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Lord Fitzcricket

P.N. Furbank: The composer’s life, 21 May 1998

Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric 
by Mark Amory.
Chatto, 274 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 234 2
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... Habsburg cast of features, and usually somewhat withdrawn and taciturn, though fond of pranks. Virginia Woolf thought him ‘a determined little man, whose rank, I fancy, gives him some consistency, not otherwise his’. Siegfried Sassoon (a feeble judge of character) found him at first ‘unreal, appallingly distant and exclusively ...

Shopping for Soap, Fudge and Biscuit Tins

John Pemble: Literary Tourists, 7 June 2007

The Literary Tourist 
by Nicola J. Watson.
Palgrave, 244 pp., £45, October 2006, 1 4039 9992 9
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... Not so the visitors who paid to see them. First Coleridge and the Romantics, then Henry James and Virginia Woolf, then the New Critics of the 1930s, followed by Barthes, Derrida and the deconstructionists, have scolded literary tourists. ‘The author’s dead!’ they’ve told these vagrant supplicants again and again. ‘So go home, sit still and read ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries, 28 July 2011

... young man reacts more dramatically, by hurling half the books to the floor. In Me, I’m Afraid of Virginia Woolf someone else gives vent to their frustration with literature by drawing breasts on a photograph of Virginia Woolf and kitting out E.M. Forster with a big cigar. Orton himself notoriously defaced library ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... of writers can often seem so unbearably silly in the light of our expectations. We think Virginia Woolf should sound like her style, but she doesn’t: in her British Library recording (the only one in existence), she sounds like a person imprisoned by her sensibility and her class as opposed to someone who floats somewhere above it. ...

Dipper

Jason Harding: George Moore, 21 September 2000

George Moore, 1852-1933 
by Adrian Frazier.
Yale, 604 pp., £29.95, May 2000, 0 300 08245 2
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... Moore’s implication that class divisions can outweigh the shared bonds of motherhood that led Virginia Woolf to describe Esther Waters as ‘this novel without a heroine’, as if she doubted that servants were a proper subject for serious literary representation. Moore was certainly one of the first to bring the approach and methods of French ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder, 18 November 1993

The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... French and Russian novelists revered by an earlier generation. Leavis strenuously singled out what Virginia Woolf had called ‘the few English novels written for grown-up people’. These novels originally consisted of Middlemarch (Virginia Woolf’s nomination), the works of Jane Austen, Henry James, Joseph ...

Leave off saying I want you to be savages

Sandra Gilbert: D.H. Lawrence, 19 March 1998

D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-30 
by David Ellis.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £25, January 1998, 0 521 25421 3
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... Lovers, the book strikes many young readers as a chestnut, maybe even an obstacle on the road to Virginia Woolf, Thomas Pynchon and Alice Walker, while the later novels just look ‘weird’. On the one hand, the author of Women in Love is too damn serious, too damn end-of-the-world to be any fun in a world of MTV; on the other hand, the creator of The ...

Harnessed to a Shark

Alison Light: Who was Virginia Woolf afraid of?, 21 March 2002

Three Guineas 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Naomi Black.
Blackwell, 253 pp., £60, October 2001, 0 631 17724 8
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... of esteem. Being afraid, on the other hand, has nothing going for it. I begin in this way because Virginia Woolf calls Three Guineas, her anti-war book, an ‘enquiry into the nature of fear’. Three Guineas finds a kinship among fear’s victims, a move which many readers thought wrong-headed or downright foolish when the book was published in ...

Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... Only once, during the dark years of the Great War, did he turn the scrutiny of his art, like Virginia Woolf, upon himself. In January 1917 he started a detailed journal of his life at Ayot St Lawrence with his wife Charlotte. On 9 January he had to record a difference between them. He tried to amuse Charlotte with news of a marital scandal in ...

Mrs Bowdenhood

C.K. Stead, 26 November 1987

Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 292 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 670 81392 3
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... and influence upon the lives and work of a number of major figures, most notably D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. In her foreword, Tomalin (who refers to Mansfield throughout as Katherine) points out that she is ‘of the same sex as my subject. It may be nonsense to believe that this gives me any advantage over a male biographer. Yet I can’t help ...

C (for Crisis)

Eric Hobsbawm: The 1930s, 6 August 2009

The Morbid Age: Britain between the Wars 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 522 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9563 3
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... for instance – were obviously not felt or acted on in the same way by, say, Adolf Hitler and Virginia Woolf. Emotions in history are neither chronologically stable nor socially homogeneous, even in the moments when they are universally felt, as in London under the German air-raids, and their intellectual representations even less so. How can they be ...

A Bit of a Lush

Christopher Tayler: William Boyd, 23 May 2002

Any Human Heart 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 504 pp., £17.99, April 2002, 9780241141779
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... and Henry Green are his contemporaries at Oxford; he takes tea with Ottoline Morrell and twits Virginia Woolf. Cyril Connolly and Evelyn Waugh are London acquaintances. Picasso sketches his portrait, Hemingway is a fellow war correspondent, and Paris brings a meeting with James Joyce. His wartime boss at Naval Intelligence is, of course, Ian ...

At the Hayward

Marina Warner: Tracey Emin, 25 August 2011

... can be looked at in another way, placed in a literary lineage running back to Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf and Anaïs Nin. In Self-Impression, his remarkable study of Victorian and Edwardian autobiography, Max Saunders discusses the vogue for fake memoirs, a genre he calls ‘autobiografiction’, that is books in which the ‘I’ is an adopted ...

Too late to die early

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Virginia Woolf and Harriet Martineaun in the sick room, 5 February 2004

Life in the Sick-Room 
by Harriet Martineau, edited by Maria Frawley.
Broadview, 260 pp., £8.99, March 2003, 1 55111 265 5
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On Being Ill 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Hermione Lee.
Paris Press, 28 pp., £15, October 2002, 1 930464 06 1
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... of mind over body’ was clearly prepared for the experiment. The bravura sentence that opens Virginia Woolf’s haunting essay, On Being Ill, contends that sickness is too rarely a subject of literature: Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the ...

Rochet and Chimère

V.S. Pritchett, 6 March 1980

... of the moralist. The sybarite – for there was a distinct touch of that in his nature, and Virginia Woolf twitted him for dining with duchesses – might think our lives peculiar, but he could not resist the variety of human nature. Raymond was undoubtedly at his best when writing for the New Statesman, because he liked swimming against the ...

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