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The Straight and the Bent

Elaine Showalter, 23 April 1992

Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault 
by Jonathan Dollimore.
Oxford, 388 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 19 811225 4
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Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories 
by Diana Fuss.
Routledge, 432 pp., £40, March 1992, 0 415 90236 3
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... politics. Feminist theorists including Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Marjorie Garber and Diana Fuss have called for more fluid work on questions of sexual difference which will address what Butler calls ‘gender trouble’. A number of recent studies focus on the radical potential of figures or practices at the borders of sexual ...

Come along, Alcibiades

John Bayley, 25 January 1996

Terence Rattigan: A Biography 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fourth Estate, 428 pp., £20, October 1995, 1 85702 201 7
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... 1890-1990, the two situation comedies are very similar. Of course, Osborne’s style of making a fuss was a new thing in the theatre; Rattigan’s characters were schooled to keep a stiff upper lip and never make a fuss, nor did they luxuriate in resentment. Their stoic style of suffering had painlessly gratified their ...


Stephen Wall, 12 September 1991

Hidden in the Heart 
by Dan Jacobson.
Bloomsbury, 182 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 0981 6
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A Landing on the Sun 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 670 83932 9
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... we had better say, in view of what happens on her living-room floor, his first encounter – with Diana is lasting, limiting and ultimately lethal. The wife of Rodney Foxborough, a poet he admires and has gone to interview for a student magazine, she is almost twenty years older than he is. (The interview gets recorded later, and is reproduced ...

Poor Hitler

Andrew O’Hagan: Toff Humour, 15 November 2007

The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Fourth Estate, 834 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 84115 790 0
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... it’s all absurd. Even detectives and divorce are amusing if one keeps one’s head. Here’s Diana writing to Nancy while trying to get away from Bryan Guinness: The detectives are extraordinary and just like one would imagine. It is really rather heavenly to feel that they are around – no pickpockets can approach etc. Isn’t it all extremely amusing ...

Cold Shoulders, Short Trousers

Ian Hamilton, 12 March 1992

Will this do? 
by Auberon Waugh.
Century, 288 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7126 3734 6
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Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch: The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper 
edited by Artemis Cooper.
Hodder, 344 pp., £19.99, October 1991, 0 340 53488 5
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... be read ‘in the event of my pre-decease’. Even as Bron penned it, though, Evelyn was telling Diana Cooper that he had no plans to fly out to his stricken son – unless the boy died, of course, in which event he might feel obliged to put in an appearance. The only marks Auberon managed to win from the whole uncomfortable episode were for having been ...

About as Useful as a String Condom

Glen Newey: Bum Decade for the Royals, 23 January 2003

... the ‘Golden’ Jubilee. During the last big snafu concerning the Windsors, after the death of Diana, the main charge against the Royals was ‘aloofness’. All this really amounted to was that they had shown themselves indifferent to the fate of a drama queen whose early death spared us all a lot of tedium. Now, however, the charges include subverting ...

The View from the Passenger Seat

Lorna Sage: Gilbert Adair, 1 January 1998

The Key of the Tower 
by Gilbert Adair.
Secker, 190 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 0 436 20429 0
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... on the heels of the ‘controversial’ remake of Lolita. Lolita the book was 42 this year. The fuss over the film, you might think, only serves to measure our distance from its world. For Lolita was a product of the Fifties, when Dads were ex-servicemen and Moms were homemakers, and normality was advertised on every hoarding and consumed with your ...

Written out of Revenge

Rosemary Hill: Bowen in Love, 9 April 2009

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie Letters and Diaries 1941-73 
edited by Victoria Glendinning, by Judith Robertson.
Simon and Schuster, 489 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 1 84737 213 0
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People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen 
edited by Allan Hepburn.
Edinburgh, 467 pp., £60, November 2008, 978 0 7486 3568 9
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... Sylvia to Elizabeth and back to himself. Urbane, cultivated and witty in company, lunching with Diana Cooper and staying with the Queen at Balmoral, in private he broods on his own timidity, wondering whether he will ever manage to write a novel, escape ‘the womb of self’ and finally, in his fifties, ‘an elderly sex-maniac’, embark on ‘the voyage ...

Every Latest Spasm

Christopher Hitchens, 23 June 1994

A Rebel in Defence of Tradition: The Life and ‘Politics’ of Dwight Macdonald 
by Michael Wreszin.
Basic Books, 590 pp., £17.99, April 1994, 0 465 01739 8
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... attitude towards Eliot and other reactionaries, however, helped to pump up the ridiculous fuss about Macdonald’s film essays, which were widely denounced as anti-semitic. Even after digesting Wreszin’s biographical sketch of Macdonald’s early and mindless attitude to the Jews, I find it impossible to read his notice of Ben Hur and the other ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... of the power couples of the Upper West Side intelligentsia – the junior version of Lionel and Diana Trilling. Kazin, a Commentary contributor going back to 1945, found himself in a bobbing sea of familiar faces but left in a sour funk, fed up with that old gang of his, the unseemliness of it all: The party is deductible, it is given by the corporation for ...

Fraud Squad

Ferdinand Mount: Imposters, 2 August 2007

The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Continuum, 363 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 1 85285 478 2
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A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson 
by Frances Welch.
Short Books, 327 pp., £14.99, February 2007, 978 1 904977 71 1
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The Lost Prince: The Survival of Richard of York 
by David Baldwin.
Sutton, 220 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 7509 4335 2
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... after the Prince Regent had been so horrible to her. We are more likely to think of Princess Diana, who, allowing for weight and age, triggers many of the same responses. Reading about the huge crowds that sang the Claimant to Newgate and greeted him on his release and crowded into Paddington Cemetery for his pauper’s funeral, one cannot help thinking ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... and society women were the first models; more risks could be taken with the actresses. Lady Diana Cooper and Viscountess Maidstone were photographed in contemplation and pearls, but Helen Lyons was captured backlit in a diaphanous white lace dress: as risqué and demure as Diana with the sun behind her legs. Muir has ...

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell, 4 June 1981

The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... third volume of the Letters, speaking about the matter in a typical blend of candour and lack of fuss, but not without all regard for dramatic timing. If Lyttelton did think the Hart-Davis pattern of living startling, he showed the qualities of the 19th-century viewpoint invoked above by concealing the smallest suggestion of surprise. In his acting ...


Neal Ascherson: Scotophobia, 5 April 2007

... of English nationalism and national self-awareness is a familiar subject. It is ten years since ‘Diana Week’ in London – a sea of red and white English flags, with hardly a Union Jack to be seen – confirmed that the St George’s Cross had become the flag of the heart for millions of English families, a symbol of allegiance which had spread far beyond ...

Trying to Make Decolonisation Look Good

Bernard Porter: The End of Empire, 2 August 2007

Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918-68 
by Ronald Hyam.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £17.99, February 2007, 978 0 521 68555 9
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The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 559 pp., August 2007, 978 0 7139 9830 6
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Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain’s Asian Empire 
by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper.
Allen Lane, 673 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9782 8
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... suggests – this is one of his provocations – that maybe they couldn’t see why such a fuss was made about beating natives, because they had all been ‘routinely caned at their public schools and even enjoyed it as sexually exciting’.) This is why Britain’s Declining Empire must be seen as telling – or at least getting to the bottom of ...

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