my cheap lightweight blue suit, bought in Johannesburg, and I was thinking my appearance had cost me my chance. At that time everyone – writers and photographers – seemed to want to write for the Magazine, then under the editorship of Godfrey Smith ...

A Spot of Firm Government

Terry Eagleton: Claude Rawson, 23 August 2001

God, Gulliver and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination 1492-1945 
by Claude Rawson.
Oxford, 401 pp., £25, June 2001, 0 19 818425 5
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... only to upbraid such notions as imperialist. ‘We are obsessed with “barbarians”,’ Claude Rawson remarks in this erudite, passionate book; but by ‘we’ he seems to be thinking of literary critics, not grapepickers or hairdressers. The good news is that the Home Counties view of literature has now been decisively despatched. The native of the ...

Nothing he hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been

Adam Shatz: Claude Lanzmann, 5 April 2012

The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir 
by Claude Lanzmann, translated by Frank Wynne.
Atlantic, 528 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 1 84887 360 5
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... The life of Claude Lanzmann, Claude Lanzmann declares at the beginning of his memoir, has been ‘a rich, multifaceted and unique story’. Self-flattery is characteristically Lanzmannian, but its truth in this case can hardly be denied. He has lived on a grand scale. A teenage fighter in the Resistance, he became Sartre’s protégé in the early 1950s as an editor at Les Temps modernes ...

Liquid Fiction

Thomas Jones: ‘The Child that Books Built’, 25 April 2002

The Child that Books Built: A Memoir of Childhood and Reading 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 214 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 571 19132 0
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A Child’s Book of True Crime: A Novel 
by Chloe Hooper.
Cape, 238 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 0 224 06237 9
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... residual still, that there might be a mystical, if misty, relationship between reading and power. Francis Spufford, a third of the way into The Child that Books Built, tells the following story: I learnt to read around my sixth birthday. I was making a dinosaur in school from crepe bandage and toilet rolls when I started to feel as if an invisible pump was ...

At Victoria Miro

Brian Dillon: Francesca Woodman, 20 January 2011

... a table scattered with fruit. She flails before the camera until she’s an inhuman blur, invoking Francis Bacon, aiming, in her words, to make ‘something soft wriggle and snake around a hard architectural outline’. She crawls half-naked into cupboards in homage to the odd dandyish self-portraits of Claude Cahun. When ...

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