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Can-do Rhodie

Polly Hope: African childhoods

8 August 2002
Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Doubleday, 254 pp., £12.99, March 2002, 0 385 60344 4
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Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood 
by Alexandra Fuller.
Picador, 310 pp., £15.99, February 2002, 0 330 49023 0
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The Healing Land: A Kalahari Journey 
by Rupert Isaacson.
Fourth Estate, 272 pp., £7.99, February 2002, 9781857028973
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... erupted among your parents and their friends. Almost every week the Sunday papers would report another classic white African murder: drunken father kills wife, children, self. Carolyn Slaughter and AlexandraFuller’s memoirs of ‘an African childhood’ try, indirectly, to explain how generations of white people who ‘knew what was best for their Africans’ got it so wrong. Before the Knife and Don ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars

14 December 2000
Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... an intelligent outsider challenging the norms of a somewhat decadent and in-grown professional clique. She is also a marvellous, canny writer. But in its new and expanded version (she has added a fuller account of Cather’s critical reception in the 1920s and 1930s and a concluding reflection on her ‘tragic sense of life’) her essay must also disquiet even the most jaded anti-academic. Were all ...

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