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Claudia Johnson: The history of the novel

8 March 2001
The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot 
by Leah Price.
Cambridge, 224 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 78208 2
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... delightfully scandalous: very few people, and even fewer academics, ever publicly admit to being bored by long novels, to skimming them, or to skipping to passages which seem more interesting. Samuel Johnson’s admission that there were few books he felt compelled to read all the way through might license us to think of the length of Richardson’s novels as an inducement to skim or skip. Readers of ...

A Sad and Gory Land

Claudia Johnson

23 February 1995
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 148 pp., £14.99, November 1994, 0 571 17310 1
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... American culture has a special attachment to boys’ coming-of-age stories, and from Tom Sawyer to Summer of ’42 readily invests them with mythic import. But girls’ coming-of-age stories, as distinct from tales about courtship and marriage, find no indulgent public. How could they? Crediting stories about the pain and exhilaration of girls’ fellowship, sexual discovery or disenchantment comes ...

Pwaise the wabbit

Claudia Johnson

1 August 1996
Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings 
by Hugh Kenner.
California, 114 pp., £12, September 1994, 0 520 08797 6
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... Hugh Kenner’s lively Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings belongs to the ‘Portraits of American Genius’ series launched two years ago by the University of California Press with the intention of celebrating American creativity. Books about Toni Morrison and Miles Davis will strike no one as unusual, although the volumes on Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and Mabel McKay, a native American ...

Pleased to Be Loony

Alice Spawls: The Janeites

8 November 2012
Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures 
by Claudia Johnson.
Chicago, 224 pp., £22.50, June 2012, 978 0 226 40203 1
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... ClaudiaJohnson begins with a ghost story. One summer morning, as she sat by the leaded gothic windows of her Princeton study editing the Norton Critical Edition of Mansfield Park, she was stumped about where a ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Eccentric Pilgrims

29 June 2016
... complainers taking inspiration from their cousins across the Channel? Some historical re-enactment rump? It must be charity. Look at the cameras. There aren’t enough of them to bring out Boris Johnson, who never failed, in all the years of his mayoralty, to insert himself on the television ‘news where you are’ for London: in hardhat, bicycle helmet, scrumcap squashed down on the finger-flicked ...

Policing the Police

Fredrick Harris: The Black Panthers

20 June 2013
Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party 
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin.
California, 539 pp., £24.95, January 2013, 978 0 520 27185 2
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... and whose vision was sustained over several years despite the state repression it met with, is, in retrospect, an extraordinary thing in itself. Like W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Charlotta Bass, Claudia Jones and William Patterson in the 1940s and 1950s, the Black Panther Party connected the oppression of black America to people of colour around the globe, linking the internal struggle against ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth

23 January 2014
Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia​ Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... Claudia Roth Pierpont met Philip Roth at a birthday party in 2002. She was a fan, but managed not to alienate him with clumsy enthusiasm. A couple of years later he sent her a photocopy of a newspaper ...

Sex on the Roof

Patricia Lockwood

6 December 2018
Evening in Paradise: More Stories 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8229 8
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Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 160 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8234 2
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... was charming, she was lovable, she was the magnet to which most metal flies. As well as a list of houses, she could have written a list of the names she used for herself: Dolores, Maggie, Carlotta, Claudia, Maria, Maya. (How do writers find the names that are most like their own names? Are they harmonies, alibis, drag, indictments?) In the past critics would have used words like ‘womanly ...

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