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Colm Tóibín: The revolutionary Edward Carpenter, 29 January 2009

Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Verso, 565 pp., £24.99, October 2008, 978 1 84467 295 0
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... value the lives of Oscar Wilde and Roger Casement, and differing from them in its calm, domestic bliss and lack of a tragic ending. Soon after meeting Merrill, Carpenter began a correspondence with Symonds, The question for both of them was how to explain their own homosexuality to the English public: how much to use ancient Greek homosexuality as the basis ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... been in love a good many times,’ he told his readers in 1938, ‘I have never experienced the bliss of requited love . . . I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me.’ The couple sat out the Second World War in America, where Maugham wrote The Razor’s Edge (1944) while Haxton carried on drinking despite contracting tuberculosis. He ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo, 17 August 2006

The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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... ago. There is a certain amount of unjustly neglected travel writing, such as the work of the late Alan Booth. But Japan has never attracted the attention of a Chatwin or a Naipaul, let alone fostered a Kipling, a Somerset Maugham, a Hemingway or a Paul Bowles. No one has had a greater yearning or been better qualified to fill this gap than Donald ...

The Pills in the Fridge

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Christodora’, 30 March 2017

Christodora 
by Tim Murphy.
Picador, 432 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 1 5098 1857 0
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... The counterweight to Virginia Woolf’s Clarissa Dalloway, for instance, with her intimations of bliss and connectedness, was the psychologically ruined war veteran Septimus Smith. In that novel the two didn’t meet, though Michael Cunningham, refracting the material in The Hours, had his modern-day Clarissa figure care for Richard, his version of ...

Lithe Pale Girls

Robert Crawford: Richard Aldington, 22 January 2015

Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier and Lover 1911-29 
by Vivien Whelpton.
Lutterworth, 414 pp., £30, January 2015, 978 0 7188 9318 7
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... thing of beauty is a joy for ever’) leads on to a description of the ‘breathless honey-feel of bliss’. After dropping out from University College London, Aldington became the lover of Brigit Patmore, a strikingly beautiful woman ten years his senior who was married to a philandering insurance man. She knew many writers in London, including the recently ...

On Some Days of the Week

Colm Tóibín: Mrs Oscar Wilde, 10 May 2012

Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde 
by Franny Moyle.
John Murray, 374 pp., £9.99, February 2012, 978 1 84854 164 1
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The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition 
by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel.
Harvard, 295 pp., £25.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05792 0
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... must have interested Wilde. He could have fun with Dorian. For example, when he blackmails Alan Campbell at the end of the book, it’s clear that he is threatening to expose him as a homosexual. Wilde could also, for the most part, leave women out of his book, or treat them as less than human. The crucial difference between Wilde’s book and ...

Do I like it?

Terry Castle: Outsider Art, 28 July 2011

... freakier, possibly, were the pleasures to be found in Bosch’s world – the surreal salamander-bliss depicted in the eponymous Garden and beyond. Strangest of all: the fact that outlandish things were happening – all over the painting – but that nobody, even in hell, looked to be particularly tormented. Indeed, some of the little naked human figures ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson, 23 October 2014

Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... and the formal, distant way they are named that this won’t be a story of domestic harmony and bliss. The next image adds to the sense of dislocation: we are told that before the narrator’s grandfather Edmund Foster ‘put us down in this unlikely place’, he grew up ‘in the Middle West, in a house dug out of the ground, with windows just at earth ...

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