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Frank Kermode: B. S. Johnson, 5 August 2004

Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson 
by Jonathan Coe.
Picador, 486 pp., £20, June 2004, 9780330350488
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‘Trawl’, ‘Albert Angelo’ and ‘House Mother Normal’ 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 472 pp., £14.99, June 2004, 0 330 35332 2
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... The English avant-garde novel was, at least until quite recently, a bit short on theory, though Christine Brooke-Rose has done what she could to put that right. What tends to be ignored is the degree to which practically all the modern novelists now admired, though not for their technical stunts, have gone in for ...

Her Body or the Sea

Ian Patterson: Ann Quin, 21 June 2018

The Unmapped Country: Stories and Fragments 
by Ann Quin.
And Other Stories, 192 pp., £10, January 2018, 978 1 911508 14 4
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... Djuna Barnes and Joyce, say, through Henry Green and Beckett and Robbe-Grillet to Burroughs and Christine Brooke-Rose. The dust jacket flaps of novels published by Calder and Boyars between 1966 and 1972 list their books under the varying heads of ‘Contemporary Fiction’, ‘Fiction’, ‘Modern ...

Der Jazz des Linguas

Matthew Reynolds: Diego Marani, 8 November 2012

New Finnish Grammar 
by Diego Marani, translated by Judith Landry.
Dedalus, 187 pp., £9.99, May 2011, 978 1 903517 94 9
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The Last of the Vostyachs 
by Diego Marani, translated by Judith Landry.
Dedalus, 166 pp., £9.99, May 2012, 978 1 907650 56 7
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Las Adventures des Inspector Cabillot 
by Diego Marani.
Dedalus, 138 pp., £6.99, July 2012, 978 1 907650 59 8
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... writing: Sterne, Byron, Joyce, Gadda, Amelia Rosselli. The closest point of comparison is probably Christine Brooke-Rose, whose novel Between, published in 1968, inhabits the consciousness of a simultaneous interpreter who – like so many of Marani’s characters – is dislocated between nations and languages. Here she is ...

Representing Grandma

Steven Rose, 7 July 1994

The Astounding Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul 
by Francis Crick.
Simon and Schuster, 317 pp., £16.99, May 1994, 9780671711580
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... joined by a small community of philosophers of mind. Some of these, like Patricia Churchland and Christine Skarda, have actually relocated themselves within neuroscience laboratories; others, like Daniel Dennett and even John Searle, are content to observe closely from the outside. While this attention to the brain has shifted the centre of gravity of the ...

At the National Gallery

Julian Bell: Delacroix, 17 March 2016

... big thing? By way of a refusal to make yet bigger things, according to his recent biographer Marie-Christine Natta: she calls Delacroix’s still lifes of 1848 the ‘secret protest’ of a politically phlegmatic 50-year-old declining to match Liberty Leading the People of 1830 with an Equality on the Barricades fitted to that year’s revolution, as the ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Weiner Trilogy, 29 August 2013

... In the 1980s, just out of college, where he played hockey (still does, every Monday night), Weiner rose through the office of then Congressman Charles Schumer (now known as ‘Wall Street’s senator’), and was elected New York’s youngest ever city councilman in 1991, using race-baiting tactics in a predominantly white district. He won Schumer’s ...

Brown Goo like Marmite

Neal Ascherson: Memories of the Fog, 8 October 2015

London Fog: The Biography 
by Christine Corton.
Harvard, 408 pp., £22.95, November 2015, 978 0 674 08835 1
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... scientifically – should never be seen again. But then, that’s what they thought before 1962.Christine Corton’s excellent book explores three questions: how people accounted for London fog, what they did about it, and how it became such an enormous, apparently inexhaustible cultural resource and metaphor. Liability to fog has ultimately something to do ...

Taunted with the Duke of Kent, she married the Aga Khan

Rosemary Hill: Coming Out, 19 October 2006

Last Curtsey: The End of the Debutantes 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 305 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 571 22859 3
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... swans but as viragos. Among MacCarthy’s near contemporaries at the Palace were Vanessa Redgrave, Rose Dugdale and Teresa ‘Hayter of the Bourgeoisie’ Hayter, whose autobiography, MacCarthy notes with rare pique, makes no reference at all to her debutante life. She obligingly sets the record straight with a photograph of a pre-Marxist Teresa looking lovely ...


Clare Bucknell, 21 May 2020

... Trump directly: ‘Tell me, sir,/ … Why do you consider us so little?’ Lovelace has a poem for Christine Blasey Ford, responsible for speaking ‘mighty truths’ at the time of Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination ‘so a million more truths/could finally escape’. Kaur channels the outspoken ethos of #MeToo: ‘now/is our time/to be mouthy/get as loud ...

Nayled to the wow

Tom Shippey, 7 January 1993

The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer 
by Derek Pearsall.
Blackwell, 365 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 1 55786 205 2
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A Wyf ther was: Essays in Honour of Paule Mertens-Fonck 
edited by Juliette Dor.
University of Liège, 300 pp., June 1992, 2 87233 004 6
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Hochon’s Arrow: The Social Imagination of 14th-Century Texts 
by Paul Strohm.
Princeton, 205 pp., £27.50, November 1992, 0 691 06880 1
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... a pub in Ipswich, while his great-great-grandson, Richard Duke of Suffolk, nicknamed ‘Blanche Rose’, was accepted as King of England – but, alas, only by the French, and only till he was killed in battle at Pavia. There is an irony, on which Derek Pearsall ends his book, in the extirpation of the Chaucer line around 1539 at virtually the same moment ...

Astonishing Heloise

Barbara Newman, 23 January 2014

The Letter Collection of Peter Abelard and Heloise 
edited by David Luscombe.
Oxford, 654 pp., £165, August 2013, 978 0 19 822248 4
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... in religious life, translated them into French and popularised their story in his Roman de la Rose. One of his characters praises Heloise as peerless among women, but uses their tale all the same to warn men against marriage. A gothic legend recounts that when Heloise was buried beside Abelard, already 21 years dead, his skeleton opened its arms to ...


Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... well-being, maternal ambivalence and the direction of feminism runs very high, as Jacqueline Rose searchingly discussed in her essay ‘Mothers’ (LRB, 19 June 2014). Ever since Euripides showed unexpected sympathy with Medea she has been a heroine for real-world questions about women – their status, their weakness – and about betrayal, blood ties ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... of mirth. ‘You’ve got a chance in a place like this,’ says a sixty-year-old woman called Rose at the opening of Harold Pinter’s first play, The Room. ‘It was the alcoholics’ paradise,’ Barry Humphries writes in his introduction to Darren Coffield’s entertaining book.You merely ran up a slate. Later, much later, came the reckoning, but you ...

The Clothes They Stood Up In

Alan Bennett, 28 November 1996

... yes’ (insofar as they call me anything, thought Mrs Ransome). ‘Just wondered if it was Rose or Rosie?’ ‘Oh no.’ ‘Hubby calls you Rosemary, does he?’ ‘Well, yes,’ said Mrs Ransome, ‘I suppose he does,’ and went to put the kettle on, thus enabling Dusty to make her first note: ‘Query: Is burglary the real problem here?’ When ...

This Sporting Life

R.W. Johnson, 8 December 1994

Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... and Powell, but he was not destined to be on the backbenches for long. In a debate on the NHS he rose to take on the speaker all Tories feared most, Aneurin Bevan. A few months later, Churchill made him Minister of Health. Macleod was so shaken that he had to go to a phone box to find out where on earth his ministry was. He announced that he would be the ...

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