Category Archives: Writing

The End of the Gift of Language?

In November 2010 one of this country’s subtlest interpreters of French thought gave a lecture in the capital on Aristotle and his critics. Geoffrey Bennington’s rare London appearance was billed ‘Political Animals…’ but his actual topic was The Death of … Continue reading

Posted in American literature, Britain Today, French intellectuals, novels, postmodernism, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The genius of The Human Stain

Would they have given Philip Roth a Pulitzer prize for such an indictment of the state of America as his great novel, The Human Stain, turned out to be? It wasn’t published until 2000 but maybe it was in gestation … Continue reading

Posted in American literature, New York Intellectuals, novels, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

John Le Carré’s Legacy: Passion in Germany and the Maze of Betrayal

In possibly his last novel, A Legacy of Spies (2017) John le Carré, aged 86, has done what writers and artists long to do, not for their audiences but for the sake of their own soul. He’s found the perfect … Continue reading

Posted in Britain Today, Cold War, english literature, novels, Writing | Tagged , , , ,

The Sculptor, the Spy and a Moment of Political Sincerity

The story of how the highly distinguished art historian and former Cambridge Apostle Anthony Blunt was unmasked in 1979 as having been a spy for Soviet Russia, has a peculiar appeal for my generation and roundabout. I imagine John le … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Anyone's Game - my latest novel, Art History, Britain Today, Cold War, Russian Revolution 1917, Writing | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Seventh Function of Language

Laurent Binet, author of the remarkable novel (in French), The Seventh Function of Language, seems succinctly to describe his technique on p.333 of the English edition: ‘one fanatics gently’. But is that English? Is the original, ‘on forcène doucement’, French? … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, French intellectuals, French literature, Literature in Translation, novels, Philosophy and Philosophers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Antonio Tabucchi’s novel of pessmism and measured hope set in Fascist Portugal

Pereira Maintains, by the late Italian writer Alexander Trocchi, is a minature masterpiece. It is as satisfying in its form as it is morally, and contemporary literature doesn’t offer so many chances to say this. A smash success in Italy … Continue reading

Posted in Anyone's Game - my latest novel, Literature in Translation, novels, Who are you?, Writing | Tagged , , , ,

Victor Klemperer, the German-Jewish academic who chronicled everyday life in Hitler’s Germany

Victor Klemperer was a German-Jewish academic whose survival of the Hitler years made possible his unique and irreplaceable testimony. Through 1931-1945 he kept detailed diaries of daily life in Dresden. There were sketches of a few friends who became Nazi … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Europe, German Literature, Philosophy and Philosophers, Things German, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,