The renowned editor and writer takes a walk from the south of Paris to the north and finds the metropolis still in the grip of revolution
Eric Hazan’s politically engaged books on Paris reveal not a museum city but a loud, lively, chaotic metropolis, relevant and revolutionary even in the 21st century. France’s capital is, like any other major city, a place with a radical spread of haves and have nots. What it looks like now, the nature of its living history and how it is under threat from gentrification and other market forces are the subjects of Hazan’s new study, which follows a walk across Paris from south to north, along “the Paris meridian”.
In a review of Hazan’s essential and encyclopedic The Invention of Paris, published in 2002, Julian Barnes described the author as a “bookish psychogeographer, rescuing historian and committed Benjaminic flâneur; he is memory, conscience ...
This novel is a poised meditation on our bodies and the perils of becoming a parent
The man who invented the x-ray, Wilhelm Röntgen, happened upon his discovery by accident, devoting a few weeks to it before moving on. Nevertheless he revolutionised medicine, and changed for ever the way we relate to our bodies. No longer opaque, obscure things, they were now – at this very beginning, in 1895 – more knowable. But this did not mean that they were any less inscrutable.
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Two books on the creative lives and ‘heady intimacies’ of Frida Kahlo and the female artists embroiled in surrealism suggest the label was restrictive
To look at surrealist art is to see female bodies in pieces. Here a disembodied leg, there a mysterious eye. “Headless. And also footless. Often armless too; and always unarmed,” writes the scholar and translator Mary Ann Caws. “There they are, the surrealist women so shot and painted.” Surrealist artists, photographers and writers such as Hans Bellmer, Man Ray and André Breton famously turned women into their muses, and took them apart in life and on the page. The surrealists exalted women, without ever truly seeing them.
Whitney Chadwick, author of The Militant Muse, was one of the first feminist critics to call our attention to the valuable work created by the women at the margins of the group – the wives, friends ...
Full of appreciation for such essayists as William Gass, Elizabeth Hardwick and Georges Perec, Dillon has written a vital exploration of a genreIt is a critical commonplace to begin an essay about essays with etymology. Essay: noun, from the French essayer
, verb, to try. Next is the requisite hat-tip to Michel de Montaigne
, Renaissance philosopher and one-time mayor of Bordeaux, who is considered to have been the first great essayist; his Essais
, published in 1580, includes disquisitions on, among other things, idleness, liars, imagination, pedantry, the custom of wearing clothes, sleep, names, drunkenness and smells. “I know too well how that particular essay on essays gets written,” Brian Dillon
writes in his new book, Essayism
, refusing to rehearse these familiar ideas, even as he mentions them.
Over the course of this meditation on that most elegant and slippery of forms, he identifies some “combination of ...
Semiotics meets the whodunnit in a satiric romp through Parisian intellectual life from the author of HHhH‘
All this must be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel,” the literary critic and theorist wrote in his 1975 autobiography, Roland Barthes
. “Life is not a novel,” Laurent Binet counters in the opening line of his new novel, one that asks who might have killed Barthes, and why.
But Barthes wasn’t murdered, you might protest; he was knocked over by a laundry truck while crossing the Rue des Ecoles, and died a month later. Instead of a novel in the form of an autobiography, The 7th Function of Language
is a whodunnit without a crime, in which one of the characters investigating the death strongly (and rightly) begins to suspect he is a character in a novel.
The wartime PM joins other celebrities in the story of a French chateau that became a playground for the rich and famousThe Riviera Set
follows the lives, loves, and larks of the American actor Maxine Elliott
, who infiltrated the British upper classes and from there the creme de la Eurotrash. She built the Château de l’Horizon
on the French Riviera, where such people as Winston Churchill
, Noël Coward
and the former Edward VIII
hung out. Following Elliott’s death in 1940, the focus of Lovell’s story shifts to the next owner of the house, Aly Khan, the playboy son of the Aga Khan, whose womanising and partying led his father to disinherit him by leaving his title to Aly’s son Karim. (Khan did inherit his father’s wealth.)
The house itself, a pile of art deco sugar cubes that manages to be at once Romanesque and Moorish, was ...