Life and Style

Creators claim that  “the name ‘Coinye’ is intended solely as parody, not an indication or implication of endorsement or involvement"

Letters: Powell position

I was delighted to read the extracts in The Independent Magazine from Anthony Powell's Journals ("At Lady Maggie's...", 21 January) and to marvel at the gentle mockery and delicate self-parody which was displayed. The balance was perfect. No satirist would report Thatcher's words to Tito as "I am politics" and avoid exaggerations such as "We are politics" or "Politics R us".

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Operation Shylock by Philip Roth, Vintage pounds 5.99

Roth, here acting the arch-self-dramatist, dispenses with the masks of Portnoy and Zuckerman and casts as his hero the famous novelist 'Philip Roth'. He goes further, providing Roth with an anti-self, a namesake / lookalike who has been appropriating Roth's world-wide prestige to promote the bizarre notion of Diasporism, an inverted Zionism aimed at resettling Israelis in Europe. When Roth goes to Israel to face down the imposter he plunges into a fully-fledged identity crisis, in which he partially changes places with the imposter. Awash with ironies, exuberant rhetoric and endless worrying at the question, 'I am a Jew, but what is a Jew?', this resembles the ultimate Philip Roth parody. Very funny, but can he be serious?

Major takes the fight to his Tory critics: PM attacks 'parody of debate' as right lines up behind Heseltine

John Major last night came out fighting in a bid to restore his battered political authority with an outspoken attack on his critics over Europe for 'grotesque misrepresentation' of the compromise over majority voting.

FILM / NEW RELEASES: Stealing from the rich: Adam Mars-Jones on Mel Brooks's Men in Tights, Robert Townsend's Meteor Man and the re-released Cinema Paradiso

Mel Brooks never seems to have got around to having an identity crisis, and the question should be: why not? Apparently he thinks that any genre of film will benefit from being chopped up and garnished with his unvarying vaudeville routines. When the object of his parody was, say, Frankenstein, then his laziness looked very much like respect. He seemed to love the look of what he was parodying, even when he was mocking its successes. But when it comes to Robin Hood: Men in Tights - which doesn't so much lampoon Prince of Thieves as try to ride on its jerkin-tails - what is it that he thinks he is adding when he takes off a film?

BOOK REVIEW / It's no joke being a literary parodist: 'Misreadings' - Umberto Eco trs William Weaver: Cape, 19.99 pounds

OF ALL the European intellectual stars to have once written a humorous column, Umberto Eco is surely the least surprising candidate. Indeed, for many readers, it's perhaps more surprising now to be reminded of his pre-Name of the Rose reputation as a literary theorist, Joycean scholar and semiotician who then, so surprisingly, turned bestseller. Admittedly, this column was written for an Italian literary monthly, and his subjects mostly fit the forum. But the short pieces collected in Misreadings are among Eco's earliest publications (dating from 1959) and evidence that he didn't suddenly lighten up in mid-life.

DIRECTOR'S CUT / Zero de Conduite: Lindsay Anderson on the pillow fight from Vigo's Zero de Conduite

THE MOST famous scene in Zero de Conduite is the one in slow motion in the boys' dormitory, where they've been fighting with pillows and the air is full of feathers. It's a sort of parody or evocation of a Catholic religious procession. In many ways Zero de Conduite is an indignant satirical film, inspired by Vigo's own schooldays, and at the same time it's an intensely poetic one. What's very sympathetic about Vigo is that he was by temperament an anarchist, as any good director should be. His free, lyric spirit runs through the film, so it also acts as a self-portrait like perhaps all the best movies. It's a coincidence that my own film If . . . was made at the time of student revolt in the late Sixties. People imagined it was an illustration of or a complement to that, but it's quite untrue. If . . . was inspired by the personalities of the people who made it. It's not political in that way, it's a film of feeling, and that's what it has in common with Zero de Conduite.

MUSIC: Nursery fantasies: Stephen Johnson on H K Gruber and Mahler at the South Bank

IF THERE is one overwhelmingly positive thing to come out of the South Bank's Alternative Vienna series so far, it is the realisation that H K 'Nali' Gruber, composer, 'chansonnier', bass-player and descendant of the Gruber who gave us Silent Night, is a very interesting figure. Indeed, in Saturday's London Sinfonietta programme the Cello Concerto revealed many more layers of meaning - and of pure musical beauty - than it had in its Proms performance last year. And in Tuesday's London Philharmonic concert it was the turn of Frankenstein]]: 'pan-demonium for chansonnier and orchestra' and Gruber's best-known work - or rather best-known title, since broadcasts and performances haven't exactly been frequent over here.

Letter: Prophets and parody

Sir: I wonder whether any of your correspondents who have been so quick to condemn Spitting Image actually watched the programme. The offending sketch was bemoaning the general lack of interest in the Bible. If that is blasphemy, we're all in trouble.
Life and Style
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

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If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

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Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

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Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

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How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

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Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

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The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

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More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

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