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An UnAmerican in New York

Lewis Nkosi: The Harlem Renaissance, 24 August 2000

Winds Can Wake Up the Dead: An Eric Walrond Reader 
edited by Louis Parascandola.
Wayne State, 350 pp., $24.95, December 1998, 0 8143 2709 5
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... the Renaissance, is of course included, as is Zora Neale Hurston, rescued from later obscurity by Alice Walker and a generation of younger women novelists who now claim her as the ‘mother’ of black women writing, though she was more the pampered child of the Renaissance. Born in Eatonville, Florida, in 1891, Hurston arrived in New York City, to the ...

Women’s Fiction

Margaret Walters, 13 October 1988

The Beginning of Spring 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 187 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 00 223261 8
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A Wedding of Cousins 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 167 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 81502 0
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The Skeleton in the Cupboard 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 138 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 0 7156 2269 2
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... behind at the Alexandrovna station. We never know much about Nellie, always ‘a jumper up and walker about’, though there’s a wonderfully telling glimpse of the girl Frank met and married when he was back in England learning the trade: a 26-year-old schoolteacher desperate to escape a spinster’s existence. We understand Nellie a little better ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures, 18 June 2015

... included in the recent Tate Modern retrospective), Jeremy Deller’s 19th-century broadsides and Walker Evans’s Depression-era photographs. Alexander Kluge’s installation for three projectors addresses Marx – and Eisenstein – head on, in a series of interviews and short clips with titles like ‘Lament of the Unwanted Product’, ‘Machines ...


Wendy Steiner, 19 October 1995

Gertrude Stein in Words and Pictures 
by Renate Stendhal.
Thames and Hudson, 286 pp., £14.95, March 1995, 0 500 27832 6
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‘Favoured Strangers’: Gertrude Stein and Her Family 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 346 pp., $34.95, August 1995, 0 8135 2169 6
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... flesh’, wrote Mabel Dodge Luhan. ‘She gloried in hers’. In her thirties, Stein ‘married’ Alice Toklas, who was an avid and accomplished cook, but Stein’s love of food was just a part of her intense physicality. Throughout her life, she took prodigious walks, window-shopping her way across Paris for hours at a time, and in her sixties tramping as ...

Poor Rose

Christian Lorentzen: Against Alice Munro, 6 June 2013

Dear Life 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 319 pp., £18.99, November 2012, 978 0 7011 8784 2
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... There’s something confusing about the consensus around Alice Munro. It has to do with the way her critics begin by asserting her goodness, her greatness, her majorness or her bestness, and then quickly adopt a defensive tone, instructing us in ways of seeing as virtues the many things about her writing that might be considered shortcomings ...

Separating Gracie and Rosie

David Wootton: Two people, one body, 22 July 2004

One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal 
by Alice Domurat Dreger.
Harvard, 198 pp., £14.95, May 2004, 0 674 01294 1
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... in itself, because it would make possible autonomy, self-determination and privacy. Lord Justice Walker went so far as to argue that killing Rosie would be in her best interests, since separation would give her ‘the bodily integrity and human dignity’ which was her right. Lord Justice Brooke agreed that ‘the proposed operation would give these ...

A Man with My Trouble

Colm Tóibín: Henry James leaves home, 3 January 2008

The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume I 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 391 pp., £57, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2584 8
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The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume II 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 524 pp., £60, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2607 4
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... magnificently tanned & muscular – the men at least are a very effective lot.’ To his sister, Alice, on Pope Pius IX: ‘When you have seen that flaccid old woman waving his ridiculous fingers over the prostrate multitude & have duly felt the picturesqueness of the scene – & then turn away sickened by its absolute obscenity – you may climb the steps ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Bournemouth Set, 21 May 2020

... on 18 April 1885. His part in the town’s medical theatrics was to come via his sister, Alice. The youngest of five children and a sometime history teacher, Alice James at the age of 36 suffered from frayed nerves, was possessed of fierce resentments and longings, and was powerfully neurasthenic. ‘She likes to ...

