tue 12/12/2017

literature

Marcel Proust: Letters to the Lady Upstairs - a very slim volume

Marcel Proust was a prolific letter-writer. He wrote tens of thousands of them, and at speed, as can be seen from the two facsimiles which are included with the text of Letters to the Lady Upstairs (there are quite a few more in the original French...

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Claire Tomalin: A Life of My Own review - the biographer on herself

The title says it all, or at least quite a lot. Luminously intelligent, an exceptionally hard worker, bilingual in French, a gifted biographer, Claire Tomalin has been at the heart of the literati glitterati all her working life. Here she turns her...

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The 'self-experimenter': Howard Brenton on Strindberg in crisis

I wrote The Blinding Light to try to understand the mental and spiritual crisis that August Strindberg suffered in February 1896. Deeply disturbed, plagued by hallucinations, he holed up in various hotel rooms in Paris, most famously in the Hotel...

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John Man: Amazons review - the real warrior women of the ancient world

As Wonder Woman hits screens worldwide, the publication of a book that explores the myth and reality of the Amazon seems timely. The latest of John Man’s works of popular history is opportunistic enough to end with a fascinating account of the...

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Neruda, review - 'poetry and politics'

Chilean director Pablo Larrain has described Neruda as a “false biopic”, and it’s a film that surprises on many levels in its presentation of Pablo Neruda, the great poet who is his country’s best-known cultural figure. It captivates for the scope...

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To Walk Invisible, BBC One

Yorkshire-born screenwriter Sally Wainwright has carved a distinguished niche for herself as chronicler of that brooding, beautiful region’s social and familial dramas. After the romance of Last Tango in Halifax and the gritty panorama of Happy...

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Alan Bennett’s Diaries, BBC Two

Gather round the fire, friends: no Santa down the chimney this Christmas Eve, but the curiously comforting Alan Bennett, with his sardonic and occasionally optimistic diaries. The latest published instalment has the slightly wry title Keeping On...

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Russia and the Arts, National Portrait Gallery

A good half of the portraits in Russia and the Arts are of figures without whom any conception of 19th century European culture would be incomplete. A felicitous subtitle, “The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky”, provides a natural, even easy point of...

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War and Peace, BBC One

So, Andrew Davies has bitten off the big one. It may have come as a surprise to some that the master of adapting the British classics for television hadn’t read Tolstoy’s classic-to-end-all-classics until the BBC mooted the idea of a new screen...

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In the Heart of the Sea

A host of pictorially arresting, even painterly images can't make a satisfying whole out of In the Heart of the Sea, Ron Howard's film that doesn't dig very deep, its penetrating title notwitstanding. Howard has always been drawn to unusual realms,...

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DVD: Murder in the Cathedral

The real achievement of this remarkable DVD release from the BFI is the fact that it brings the name of George Hoellering back to our attention as a director. His 1951 adaption of TS Eliot’s verse play Murder in the Cathedral has been virtually...

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Return to Larkinland, BBC Four

Return to Larkinland was the second of AN Wilson’s intimate portraits of poets, following his similar excursion to “Betjemanland” last year. His very particular form of exploration of the biographical genre results in a selectively detailed portrait...

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