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More than ever, and for ever

Michael Rogin: Beauvoir and Nelson Algren, 17 September 1998

Beloved Chicago Man: Letters to Nelson Algren 1947-64 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gollancz, 624 pp., £25, August 1998, 0 575 06590 7
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America Day by Day 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Carol Cosman.
California, 355 pp., $27.50, January 1999, 0 520 20979 6
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... years covered by these letters, Force of Circumstance (as translated by Richard Howard), and in Carol Cosman’s version of America Day by Day. The difference between Beloved Chicago Man and The Mandarins is that Beauvoir could speak to Algren as she could to no one else. Anyone reading these extraordinary communications will urgently want the answers to ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... chain-reaction of theatricality, for he is noisily succeeded by Gower Champion, Coco Chanel, Carol Channing, ‘Chips’ Channon (by no means out of place), and Charlie Chaplin. All the Coopers are there: Lady Diana, Duff, Gladys, Gary and Tommy. There are Douglases, from Lord Alfred to Mr and Mrs Kirk; here are the Nicholses, Beverley and Mike; and you ...

Elegant Extracts

Leah Price: Anthologies, 3 February 2000

The Oxford Book of English Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 690 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 214182 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume One 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2974 pp., £22.50, December 1999, 0 393 97487 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2963 pp., £22.50, February 2000, 9780393974911
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume One 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2963 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01173 2
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume Two 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2982 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01174 0
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Night & Horses & The Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature 
edited by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 7139 9153 4
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News that Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 189 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 0 571 20060 5
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Time’s Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Anvil, 157 pp., £7.95, November 1999, 0 85646 313 2
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Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Penguin, 640 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780140588996
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... annexed Yeats but overlaid the southern edge of Ireland with a blown-up inset of the Lake District. The Longman’s decision to mark Gaelic-speaking areas on a map of the British Isles announces its devolutionary agenda as clearly as the new Norton’s move to balance its traditional map of London by another of the Empire honours its growing ...

I wish she’d been a dog

Elaine Showalter, 7 February 1991

Jean Stafford: The Savage Heart 
by Charlotte Margolis Goodman.
Texas, 394 pp., $24.95, May 1990, 0 292 74022 0
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... wasted life. Indeed, in a celebrated review of the book in the New York Times Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates linked it with a genre she named ‘pathography’, whose ‘motifs are dysfunction and disaster, illnesses and pratfalls, failed marriages and failed careers, alcoholism and breakdowns and outrageous conduct. Its scenes are sensational, wallowing in ...

Boudoir Politics

Bee Wilson: Lola Montez, 7 June 2007

Lola Montez: Her Life and Conquests 
by James Morton.
Portrait, 390 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 7499 5115 3
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... minister), the French newspaper editor Alexandre Dujarier, Marius Petipa (the creator of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker), the Earl of Malmesbury, the Count of Schleissen, Lord Brougham (once described as ‘the ugliest man of the present century next to Liston and Lord Carlyle’), Jung Bahadur (the Nepalese ambassador to London), Savile Morton (a ...

The Bloody Sixth

Joshua Brown: The Real Gangs of New York, 23 January 2003

The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld 
by Herbert Asbury.
Arrow, 366 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 0 09 943674 4
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Gangs of New York 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
December 2002
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... spawned such mayhem. Five Points was built over the soupy landfill that had once been a polluted lake, and Charles Dickens observed during the 1840s that ‘all that is loathsome, drooping and decayed is here.’ The mysterious name merely denoted the intersection of Baxter, Worth and Park Streets, now buried beneath the city courts. The Points have had many ...

Merely an Empire

David Thomson: Eighteen Hours in Vietnam, 21 September 2017

The Vietnam War 
directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
PBS, ten episodes
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... a movie from 1943, So Proudly We Hail!, in which Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake played nurses on Corregidor. That blithe make-believe inspired Furey in the late 1960s to enlist as a nurse. She was trained and idealistic and brave, which meant learning to ‘swallow your own fear’ when artillery fire came down on her field ...


Tom Paulin: Ted Hughes and the Hare, 29 November 2007

Letters of Ted Hughes 
edited by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 756 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 571 22138 7
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... a much later letter (23 October 1983) to the painter Barrie Cooke, where he describes fishing on Lake Victoria with his son, Nicholas:Nick & I went across one night – a biggish sea, a very big load of fish, sailing into the most incredible display of lightning I ever saw. Truly like a thunderstorm on an electrified planet in a space fiction film. We got ...

How peculiar it is

Rosemary Hill: Gorey’s Glories, 3 June 2021

Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey 
by Mark Dery.
William Collins, 512 pp., £9.99, October 2020, 978 0 00 832984 6
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... when he was a conscript sitting out the war as a company clerk at an army base in the Great Salt Lake Desert, ‘a ghastly place … we kept ourselves sloshed on tequila, which wasn’t rationed.’ His father was a newspaperman, a reporter then an editor; his mother was a housewife who adored her precocious son. Gorey was reading by the age of three and at ...

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