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5 March 1987
Baroque ’n’ Roll 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 172 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 241 12037 3
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... only discovered by means of stories and novels, and that this is why philosophers, who seldom or never read them, have been unable to find it? We read therefore we are. The idea is suggested to me by BrigidBrophy’s essays, which constitute one of the strongest proofs of personal identity I have ever come across. If a real person is not here, where is a person to be found? She writes therefore she is ...

Julia Caesar

Marilyn Butler

17 March 1983
The Prince and the Wild Geese 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 62 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 241 10894 2
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... The Prince and the Wild Geese is a story of 1832 told in words and pictures, the words almost all BrigidBrophy’s, the pictures by Prince Grégoire Gagarin, artist son of the Russian ambassador in Rome after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Graceful and witty, Gagarin’s drawings portray his social world ...
21 February 1980
Hackenfeller’s Ape 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 125 pp., £5.50, October 1980, 0 85031 314 7
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Flesh 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 124 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 9780850313185
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The Snow Ball 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 143 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 0 85031 316 3
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... BrigidBrophy’s novels have often been described as ‘brilliantly written’: a judgment which can have done her sales little good. (‘Don’t bother with that book – it’s brilliantly written!’) The ...
1 May 1980
Doctor Fischer of Geneva. Or The Bomb Party 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 140 pp., £4.50, March 1980, 0 370 30316 4
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... What can have possessed Graham Greene? The answer, I suspect, is the ghost of Thomas Mann. The Swiss setting of Doctor Fischer of Geneva might be determined by some generic effluvium of Mann, a compound of his Magic (Swiss) Mountain, his post-war return to Switzerland and, perhaps, his rather landlocked position at the centre of European letters. But the Dybbuk that seems to have taken over Mr Greene’s ...

Transference

Brigid Brophy

15 April 1982
Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession 
by Janet Malcolm.
Picador, 174 pp., £1.95, February 1982, 9780330267373
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Psychoanalytic Psychology of Normal Development 
by Anna Freud.
Hogarth, 389 pp., £15, February 1982, 0 7012 0543 1
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Record of a Friendship: The Correspondence of Wilhelm Reich and A.S. Neill 
edited by Beverley Placzek.
Gollancz, 429 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 575 03054 2
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... The phenomenon of transference – how we all invent each other according to early blueprints – was Freud’s most original and radical discovery. The idea of infant sexuality and of the Oedipus complex can be accepted with a good deal more equanimity than the idea that the most precious and inviolate of entities – personal relations – is actually a messy jangle of misapprehensions, at best an ...

Son of God

Brigid Brophy

21 April 1983
Michelangelo 
by Robert Liebert.
Yale, 447 pp., £25, January 1983, 0 300 02793 1
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The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse 
edited by Stephen Coote.
Penguin, 410 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 14 042293 5
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... The heavenly ruler looked down, noted the inadequacy of Giotto and his successors and decided to dispatch Michelangelo to earth, there to demonstrate perfection in no fewer than four arts (drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture) and thus redeem mankind from errors of taste. So runs the exordium of Giorgio Vasari’s Life of Michelangelo. It would not surprise me if Vasari got this conceit from ...
22 November 1979
The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work 
by Germaine Greer.
Secker, 373 pp., £12.50, November 1979, 1 86064 677 8
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... Why portable paintings have acquired such prestige is not immediately obvious, especially because we have all grown up taking their prestigiousness for granted and calling other art forms, including the massive ones of architecture and gardening, minor arts.’ With this one sentence Germaine Greer provokes several queries and a vehement expostulation. What is ‘prestigiousness’ and how does ...

Abbé Aubrey

Brigid Brophy

2 April 1981
Aubrey Beardsley: An Account of his Life 
by Miriam Benkovitz.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £8.95, February 1981, 0 241 10382 7
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... Although he was only 17, his interests were iridescent.’ I wonder what Miriam J. Benkovitz, sometime Professor of English, thinks ‘iridescent’ means. The next stage after ‘adolescent’, perhaps. Something, certainly, to do with growing. A hundred or so pages further on, she suggests that Beardsley’s ‘iridescent interests’ may have ‘enlarged his stature’. What’s more, she describes ...
2 July 1981
Bernard Shaw and the Actresses 
by Margot Peters.
Columbus, 461 pp., £8.75, March 1981, 0 385 12051 6
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... Mozart had a discernible tendency to fall in love with his sopranos, Shaw something little short of a compulsion to fall in love with, first, women who took singing lessons from his mother and then, after he turned dramatist, his actresses. This must be one of the hazards of creating works of art that need executants to perform them. Ordinary lovers are sometimes dismayed to find that their beloved ...

Anyone for sex?

Brigid Brophy

16 July 1981
The Game: My 40 Years in Tennis 
by Jack Kramer and Frank Deford.
Deutsch, 318 pp., £8.95, June 1981, 0 233 97307 9
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... It is funny of Jack Kramer to recount his ‘40 years in tennis’ under the title The Game, given that he was a pioneer of tennis as a business. I received my serious call to a life of devout tennis-watching in the year (1947) when Mr Kramer took the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon. His court personality was that of a Nice American Kid. (He still speaks of latterday players as ‘kids ...

Liberties

Brigid Brophy

2 October 1980
Deliberate Regression 
by Robert Harbison.
Deutsch, 264 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 233 97273 0
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... Something is amiss with Robert Harbison’s sentences. They seem to consist almost wholly of last-minute additions. The way out of the impasse brought on by the decay of religion available to Wilson was an authorised version of Ruskin’s symbolic correspondence, authorised by duplicated evidence from the distant past excavated by science, and institutionalised by the artist in specific forms, like ...
22 January 1981
Reconstructing Aphra 
by Angeline Goreau.
Oxford, 339 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 19 822663 2
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... Angeline Goreau calls her chapter on the beginning of Aphra Behn’s life not ‘Birth’ but ‘“Birth” ’. She turns out, however, not to be disputing that Aphra Behn was born or even suggesting that she was from her mother’s womb untimely ripped. It’s merely that Ms Goreau is given to an illiterate use of inverted commas and is under the misapprehension that the time and place of her subject’s ...
6 December 1979
Jane Austen’s Letters 
edited by R.W. Chapman.
Oxford, 519 pp., £15
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... In one respect at least we must be glad Jane Austen refused the proposal of marriage made her in 1802. Literature would be a little less seemly had she obliged us to think of our greatest (indeed, I more and more suspect, the greatest) novelist as Jane Bigg-Wither. Her invention was more euphonious. Trying, in 1809, to recover the novel that a publisher had bought for £10 and sat on, unpublished ...

Mozart’s Cross

Brigid Brophy

7 August 1986
The Letters of Mozart and his Family 
translated by Emily Anderson.
Macmillan, 1038 pp., £38.50, November 1985, 0 333 39832 7
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... Mozart the letter-writer, like Mozart the composer of virtually every form and species of music, is the supreme non-bore. The ‘daughter of Hamm, the Secretary for War’, must, he reports to his father from Augsburg in 1777, have a gift for music since, even without having been well taught, she can play several clavier pieces ‘really well’. Yet she is an affected performer. Tuition in Salzburg ...
21 February 1980
James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word 
by Colin MacCabe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £8.95, February 1979, 0 333 21648 2
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... a copy of Ulysses in Paris some years before I was born) I was brought up on Joyce and therefore apprehended him not as a revolutionary, and not as numinous (even though Ulysses makes mention of ‘Brophy, the lame gardener’), but as a norm – almost a ‘classic realist text’, indeed. I think it would be wiser to admit that the sensuous and intellectual attractions of almost any given page of ...

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