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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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... AnnDouglas’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 ...

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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... where, dressed in a ‘Cossack minidress’, she tried to bamboozle her way into Partisan Review by imitating Susan Sontag); and, eventually, in the feminist academy (where her Princeton colleague AnnDouglas – ‘a rebel, a genius, a flash of light’ in a ‘green Diane Von Furstenberg wrap-dress’ – became an idol). Heroine-worship, in other words, is a real Showalter thing – and in this ...

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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... men and women who don’t read self-help books – just the kind who might want or need grown-up novels 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 ...

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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... of this book, a wish to matter, to take an interesting part in the ongoing conversation of American 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 ...

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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... Failing to explore the paradox of a childless Shaw resting the salvation of society on eugenics, he blindfolds his psychological faculty and misses the simple reversal of genders in the play. Ann Whitefield, driven to unscrupulous lengths by the Life Force in order to secure the best father for her future children, is Shaw driven by the same Force to the unscrupulous and unsocialist length of ...
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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... Irish. He had the background of a gentleman and the instincts of an aesthete: spiritualism and theosophy 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 ...
14 November 1996
Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... of women. Brivati thinks that he and Dora Gaitskell may have had an arrangement which allowed for his probably quite numerous affairs, particularly his long relationship with Ian Fleming’s wife, Ann – certainly the Gaitskells often dined with one or both Flemings, making one wonder quite what the mutual understandings were. Ann Fleming was a wealthy Tory – she had been married to Lord ...

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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... business. He isn’t one of Livesay’s subjects 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 plantations across the ...
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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... eight hundred million people in the world live in constant fear of starvation. Under the circumstances, 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 ...

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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... Oui je suis méchant si ça m’amuse.’ Like most love affairs, this one was not untouched by jealousy. What most upset the ever polite Englishman was the effrontery of his arch-rival, Douglas Cooper. Penrose’s letters to Picasso mentioning Cooper are not always entirely truthful: from time to time, as Cowling puts it, ‘personal animosity got in the way of strict accuracy.’ Cooper ...

A Life of Henry Reed

Jon Stallworthy

12 September 1991
... of Dudley. Henry senior’s other enthusiasms included reading, but the literary abilities of his 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 ...
21 August 1997
God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... poetry collection The Queen of Sheba. It is insistent in W.N. Herbert’s poem ‘Featherhood’ 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 ...

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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... city fathers opened the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, complete with a sculpture of Parks in her bus 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 ...

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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... Poussin in question has recently been bought by the Museum of Art in Cleveland, and I learn that experts 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 ...

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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... in The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe (1989), women like her could call on precedents recounted in books such as The Female Soldier (about Snell) or the 1804 memoirs of Mary Ann Talbot, who claimed to have served in the navy during the French revolutionary wars. Among Bulkley’s few surviving letters is one to her wastrel brother John, written as he was shipping out with a ...

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