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The Spree

Frank Kermode

22 February 1996
The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... Ann Douglas’s The Feminisation of American Culture, first published in 1977, now appears in Britain at the same moment as its long-delayed successor, Terrible Honesty. Looking back at the earlier book, Douglas remarks that her ‘excavation and re-evaluation of American feminine 19th-century literature’ has been continued by many other historians, mostly women, who have rebelled against what she calls, in tones more civil than those of some of her successors, a literary canon consisting ‘of almost exclusively male-authored, conspicuously shaped and achieved 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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... Rebecca West and the pioneers of British ‘New Feminism’, Emma Goldman, Mary McCarthy and Hannah Arendt (the last two, both openly hostile to feminism, qualify on the grounds that as ‘trouble-makers and rule-breakers’ they lived the feminism they repudiated). As the narrative approaches the present, a bevy of feminist writers who came of age in the ...

The Basic Couple

Benjamin Kunkel: Norman Rush

23 October 2013
Subtle Bodies 
by Norman Rush.
Granta, 234 pp., £14.99, October 2013, 978 1 84708 780 5
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... of love. Here is the female narrator of Mating, a graduate student in anthropology called Karen Ann (as we learn when we glimpse her as a married woman in Mortals), describing her future husband, Nelson Denoon, who has sunk into a mood of diffuse apology: Then he confessed for the second time that he regretted giving me the impression when we were ...

Adele goes West

Mark Lambert

17 September 1987
Anywhere but here 
by Mona Simpson.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7475 0017 7
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Herself in Love 
by Marianne Wiggins.
Collins, 184 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 00 223147 6
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Journey of the Wolf 
by Douglas Day.
Bodley Head, 235 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 370 31064 0
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Spanking the maid 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 102 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 434 14289 1
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A Night at the Movies, or, You must remember this 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 187 pp., £12.95, August 1987, 0 434 14390 1
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... Literature, and this is exhilarating. The child and troublesome parent of Anywhere but here, Ann and her mother Adele, combine their struggle between generations with that classic American experience of migration westward to the better land: in this case, a move from the Midwest to California, where Adele hopes to turn ...

Shaviana

Brigid Brophy

2 December 1982
Bernard Shaw: The Darker Side 
by Arnold Silver.
Stanford, 353 pp., $25, January 1982, 0 8047 1091 0
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Bernard Shaw and Alfred DouglasA Correspondence 
edited by Mary Hyde.
Murray, 237 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7195 3947 1
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... mind, but it can’t and shouldn’t tell the conscious mind what to do about it then. In a cannibal society it may be in a position to explain to the eccentric who declines to kill and cook his fellows that his squeamishness is a reaction formation against his fiercer than average impulses, but it cannot in itself ...
1 December 1983
The Collected Letters of John Millington Synge. Vol. I: 1871-1907 
edited by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 385 pp., £30, August 1983, 0 19 812678 6
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... were more in his line than the activities of the Land League. Like Yeats, Lady Gregory and Douglas Hyde, he brooded over the ‘spirit of the nation’ and thought it would be a fine thing to express it in a theatre, but he didn’t want to see it manifested in a rough form. Maud Gonne was too rough. Yeats had to hover about her interests, because he ...
14 November 1996
Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... successful Labour leader, winning four elections, but the recent spate of admiring biographies cannot rescue him from ignominy. The whole point of Wilsonism, after all, was to box and fox through the burning minute. It is hardly surprising that the long-term verdict on him should be bad: he despised the very notion of the ‘long term’. Nobody tries to ...

Persons outside the Law

Catherine Hall: The Atlantic Family

19 July 2018
Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 
by Daniel Livesay.
North Carolina, 448 pp., £45, January 2018, 978 1 4696 3443 2
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... since he left his children on the island, manumitting before he went ‘my negro woman slave … Fanny, together with her two mulatto children Ann and Joseph’. He had already married the daughter of a prosperous New England planter. On returning to England in 1791 an inheritance from an uncle allowed him to invest in ...
24 January 1985
The Official Foodie Handbook 
by Ann Barr and Paul Levy.
Ebury, 144 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 85223 348 5
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine 
by Elizabeth David.
Hale, 318 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7090 2047 3
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Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook 
by Alice Waters, foreword by Jane Grigson .
Chatto, 340 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2820 8
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... it might indeed make good 20th-century sense to worship food, but punters of ‘foodism’ (as Ann Barr and Paul Levy jokily dub this phenomenon) are evidently not about to drop to their knees because they are starving.‘Foodies’, according to Barr and Levy, are ‘children of the consumer boom’ who consider ‘food to be an art, on a level with ...

Picassomania

Mary Ann Caws: Roland Penrose’s notebooks

19 October 2006
Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose 
by Elizabeth Cowling.
Thames and Hudson, 408 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 500 51293 0
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... Picasso liked the mystery, was eager for no one to be sure what he would do next. Told that Joanna Drew, a curator at the Hayward Gallery, had found cocoons huddled in the slits of his Man with a Sheep, Picasso said that at Vauvenargues one day he had felt a wasps’ nest between the sheep’s legs; nothing more natural: animals lurking in the ...

A Life of Henry Reed

Jon Stallworthy

12 September 1991
... son Henry seem, paradoxically, to have been inherited from a mother who was illiterate. Born Mary Ann Ball, the eldest child of a large family that had migrated from Tipton to Birmingham, she could not be spared from her labours at home during what should have been her schooldays, and when, in her late middle age, her granddaughter tried, unsuccessfully, to ...
21 August 1997
God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... and Janice Galloway’s Foreign Parts. It bridges writing as different as the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are wary of each other. Jamie recently refused to read with Irvine Welsh because of what she saw as the misogyny of one of his short ...

Tired of Giving in

Eric Foner: Rosa Parks

10 May 2001
Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Life of Rosa Parks 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.99, January 2001, 0 297 60708 1
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... seat with space for visitors to have their pictures taken sitting alongside her bronze replica. Douglas Brinkley’s Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory is the first serious biography of Parks. It is also part of a new series of brief lives of famous individuals written by authors not previously known for expertise on the subjects of their books. Brevity and the ...

A Flat in Neuilly

Douglas Johnson

3 February 1983
Ideology and Experience: Anti-Semitism in France at the time of the Dreyfus Affair 
by Stephen Wilson.
Associated University Presses, 812 pp., £30, August 1982, 0 8386 3037 5
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Cinq Années de ma Vie 
by Alfred Dreyfus.
Maspéro, 263 pp., frs 15
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La Républic et les Juifs après Copernic 
by Schmuel Trigano.
Les Presses d’Aujourd’hui, 272 pp., frs 75, April 1982, 2 901386 03 2
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... believe that it is, in fact, a variant painted by Poussin himself (see the article on it by Ann Tzeutschler Lurie in the Burlington Magazine for November 1982). As to the comment on Blunt, it has of course considerable irony. Perhaps I should have been more insistent about seeing the manuscript. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that the Dreyfus ...

A Vast Masquerade

Deborah Cohen: Dr James Barry

2 March 2017
Dr James Barry: A Woman ahead of Her Time 
by Michael du Preez and Jeremy Dronfield.
Oneworld, 479 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 78074 831 3
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... Stoker deemed the most implausible impostors of all: women who masqueraded as military men. The tyrannical army surgeon Dr James Barry – prone to picking quarrels and partial to red-heeled, thigh-high boots paired with an outsized dress sword – doesn’t figure in Stoker’s parade. It’s a strange omission – Barry’s story was well known to Edwardians ...

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