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Even if I married a whole harem of women I’d still act like a bachelor

Elaine Showalter: Isaac Bashevis Singer, 17 September 1998

Shadows on the Hudson 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Joseph Sherman.
Hamish Hamilton, 560 pp., £16.99, June 1998, 0 241 13940 6
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Isaac Bashevis Singer: A Life 
by Janice Hadda.
Oxford, 254 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 19 508420 9
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... The posthumous English publication of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s mammoth novel Shadows on the Hudson has created such a tumel. Critics have been arguing about the quality of the novel, originally serialised in 1957-58 in the New York Yiddish newspaper the Forward; and about the reasons Singer did not have it translated during his lifetime. It has been compared to the work of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, but also condemned as a melodramatic mishmash ...

Vibrating to the Chord of Queer

Elaine Showalter: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, 6 March 2003

Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity 
by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.
Duke, 216 pp., £14.95, March 2003, 0 8223 3015 6
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Regarding Sedgwick: Essays on Queer Culture and Critical Theory 
edited by Stephen Barber and David Clark.
Routledge, 285 pp., £55, September 2002, 0 415 92818 4
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... In the introduction to her new book, Touching Feeling, the queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick describes its strange and haunting black and white cover photograph as ‘the catalyst that impelled me to assemble the book in its present form’. It depicts a woman clumsily embracing an object that resembles an enormous wasps’ nest made of sticks and twine ...

I wish she’d been a dog

Elaine Showalter, 7 February 1991

Jean Stafford: The Savage Heart 
by Charlotte Margolis Goodman.
Texas, 394 pp., $24.95, May 1990, 0 292 74022 0
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... On 13 December 1938, the young writer Jean Stafford, visiting Boston from her hometown, Boulder, Colorado, agreed to go for a ride in his father’s Packard with her 21-year-old suitor Robert Lowell. They had met the year before at a Colorado Writers’ Conference, and Lowell had been courting her intensely through the mails. When she refused to marry him, however, Lowell went into a rage and crashed the car into an embankment ...

Slick Chick

Elaine Showalter, 11 July 1991

The Haunting of Sylvia Plath 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Virago, 288 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 1 85381 307 9
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Passions of the Mind 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 340 pp., £17, August 1991, 0 7011 3260 4
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... We all know the story. A brilliant, neurotic young American woman poet, studying on a fellowship at Cambridge, meets and marries the ‘black marauder’ who is the male poet-muse of her fantasies. Doubled and twinned – ‘one skin between us’, as she says; ‘two feet of one body’, as he says – they launch on the hard labour of poetic careers, supporting themselves on writing prizes and intermittent teaching jobs ...

Fade to Greige

Elaine Showalter: Giorgio Armani, 4 January 2001

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion 
by Holly Brubach.
Phaidon, 232 pp., £19.95, October 1999, 9780714838878
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Fashion Today 
by Colin McDowell.
Phaidon, 511 pp., £39.95, September 2000, 0 7148 3897 7
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Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Society in Clothing 
by Diana Crane.
Chicago, 294 pp., £19, August 2000, 0 226 11798 7
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Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries 
by Avril Hart and Susan North.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 223 pp., £19.95, October 2000, 1 85177 258 8
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Don We Now Our Gay Appalrel: Gay Men’s Dress in the 20th Century 
by Shuan Cole.
Berg, 224 pp., £42.99, September 2000, 1 85973 415 4
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The Gallery of Fashion 
by Aileen Ribeiro.
Princeton, 256 pp., £60, November 2000, 0 691 05092 9
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Giorgio Armani 
by Germano Celant and Harold Koda.
Abrams, 392 pp., £40, October 2000, 0 8109 6927 0
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... One of the​ biggest draws in New York this season is the Armani retrospective at the Guggenheim. Designed by the Post-Modern artist Robert Wilson, who has draped the Frank Lloyd Wright spiral ramps with white gauze, bathed the museum in patchouli and musk, and created a Japanese soundtrack to accompany the show, the exhibition is a perfect example of the blend of fashion, art, commerce and academic analysis that marks the current cultural scene ...

Every single one matters

Elaine Showalter and English Showalter: The first black female novelist?, 18 August 2005

In Search of Hannah Crafts: Critical Essays on ‘The Bondwoman’s Narrative’ 
edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Hollis Robbins.
Basic Books, 458 pp., £17.50, January 2005, 0 465 02708 3
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... On 11 November 2001, the New York Times announced a major literary discovery. Henry Louis Gates, chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Harvard, had bought at auction the unpublished manuscript of the ‘earliest known novel by a female African-American slave and probably the earliest known novel by a black woman anywhere’. According to the article, the novel, signed by Hannah Crafts and called ‘The Bondwoman’s Narrative’, was the story of a woman’s life as a house slave on the North Carolina plantation of John Hill Wheeler, her escape to New Jersey in 1857, and her composition of an autobiographical fiction incorporating ‘elements of the many sentimental sagas she had evidently borrowed from Mr Wheeler’s shelf ...