At Dulwich

Alice Spawls: Vanessa Bell, 18 May 2017

... She was embarrassed later by her early taste, which ran also to Sickert and Whistler and Fred Walker and G.F. Watts, and later still grew unembarrassed by it again. She was 21 in 1900, and though there must have been quite a lot to show for it, her youthful work is little known (some of it was destroyed during the Blitz) and not in evidence here. The ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... and skull like a troubled Hamlet to Vivienne Westwood’s fairy godmother, both shot by Tim Walker. From this side of the gallery the rooms lead onto the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s as well as a small lightbox room with dayglo scenes by Nick Knight, but one really needs to go all the way in the opposite direction, through the 1980s and some unlikely ...


Elaine Showalter, 14 June 1990

Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography 
by Deirdre Bair.
Cape, 718 pp., £19.95, June 1990, 9780224020480
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Lettres à Sartre. Vol I: 1930-1939 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 400 pp., frs 120, February 1990, 2 07 071829 8
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Lettres à Sartre. Vol II: 1940-1963 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 443 pp., frs 120, February 1990, 2 07 071864 6
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Journal de Guerre, Septembre 1939-Janvier 1941 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 371 pp., February 1990, 2 07 071809 3
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In the Shadow of Sartre 
by Liliane Siegel, translated by Barbara Wright.
182 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 9780002153362
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... vivid and significant passages of the book, as Beauvoir, fortified by her customary shot of Johnny Walker, unflinchingly, if often irritably, responded to Bair’s questions about every aspect of her life from philosophy to menstruation and menopause. But when Bair complained about the lack of documentation, and questioned Beauvoir about the whereabouts of her ...

Who’s sorry now?

Andrew O’Hagan: Michael Finkel gets lucky, 2 June 2005

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa 
by Michael Finkel.
Chatto, 312 pp., £15.99, May 2005, 0 7011 7688 1
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Burning Down My Master’s House 
by Jayson Blair.
New Millennium, 288 pp., $24.95, March 2004, 9781932407266
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The Journalist and the Murderer 
by Janet Malcolm.
Granta, 163 pp., £8.99, January 2004, 1 86207 637 5
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... simply saying: ‘I was stupid. I got busted. It sucks.’ He blames cocaine, he blames Johnny Walker Black, he blames overwork, he blames manic depression, he blames his colleagues, he blames his many relatives in prison, he blames the paper for not taking enough interest in the Holocaust, he blames white America, he blames black America, he blames fast ...


Iain Sinclair: Thatcher in Gravesend, 9 May 2013

... Shirley Williams, say – funeral attendees were interrogated about the legacy. Rarely can such an Alice in Wonderland charivari of local stereotypes have been assembled, some of them (like Dave and Samantha Cameron) quite obviously having a good time, with smiles and quips and cute photo-op hand-holding. The front rows were a woodpeckerish blizzard of Judas ...


August Kleinzahler: My Last Big Road Trip, 2 December 2010

... like Toscanini staring down a dodgy woodwind section. Olivier Messaien was commissioned by Alice Tully to write a piece inspired by the canyons of Cedar Breaks, Zion and Bryce in southwestern Utah. The composer enjoyed a mild form of synesthesia, which allowed him to hear colours. The red and orange of the sandstone cliffs got him going, along with the ...

In what sense did she love him?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Constance Fenimore Woolson, 8 May 2014

The Complete Letters of Constance Fenimore Woolson 
edited by Sharon Dean.
Florida, 609 pp., £71.95, July 2012, 978 0 8130 3989 3
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... of North Carolina to the Florida coast at St Augustine. Throughout her life Woolson was a walker and a rower, and her method of exploring new terrain was to take off by herself, as she apparently did, like a pacific version of her great-uncle’s deerslayer, soon after arriving in Florida: I walk miles through the hummocks, where it looks as though ...

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