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Body History

Roy Porter, 31 August 1989

The Body and the French Revolution: Sex, Class and Political Culture 
by Dorinda Outram.
Yale, 197 pp., £22, May 1989, 0 300 04436 4
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Victorian Suicide: Mad Crimes and Sad Histories 
by Barbara Gates.
Princeton, 190 pp., £19.95, September 1988, 0 691 09437 3
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Sexual Visions: Images of Gender in Science and Medicine between the 18th and 20th Centuries 
by Ludmilla Jordanova.
Harvester, 224 pp., £19.95, April 1989, 9780745003320
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Family, Love and Work in the Lives of Victorian Gentlewomen 
by Jeanne Peterson.
Indiana, 241 pp., $39.95, May 1989, 0 253 20509 3
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... proof of self-mastery, spirit triumphant over the flesh: they slew the body and called it freedom. Barbara Gates’s fine study of Victorian suicide, taken as the harbinger of what Hardy called ‘the coming universal wish not to live’, ironically opens with the self-slaughter of one of the Revolution’s most implacable foes, Lord Castlereagh. And ...


Barbara Strang, 4 June 1981

Designs in Prose 
by Walter Nash.
Longman, 228 pp., £10.50, June 1980, 0 582 29100 3
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... One of the qualities of polysyndeton, on the other hand, is to suggest emotion beating at the gates of restraint’ – if this is true, the most interesting question is why? The last three chapters change again in tone, having much more the character of a handbook, despite the strongly personal, and thus valuable, quality of some of the last ...


Patricia Craig, 23 April 1987

A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... of an old woman savouring for the last time the poignancy of her past. Like Minnie McMahon in The Gates, and Nancy Gulliver in The Old Jest, the central character of this novel is 19 years old, all playfulness and charm, and utterly unprepared for tragedy, despite the state of the country and its implications for her future. The cast assembled by the author ...

Memories of an Edwardian Girlhood

Barbara Wootton, 4 March 1982

Girls Growing Up in Late Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Carol Dyhouse.
Routledge, 224 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 9780710008213
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Hooligans or Rebels: An Oral History of Working-Class Childhood and Youth 1889-1939 
by Stephen Humphries.
Blackwell, 279 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 631 12982 0
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... by their parents in industrial disputes, as, for instance, by stationing pickets at the school gates and organising marches and demonstrations. Having nailed his colours to the Marxian mast Humphries resolutely stands by them. But things get difficult when we come face to face with the goings-on of some young men who are no longer subject to the supposedly ...

In the Physic Garden

Peter Campbell: In Chelsea, 19 September 2002

... place you glimpsed from the top of a bus passing along the Embankment. Not many got through its gates – one director, at least, took pleasure in turning away grand amateur gardeners. Now it is open to the public (Wednesday and Sunday afternoons). It is still an important botanical resource, but no longer a training ground for apprentice apothecaries, as ...


Robert Irwin: Pinball and Despair, 7 July 1994

... spread across both the playfield and the backglass, while the game’s bumpers, rollovers, gates and so on are customised to fit in with the theme. In ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, the silver ball hurtles along dark, stone-flagged corridors and up cobwebbed ramps, bounces off battlements and disappears from time to time into catacombs. An odd feature ...


Nicholas Spice, 15 March 1984

The Fetishist, and Other Stories 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 00 221440 7
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My Aunt Christina, and Other Stories 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 575 03256 1
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Mr Bedford and the Muses 
by Gail Godwin.
Heinemann, 229 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 434 29751 8
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Alexandra Freed 
by Lisa Zeidner.
Cape, 288 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 224 02158 3
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The Coffin Tree 
by Wendy Law-Yone.
Cape, 195 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 224 02963 0
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... in the middle, Mamouse, the large lady caretaker who sits ‘like the dog Cerberus’ at the gates of hell, watching over her pourboires and her pot of simmering chicken-giblet broth. Prickly’s chief aim in life is to sneak past Mamouse into the Ladies, where behind closed doors, and without having to stand up (a position which inhibits him), he can ...

