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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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... another body blow. Revolutionary suicide, making one’s exit like an antique Roman, was the final proof of self-mastery, spirit triumphant over the flesh: they slew the body and called it freedom. BarbaraGates’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 ...

Composition

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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... it illustrates. ‘Asyndeton in long sequences is a favoured vehicle for the denunciatory tirade ... 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 ...

Blights

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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... familiar elements, but imposes a new, somewhat wavering outline on them, as they float into the mind 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 ...

Diary

Robert Irwin: Pinball and Despair

7 July 1994
... based on the imagery of science fiction or of games of chance. A pinball machine’s story is graphically 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 ...

In the Physic Garden

Peter Campbell: In Chelsea

19 September 2002
... Before 1983 the Chelsea Physic Garden was a secret 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 ...

Spicy

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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... foul-smelling and incommodious; on the right, the Ladies: perfumed, decorative and sumptuously furnished; 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 ...

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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... himself and including Aneurin Bevan, Edith Summerskill and Morgan Phillips. The second was a queasily 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 ...

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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... has changed as radically as has the C of E, at least since the beginning of the Sixties. When its 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 ...

Freddie Gray

Adam Shatz

20 May 2015
... also an expression of despair among those who are all too accustomed to being treated as if they were 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 ...
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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... potent, cause for alarm was the fact that the children were clearly rehearsing the procedures adopted 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 ...
26 January 1995
Proust and the Sense of Time 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Stephen Bann.
Faber, 103 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 571 16880 9
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Le Temps sensible: Proust et l’expérience littéraire 
by Julia Kristeva.
Gallimard, 451 pp., January 1995, 2 07 073116 2
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The Old Man and the Wolves 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Barbara​ Bray.
Columbia, 183 pp., £15, January 1995, 0 231 08020 4
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... foolish to regret acts of generosity never performed. But I can’t help weeping the unrelieving tears that mourn missed understandings ... But what is the point of weeping of ever at the forbidden gates of a Law that no longer exists? It’s like the wan fear of orphans, unable to hope for the impossible. It’s said women don’t go in for atheism because they’re always in search of an illusion ...
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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... In the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters 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 ...

A Dreame of Passion

Barbara​ Everett: Shakespeare’s Most Peculiar Play

2 January 2003
... is most often glossed as scriptural. But its other and earlier occurrence in the playwright is in III 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 ...

Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell

6 December 1984
The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... he sometimes tried men instead, simply for the sake of variety. The description of himself as Through all the town, a common fucking post, On whom each whore relieves her tingling cunt, As hogs on gates do rub themselves, and grunt, has a bitterness which may be explained by its position at the end of ‘The Imperfect Enjoyment’. Yet his picture of women asking ‘who are the men most worne of ...

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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... included the tempestuous Mary Arnold, later Mrs Humphry Ward. Living with Arthur’s well-connected 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 ...

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