lady painting

 

Jul 2003 Journal

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RG's Interface

Autobiography Frederic Raphael, who has aptly been described as 'an outsider on the inside' - he endured antisemitism as a pupil at Charterhouse public school - has published an autobiography entitled A Spoilt Boy. He achieved prominence among TV viewers with his 1970s Cambridge-based series The Glittering Prizes, which was unique in being both highly sophisticated and having a Jewish hero. Raphael for long felt equally drawn to academic and literary pursuits, but ultimately the latter won out.

Family biography The Sassoons, by Peter Stansky (Yale), describes the Sephardi counterpart to the Rothschilds. Unlike the latter, though, the Sassoons intermarried. Sybil, Marquise Cholmondley discovered a Holbein on her backstairs and refurbished Houghton Hall, Norfolk with the proceeds. Her bachelor brother Philip, owner of Trent Park and a pre-war junior minister, attacked the Nazis - in Chips Channon's weasel words - 'with the violence born of personal prejudice'.

Dementia = antisemitism When the story of the Nobel prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash was turned into the film A Beautiful Mind, it triggered protests because Nash had made antisemitic statements - but his defenders argued he had done so while the balance of his mind was disturbed. Interestingly, the Massachusetts institution to which Nash was confined had previously accommodated the eminent poet Robert Lowell, who was prone to make rambling speeches in praise of Hitler.

Multi-talented Magyars Hungarian Jewry, which once gave the world Ferenz Molnar and half of Hollywood's script-writers, spawns great literary talents even now, in its cruelly diminished state. Already in the early 1980s, when the Iron Curtain was still firmly in place, the novelist Gyorgy Konrad, recipient of the Charlemagne Prize, pioneered the concept of Mitteleuropa. Nobel prize-winning author Imre Kertesz, who has been resident in Berlin for a considerable time, has upbraided his German hosts for their rampant anti-Americanism and reminded them of John Kennedy's historic dictum Ich bin ein Berliner!

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