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Ye must all be alike

Catherine Gallagher, 27 January 1994

Writing Women in Jacobean England 
by Barbara Kiefer Lewalski.
Harvard, 431 pp., £35.95, February 1993, 0 674 96242 7
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... The reign of James I has long been considered a period in which patriarchal orthodoxy revived in an especially virulent form to counteract 45 years of female rule. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski quotes King James’s advice to his son to illustrate what she frequently calls the era’s ‘dominant ideology’: Ye are the head, [your Wife] your body; It is your office to command, and hers to obey; but yet with such a sweet harmonie as she should be as ready to obey, as ye to command ...

Travels without My Aunt

Catherine Gallagher: The 18th-century family, 3 November 2005

Novel Relations: The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture 1748-1818 
by Ruth Perry.
Cambridge, 466 pp., £50, August 2004, 0 521 83694 8
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... The English family, it’s thought, did not change rapidly or radically during the early modern period. Most English people in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries lived in what demographers call ‘simple’ households: a married couple, their dependent children and sometimes their servants – a ‘nuclear’ family, in short, rather than a complex or extended one ...

Touches of the Real

David Simpson: Stephen Greenblatt, 24 May 2001

Practising New Historicism 
by Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt.
Chicago, 249 pp., £17.50, June 2000, 0 226 27934 0
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... for Foucault over Marx, discourse over class and ideology (the latter again criticised here by Catherine Gallagher as a sort of fetish), metaphors of circulation and exchange – ‘social energies’ – over those of cause and effect, and almost anything over Derrida and the challenge of radical deconstruction, seemed to many to be a rather too ...

All the world’s a spy novel

Michael Wood: What Didn’t Happen, 30 July 2020

Counterfactuals: Paths of the Might Have Been 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £19.99, February 2019, 978 1 350 09009 5
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Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 359 pp., £26.50, January 2018, 978 0 226 51241 9
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... and we may well think that they also serve who only sit and sleep. For both Prendergast and Catherine Gallagher, the counterfactual is not any old fantasy but an alarm call for those who have been sleeping too long or too comfortably. There are attractions and risks in reaching for such an instrument. The might-have-been may offer ‘the perfume of ...

Old Verities

Brian Harrison, 19 June 1986

The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 320 pp., £23.25, September 1985, 0 226 27932 4
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Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 
by Philip Priestley.
Methuen, 311 pp., £14.85, October 1985, 0 416 34770 3
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The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers and Vivisection in Edwardian England 
by Coral Lansbury.
University of Wisconsin Press, 212 pp., £23.50, November 1985, 0 299 10250 5
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‘Orator’ Hunt: Henry Hunt and English Working-Class Radicalism 
by John Belchem.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 19 822759 0
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... drawn by the Victorians themselves.’ This internal dialogue is the central preoccupation of Gallagher, who rightly rejects the idea that texts can usefully be analysed separately from their contemporary context. For her, the alleged defects and ambiguities in Early Victorian industrial novels often originate in the doubt and indecision felt by Early ...

Simply Doing It

Thomas Laqueur, 22 February 1996

The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain 1650-1950 
by Roy Porter and Lesley Hall.
Yale, 414 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 300 06221 4
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... pall on the 18th-century advice to be fruitful and multiply, but that doesn’t go far enough. As Catherine Gallagher has argued, the Essay completely reverses the relationship between the healthy individual body and the body social. Rather than being mutually supportive they are suddenly at odds: the fecund individual body reproduces beyond the ability ...

Touching and Being Touched

John Kerrigan: Valentine Cunningham, 19 September 2002

Reading after Theory 
by Valentine Cunningham.
Blackwell, 194 pp., £45, December 2001, 0 631 22167 0
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... He calls a book by William A. Cohen ‘by and large appalling tosh’; the critical practice of Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt is, he says, ‘piss-poor’, while the former is so inaccurate (not that Cunningham is without his blunders) that she gives us ‘history as shitty-slop’. Yet he wants readers to be tactful as well as ...


Janette Turner Hospital, 1 August 1996

Talking to the Dead 
by Helen Dunmore.
Viking, 224 pp., £16, July 1996, 0 670 87002 1
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... knew the terrible secrets, a new life, albeit sadder and wiser, is possible. In A Spell of Winter, Catherine, the narrator, and her older brother Rob, grow up in the large crumbling country house with their grandfather, assorted housemaids and Miss Gallagher, a prissy governess whom neither can stand, but who suffers ...

Shave for them

Christian Lorentzen: ‘The Submission’, 22 September 2011

The Submission 
by Amy Waldman.
Heinemann, 299 pp., £12.99, September 2011, 978 0 434 01932 8
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... of the commodity of public sorrow is to be applauded, along with the brilliance of her writing,’ Catherine Taylor wrote in the Telegraph. In the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani praised the novel’s ‘extraordinary emotional ballast’, and Claire Messud added that it was ‘a necessary and valuable gift’. But a sentence like ‘Southern California was ...

Into the Future

David Trotter: The Novel, 22 March 2007

The Novel: Vol. I: History, Geography and Culture 
edited by Franco Moretti.
Princeton, 916 pp., £65, June 2006, 0 691 04947 5
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The Novel: Vol. II: Forms and Themes 
edited by Franco Moretti.
Princeton, 950 pp., £65, June 2006, 0 691 04948 3
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... cultural pre-eminence in Britain and France in the middle of the 18th century. Fortunately, Catherine Gallagher’s account of the emergence at that time of a ‘discourse’ of what she terms ‘fictionality’ is a model of its kind, lucid and challenging in equal measure. Watt’s emphasis was on the novel as realist fiction; ...

At the End of a Dirt Road

Thomas Powers: The Salinger File, 24 October 2019

The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour – an Introduction 
by J.D. Salinger.
Little, Brown, 1072 pp., $100, November 2018, 978 0 316 45071 3
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... schools, his wardrobe from Brooks Brothers, the names of his girlfriends (Sally Hayes, Jane Gallagher), his dream of running off and living in a little cabin in the West, or at the edge of the woods in Massachusetts or Vermont, all say WASP in a voice with no trace of Jewish New York. When Salinger’s mother peppered the young Margaret and her brother ...

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