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C O N T E N T S

No. 6157

April 2 2021

the-tls.co.uk

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3 LITERATURE

T H E T I M E S L I T E R A R Y S U P P L E M E N T

Craig Raine The comedy of Anna Karenina | Gigliola Sulis Married to Mussolini’s man Michael LaPointe Rachel Kushner goes biking | Jonathan Bak Boris in blunderland

Wonderful town Mary Norris on Craig Taylor’s New Yorkers and other tales of the city

Travel poster by Rod Ruth, 1960 © Buyenlarge/Getty Images

6 LETTERS TO THE

EDITOR

8 POLITICS

10 LETTERS

In this issue

Persuaded by the satirist P. J. O’Rourke that there was more to life than a London where the coffee and the beer were lukewarm (and the radiators freezing) and there was no ice (apart from the radia- tors), I made a Manhattan transfer many years ago. In the era of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, the Margaritas were crushed ice, tinted blue with Curaçao, and the living in Soho and the East Village was cheap, easy and exotic (there was the joint where they kept a python behind the bar).

Today the super-rich occupy my old haunts and the grime has gone from the downtown, making it a safer place but a duller one. Fran Lebowitz, the local satirist whose politics bear no resemblance to O’Rourke’s, complains that the difference between her old New York and the new is that in earlier days “you didn’t have to think about money every second”. Cultural life thrives on affordable housing – London, take note.

Still, it is good to hear that reports that the city has become a Covid ghost town are exaggerated. In her TLS cover review of Craig Taylor’s oral history, New Yorkers, Mary Norris writes that “the city is hopping, punching, reeling, dancing, thrumming, honking and thriving”. Many good things haven’t changed. The city is “tearfully beautiful” and the local economic philosophy, exemplified by the pizza parlour business, is as vigorous as ever: “get in, get out, fast on the go”. Please don’t gawk, though. Lebowitz, the star of Martin Scorsese’s Pretend It’s a City Netflix series, also reviewed by Norris, particularly dislikes rubberneckers: “Pretend it’s a city where there are other people not sightseeing”. One young man attracts her ire for “texting and eating pizza while riding a bicycle (and steering with his elbows)”. Shouldn’t they pack him off to the circus?

Craig Raine finds serious humour in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “Think of Anna, bleeding to death, after giving birth, suddenly noticing the wallpaper and its badly drawn violets”. According to Raine’s close reading in this week’s paper, Tolstoy’s genius is to make Anna’s suicide a chronicle of a death foretold, thereby avoiding melodrama. Every last detail, from his heroine’s facial tic of screwing up her eyes (suggesting she cannot see the way ahead) to her morphine addiction, prefigures her end.

Rachel Kushner barely survived her close encounter with death on a motorcycle blazing down the highway at 130mph. She tells of a life lived with attitude in her collection of essays, The Hard Crowd. No regrets. The bike, like her writing career, gave her the freedom to steer where she likes.

MARTIN IVENS

Editor

11 ESSAYS

12 SOCIAL STUDIES

13 FREELANCE

14 ARTS

16 FICTION

18 LITERATURE &

PHILOSOPHY

20 HISTORY

21 RELIGION

24 IN BRIEF

26 TECHNOLOGY

27 CROSSWORD 28 NB

CRAIG RAINE BORIS FISHMAN

Living Anna’s last hours – How Tolstoy prepares the way for his heroine’s suicide A Swim in a Pond in the Rain – (In which four Russians give a master class on reading, writing and life) George Saunders

JONATHAN BAK CHARLOTTE HENRY

Stevie Smith on stage, Said, Orientalism and facts, Sir Richard Burton, etc

Failures of State – The inside story of Britain’s battle with coronavirus Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott Identity, Ignorance, Innovation – Why the old politics is useless Matthew d’Ancona

CLAIRE HARMAN

MICHAEL LAPOINTE

MARY NORRIS

NICHOLAS MURRAY

A Friendship in Letters – Robert Louis Stevenson and J. M. Barrie Michael Shaw, Editor

The Hard Crowd – Essays 2000–2020 Rachel Kushner

New Yorkers – A city and its people in our time Craig Taylor. Pretend It’s a City (Netflix, seven episodes). The Barbizon – The New York hotel that set women free Paulina Bren

Can we be clear? – On plain speech and good writing

YOOJIN GRACE WUERTZ ERIC BULSON Minari (Available on demand on Amazon Prime video, Apple TV, et al) Art Young’s Inferno – Original Art edition Art Young

LAMORNA ASH LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN HARRY STRAWSON MOLLY GUINNESS

DAVID COWARD HENRI ASTIER MIRANDA FRANCE

A Lonely Man Chris Power Untraceable Sergei Lebedev; Translated by Antonina W. Bouis Come Join Our Disease Sam Byers Kitchenly 434 Alan Warner

Journey to Italy Marquis de Sade; Translated, introduced and annotated by James A. Steintrager In the Presence of Schopenhauer Michel Houellebecq; Translated by Andrew Brown The Soul of a Woman Isabel Allende

GIGLIOLA SULIS JANE CAPLAN

LISA SOWLE CAHILL THEO HOBSON BERNICE MARTIN

LEORA BATNITZKY

PAUL DUGUID

The Perfect Fascist – A story of love, power and morality in Mussolini’s Italy Victoria de Grazia Nazis and Nobles – The history of a misalliance Stephan Malinowski; Translated by Jonathan Andrews

The Godless Gospel – Was Jesus a great moral teacher? Julian Baggini Resources of Christianity François Jullien; Translated by Pedro Rodríguez Alive in God – A Christian imagination Timothy Radcliffe. A Secret History of Christianity – Jesus, the last Inkling, and the evolution of consciousness Mark Vernon The Cambridge Companion to Jewish Theology Steven Kepnes, editor

Error in Shakespeare Alice Leonard Learning Through Images in the Italian Renaissance – Illustrated manuscripts and education in quattrocento Florence Federico Botana Käsebier Takes Berlin Gabriele Tergit; Translated by Sophie Duvernoy MS-13 – The making of America’s most notorious gang Steven Dudley The Glamour Boys – The secret story of the rebels who fought for Britain to defeat Hitler Chris Bryant No Earthly Pole – The search for the truth about the Franklin expedition 1845 Ernest C. Coleman A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles Ned Palmer

If Then – How one data company invented the future Jill Lepore

M. C.

Eliot’s sins, Covidious verses, Jan Struther’s fairy tale

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2

The Times Literary Supplement (ISSN 0307661, USPS 021-626) is published 50 times a year, with double issues in the penultimate issues of August and December, by The Times Literary Supplement Limited, London, UK, and distributed by OCS America Inc, 34 W Forest Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631-4019. Periodical postage paid at Paramus NJ and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: please send address corrections to TLS, PO Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834 USA. The TLS is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation and abides by the standards of journalism set out in the Editors’ Code of Practice. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit www.ipso.co.uk. For permission to copy articles or headlines for internal information purposes contact Newspaper Licensing Agency at PO Box 101, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1WX, tel 01892 525274, e-mail copy@nla.co.uk. For all other reproduction and licensing inquiries contact Licensing Department, 1 London Bridge St, London, SE1 9GF, telephone 020 7711 7888, e-mail sales@newslicensing.co.uk

TLS

APRIL 2, 2021

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