My favourite authors are those who wrote after the turn of the nineteenth century, but before the death of Camus, which still leaves quite a wide range. This happens to coincide with the so-called période grammaticale, a period during which form was deemed to matter more than substance, not because substance did not matter, but because form was the surest way of gauging the true value of the substance behind it—a view with which I heartily agree.

Capote and the death penalty: turning the clock back to 1967

A review of the film about Truman, Capote, in which one deliberately veers somewhat off-topic, focusing more on the curious way in which he approached the death penalty on the occasion of his trip to Kansas.

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Is Nancy Mitford no longer understood?

It is pretty standard, nowadays, to denigrate Nancy Mitford as frivolous and out of touch, but I’ve always had a sneaking liking for someone who was easily the loveliest of the Mitford sisters

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Jonathan Littell is no match for Julien Green

A review of American-born Jonathan Littel's rather heavy-handed novel, *Les Bienveillantes*. One inevitably comes to the conclusion that he is not is the same league as the other, more famous American writer who wrote in French, Julien Green.

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Why does literature seek to give meaning to the yearning for death?

French letters since the eighteenth century are strongly coloured by death and, more particularly, by death wishes. In this post I look at a subject that most will regard as unnecessarily stern in an age where happiness has been erected into a moral imperative.

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