Separate Development

Patricia Craig, 10 December 1987

The Female Form 
by Rosalind Miles.
Routledge, 227 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 7102 1008 6
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Feminism and Poetry 
by Jan Montefiore.
Pandora, 210 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 86358 162 5
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Nostalgia and Sexual Difference 
by Janice Doane and Devon Hodges.
Methuen, 169 pp., £20, June 1987, 9780416015317
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Reading Woman 
by Mary Jacobus.
Methuen, 316 pp., £8.95, November 1987, 0 416 92460 3
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The New Feminist Criticism 
edited by Elaine Showalter.
Virago, 403 pp., £11.95, March 1986, 0 86068 722 8
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Reviewing the Reviews 
Journeyman, 104 pp., £4.50, June 1987, 1 85172 007 3Show More
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... axioms. They were followed by two key books from America, Ellen Moers’s Literary Women and Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own, both of which undertook a valuable adjustment of emphasis when it came to the discussion of works by women writers. One of the most stimulating kinds of literary speculation involves the reading of past works ...

Mother-Haters and Other Rebels

Barbara Taylor: Heroine Chic, 3 January 2002

Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage 
by Elaine Showalter.
Picador, 384 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 330 34669 5
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... feminist heroine sans pareil, didn’t approve of heroines. Great Women – or ‘icons’, as Elaine Showalter prefers to call the three centuries’ worth of feminist ‘rule-breakers and path-blazers’ celebrated in her new book – get short shrift in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: I shall not lay any stress on the example of a few women ...

Seven Veils and Umpteen Versions

Maria Tippett, 30 January 1992

Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle 
by Elaine Showalter.
Bloomsbury, 242 pp., £15.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0827 5
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Sister’s Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women’s Writing 
by Elaine Showalter.
Oxford, 193 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 812383 3
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... of the same name, the discordant high-pitched tones of Strauss’s Salome resonate throughout Elaine Showaltcr’s Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle. The discordant notes are apt because all three works point to a breaking-up, to a fragmentation and dislocation of cultural traditions and values during the last part of the 19th and ...

Dazeland

Andrew Scull, 29 October 1987

The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830-1980 
by Elaine Showalter.
Virago, 309 pp., £6.95, May 1987, 0 86068 869 0
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... the “third world” of the mental patients themselves’. For this reason, among many others, Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady is to be welcomed, for its primary focus is upon this neglected group – for the most part, on female patients. Her account makes it plain that in the psychiatric domain, as in the conventionally-defined Third ...

Learning to speak

Gay Clifford, 21 February 1980

Gya/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism 
by Mary Daly.
Women’s Press, 485 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7043 2829 1
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The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 719 pp., £15.75, October 1980, 0 300 02286 7
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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Margaret Dickie Uroff.
Illinois, 235 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 252 00734 4
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Women Writing and Writing about Women 
edited by Mary Jacobus.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 85664 745 4
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... so vividly by these writers. Much of the material will be familiar to readers of Ellen Moers and Elaine Showalter (and the writing is sometimes repetitious), yet it will be useful in showing inexperienced or blinkered readers the existence and nature of a female literary tradition. Sylvia Plath’s best late poetry often has the voice of the rebellious ...

Sergeant Jones’s Sleeping-Bag

Michael Ignatieff, 17 July 1997

Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture 
by Elaine Showalter.
Picador, 244 pp., £16.99, June 1997, 0 330 34670 9
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... this would be comic if it weren’t so alarming. What they are resisting, with such vehemence, is Showalter’s claim that they are just depressed. By calling their condition a syndrome, sufferers want to give it the dignity of a strictly medical and physical origin. They also want to escape the responsibility for their state which would be unavoidable if it ...

In the Company of Confreres

Terry Eagleton: ‘Modern British Fiction’, 12 December 2002

On Modern British Fiction 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 328 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 0 19 924932 6
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... Old Town. Social class, inevitably, raises its head from time to time throughout these essays. Elaine Showalter sees the anti-heroes of Ladlit as obsessed with class distinctions, as well as being ‘funny, bright . . . charming and excruciatingly honest’. They are not gentlemen, but neither are they yobs. The volume reprints a ...

All in the Family

Sylvia Lawson, 3 December 1992

Letters to Sartre 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Quintin Hoare.
Radius, 531 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 09 174774 0
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Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvior, 1926-1939 
edited by Simone de Beauvior, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee.
Hamish Hamilton, 448 pp., £20, November 1992, 9780241133361
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... often, sad to relate, it’s hard to tell the difference. Surveying the field in these pages. Elaine Showalter (14 June 1990) argued that no biographical revelations could undermine Beauvoir’s standing as a feminist: her ‘feminist credentials come from her writing, and from her years of staunch, courageous and generous support of ... the cause of ...

Treated with Ping-Pong

Susan Eilenberg: The History of Mental Medicine, 23 July 2009

Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present 
by Lisa Appignanesi.
Virago, 592 pp., £12.99, January 2009, 978 1 84408 234 6
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... concerns converge on the linked topics of sexuality, hysteria, imitation and iatrogeny. Following Elaine Showalter, Roy Porter and other scholars, Appignanesi presents hysteria as the pathology that, more startlingly than any other, reveals the paradoxes of imitation and selfhood, expression and collusion and control, as they play out between (usually ...

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