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Seriously Uncool

Jenny Diski: Susan Sontag, 22 March 2007

At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches 
edited by Paolo Dilonardo and Anne Jump, preface by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 235 pp., £18.99, April 2007, 978 0 241 14371 1
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A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 
by Annie Leibovitz.
Cape, 480 pp., £60, October 2006, 0 224 08063 6
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... Susan Sontag intended something like the book which is now published as At the Same Time to be her final collection of essays. After that, says her son, David Rieff, in his foreword, she intended to get on with what she most valued, writing fiction. Edited by her, somewhat differently no doubt, this would, then, have been her next book. As it is, published two years after her death, and put together by Rieff and her assistants with an eye on her preliminary sketch of its contents, it is her last book ...

Tit for Tat

Margaret Anne Doody, 21 December 1989

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology 
edited by Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford, 555 pp., £20, September 1989, 0 19 811769 8
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... the male poets: they were among the poets that the male poets read. That Pope adapted a line from Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, when he wrote ‘Die of a rose in aromatic pain’ (Essay on Man) is constantly referred to in footnotes, but editors and critics have generally fought shy of considering the impact on Pope and other poets of his time of ...

Poxy Doxies

Margaret Anne Doody, 14 December 1995

Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet 
by Germaine Greer.
Viking, 517 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 670 84914 6
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... Let us not glamorise or cleanse them, or avert our eyes from their lesions. Greer suggests that Anne Wharton, Rochester’s niece and an admired poet, suffered from inherited ‘primary syphilis’, showing the first symptoms in her childhood. The fact that she settled her whole estate on her husband is brought in as evidence that she might have been making ...


Michael Henry: Trials of a Translator, 19 August 2010

... my friend Toby Eady, an agent, who promises to make contact with Gallimard’s director of rights, Anne-Solange Noble, at the Frankfurt Book Fair the following week. On 13 October I hear from Penguin; they would like to see a copy of my translation. A week later, Anne-Solange Noble asks for a copy too. I tell her that it is ...


Barbara Taylor: My Mennonite Conversion, 2 June 2005

A Complicated Kindness 
by Miriam Toews.
Faber, 246 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 571 22400 8
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... room; religion was not to be discussed. So I was barely aware of these girls’ beliefs, until Anne Guenther arrived. Anne was a bright, good-natured woman, and I took to her immediately. I’d like to think that she also liked me, that something in my 11-year-old self attracted her apart from my spiritual ...

Dear Sir

E.S. Turner, 15 May 1980

The Henry Root Letters 
Weidenfeld, 156 pp., £4.50, March 1980, 0 297 77762 9Show More
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... notice of a letter which says: ‘I am sorry to hear of the trouble you are having with Princess Anne. My Doreen (19) is off the rails too ...’? In short, is what is wrong with the nation today an inability to tell people like Henry Root to get knotted? No picture of Root appears on the book jacket. Such a modesty in the immodest is not surprising, for it ...

Bourgeois Nightmares

Gilberto Perez: Michael Haneke, 6 December 2012

... Psycho so bad when it so closely followed the original? The answer lies not least with the actors: Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn are no match for Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. Haneke’s American remake of Funny Games, even closer to the original movie in story and shot arrangement, is also inferior, and again the actors are a primary reason. The villains ...

Miss Dior, Prodigally Applied

Ian Patterson: Jilly Cooper, 18 May 2017

by Jilly Cooper.
Corgi, 610 pp., £7.99, February 2017, 978 0 552 17028 4
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... aside for a moment the ‘raunchy’ cover pictures, the breathless titles (Score! or Wicked! or Jump!), and the publicists’ emphasis on wall-to-wall sex, you do find something worth reading and worth thinking about, which is pleasure, that most ticklish of subjects. There is a particular pleasure in reading about pleasure: pleasure delayed and ...

Veering Wildly

Kirsty Gunn: Jayne Anne Phillips, 31 July 2014

Quiet Dell 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Cape, 445 pp., £18.99, April 2014, 978 0 224 09935 6
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... of prizes for stories that Raymond Carver described as ‘unlike any in our literature’, Jayne Anne Phillips has always written this way. Her writing territory, though recognisably American (she appeared in the 1983 issue of Granta that introduced a new kind of writing from the US that the then editor Bill Buford labelled ‘dirty realism’, taking in ...

I ain’t afeared

Marina Warner: In Her Classroom, 9 September 2021

Black Teacher 
by Beryl Gilroy.
Faber, 268 pp., £12.99, July, 978 0 571 36773 3
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... what ‘natives’ do when they have their ‘monthlies’, she replied: ‘Well, Sue, we swim! We jump into the nearest river and swim and swim for miles. Some of us swim for three days and some for four, but that’s what we do.’ Her account of London in the period is as sharp as anything by Barbara Comyns or Muriel Spark. Her phonetic transcriptions of ...

Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... of the indomitable human spirit, we leave the theatre chastened and consoled rather than ready to jump off a cliff. Nothing, it seems, is more life-affirming than watching a bunch of our fellow humans being torn apart. This is another reason Auschwitz, it’s claimed, has nothing to do with tragedy. There is a seed of truth in this: watching tragic drama is ...

Antigone in Galway

Anne Enright, 17 December 2015

... The ground itself might refuse, and yield their bodies up, or if they did stay put, the wall could jump over them in the night, to put the Protestants on the other side. Whole churchyards went wandering in order to leave them behind, and these ideas of purity and aversion persist in the undisturbed Irish earth, even into modern times. When Enda Kenny praised ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... of which Julian Huxley did not care to make public in his own Memories. Huxley crops up again in Anne Sebba’s life of the playwright Enid Bagnold, who as a young girl exchanged poems with him but dropped him when, in one of his letters, he tried to interest her in ‘the intimate interior arrangements of a frog’. During World War One she, too, had a ...

Dark and Buzzing Looks

Susannah Clapp, 1 October 1987

Serenissima: A Novel of Venice 
by Erica Jong.
Bantam, 225 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 593 01365 4
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Her Mother’s Daughter 
by Marilyn French.
Heinemann, 756 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 434 27200 0
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The Wedding of Jayanthi Mandel 
by Sara Banerji.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 575 03984 1
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... Zandra Rhodes Victorian fantasy’, ‘an elegant Missoni knit dress’ and ‘a Thierry Mugler jump suit’. Arrival in the 16th century is signalled by a mistiness of documentation, a mistiness which may be intended to convey the quality of dream. Jessica notices ‘humble working people’ and ‘magnificently dressed aristocrats’. On the Rialto she ...


Elisa Segrave: Is this what it’s like to be famous?, 11 May 1995

... take each day as it comes. ‘You mean,’ said Richard, the presenting Other Half, ‘don’t jump your fences before you come to them?’ I’m very hurt not to be on. Two hours later, I decided television was a vulgar medium. My editor rang up saying that I was going to be on World of Books, something far more highbrow. A few days later I was on TV ...

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