Freddie Gray

Adam Shatz, 21 May 2015

... thugs. This suspicion isn’t confined to the black poor, either, as Obama’s friend Henry Louis Gates discovered when he was arrested while trying to get into his own house, after a phone call to the police from a white bystander. America has undergone a significant racial transformation since the 1960s, but it has bred both black affluence and an even more ...

A Dreame of Passion

Barbara Everett: Shakespeare’s Most Peculiar Play, 2 January 2003

... Henry VI. Warwick ‘the kingmaker’ proposes to replace the head of York, savagely set on the gates of the city by Margaret, with that of Clifford: From off the gates of Yorke fetch down the head, Your Father’s head, which Clifford placed there: In stead whereof, let this supply the roome, Measure for measure must be ...

Petal by Petal

C.K. Stead, 27 May 1993

E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962 
edited by George Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £33, January 1993, 0 87140 145 2
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... Eliot (Michael Caine) contrives to cross paths on a Manhattan street with his sister-in-law. Lee (Barbara Hershey), with whom he has fallen in love. He pretends to be hunting for a bookshop: she shows him the way to it and there he finds, as if by chance, E.E. Cummings’s Collected Poems, which he insists on buying for her. Putting her into a taxi he tells ...

Just Like Cookham

Neal Ascherson: Stanley Spencer in China, 19 May 2011

Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 591 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 19 954193 5
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... assorted mob from the wider Labour movement: a constellation of leftist Bevanite MPs including Barbara Castle, accompanied by MPs from the pro-American right of the party and assorted trade unionists (some of them ‘allegedly quite ignorant freeloaders’, as Wright puts it, others equally ignorant fellow-travellers, and a few who remained shrewd and ...

It’s me you gotta make happy

Andrea Brady: John Wieners, 29 July 2021

Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of John Wieners 
edited by Michael Seth Stewart.
New Mexico, 333 pp., £60, December 2020, 978 0 8263 6204 9
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... confidence, sometimes shading into condescension. He imitates Olson’s magisterial mode, telling Barbara Guest: ‘There is not enough. I have gone over them three times after receiving them & now again – different … I want more. Maybe this cannot be. That you are not structured such.’ He advises Jimmy Schuyler ‘to develop all you can yr ...

Tea or Eucharist?

Anthony Howard, 3 December 1992

The Faber Book of Church and Clergy 
edited by A.N. Wilson.
Faber, 304 pp., £17.50, November 1992, 0 571 16204 5
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High and Mitred: A Study of Prime Ministers as Bishop-Makers 1837-1977 
by Bernard Palmer.
SPCK, 350 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 281 04594 1
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... last traditionalist Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Fisher of Lambeth, retired in 1961 the flood-gates of reform immediately opened. Even the time-honoured episcopal uniform of frock-coat and gaiters vanished along with him, as the old order made way for a new, informal one. The allegation against the Church, made by its critics, was that it had sacrificed ...

Little was expected of Annie

Dinah Birch: The Story of an English Family, 19 October 2006

Faith, Duty and the Power of Mind: The Cloughs and Their Circle 1820-1960 
by Gillian Sutherland.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £40, March 2006, 0 521 86155 1
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... widow allowed Annie to mix with women of radical ideas and public ambition: Florence Nightingale, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Emily Davies. Her feminist instincts took shape in such company. She began to take a part in public affairs, presenting evidence on the education of girls to the Taunton Commission, established in 1864 to ...

Her Big Horse Face

Rivka Galchen: Clarice Lispector, 2 April 2020

The Besieged City 
by Clarice Lispector, translated by Johnny Lorenz.
Penguin, 224 pp., £8.99, August 2019, 978 0 241 37137 4
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The Chandelier 
by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjamin Moser and Magdalena Edwards.
Penguin, 320 pp., £9.99, November 2019, 978 0 241 37134 3
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... to forget to look at the narrowest house, the smallest shadow. The closed shops with their rolling gates of iron.’ Of her hometown, whose location is never made clear, we are told: ‘You could hardly make out its radiant and peaceful moistness that on certain mornings would come from the mist and emerge from the nostrils of the horses – the radiant ...

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