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Elaine Feinstein, 18 April 1996

... It was February in Provence and the local market sold goat’s cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves and thick, painted pottery. The stalls of dark check shirts were the kind you used to wear, and we began to see you: burly, bearded, handsome as Holbein’s Wyatt, looking into the eyes of a girl or jumping up from the brasserie table to buy truffles from a street vendor ...

Bert’s Needs

Patricia Beer, 25 March 1993

Lawrence’s Women: The Intimate Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Elaine Feinstein.
HarperCollins, 275 pp., £18, January 1993, 0 00 215364 5
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... The modish title of Elaine Feinstein’s excellent book need not make readers fear that they are being lured to yet another study of the great man himself. Lawrence’s Women really is about the women in his life. They are not just lining the route. Neither should readers suspect that the word ‘intimate’ in the subtitle means that they are going to be told more about Lawrence’s sex life than they wish to know ...

Tsvetaeva’s Turn

Simon Karlinsky, 12 November 1987

A Captive Lion: The Life of Marina Tsvetayeva 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 287 pp., £15.95, February 1987, 0 09 165900 0
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The Selected Poems of Marina Tsvetayeva 
translated by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 108 pp., £6.95, February 1987, 0 09 165931 0
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... The Woman, her World and her Poetry, was published by Cambridge in 1985, and now we have Elaine Feinstein’s A Captive Lion (the title comes from the poet’s description of herself in her poem ‘Homesickness’). This is the first biography written by someone who cannot read Tsvetaeva’s poetry in the original and had to have the sources on ...


Stephen Bann, 5 July 1984

Time in a Red Coat 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 249 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2804 6
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Harland’s Half-Acre 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 230 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2737 6
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The Border 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 113 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 09 156320 8
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... the literary text itself. Where David Malouf shows us an Australian artist starting from scratch, Elaine Feinstein chooses Sydney as the faraway vantage-point from which the elderly European exile can reflect upon the tangled skein of loyalties which was cut when she left the Old World. Malouf takes pains to introduce a minor but undeniably powerful ...

Cambridge Theatre

Donald Davie, 19 August 1982

by Sue Lenier.
Oleander Press, 80 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 9780906672044
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Collected Poems 
by Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 351 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 10573 4
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by Clive Wilmer.
Carcanet, 63 pp., £3.25, June 1982, 0 85635 359 0
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... University of Warwick (‘no doubt of the power ... at the acute cutting edge of feeling’); not Elaine Feinstein, from Cambridge (‘the talent is unmistakable’). The truth is that Swansongs should never have been published. As much can be said of many first collections of what offer themselves as poems, and in such cases the merciful way is to ...

Two Hares and a Priest

Patricia Beer: Pushkin, 13 May 1999

by Elizabeth Feinstein.
Weidenfeld, 309 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 297 81826 0
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... Who do you think will close the door after you? Pushkin?’ The question, which Elaine Feinstein quotes in her introduction to this excellent biography, is one which apparently might still be asked by a Russian mother of a careless child. No British mother would say anything like it, if only because she could not think of a figure with comparable evocative power: writers here are hardly household names ...

Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... Kornei Chukovsky did, triumphantly.Poetry by Ruth Fainlight, Ted Hughes, Blok; more fiction, by Elaine Feinstein, John Sladek, Tim Owens; some cheerfully itchy artwork by Pamela Zoline, Rolf Brandt, and others; so much accomplishment, so much mere febrility. It’s unamiable, not to be ignored, and profoundly unsettling, like the ambiguous menu in John ...

On not liking Tsvetaeva

Clarence Brown, 8 September 1994

Marina Tsvetaeva: Poetics of Appropriation 
by Michael Makin.
Oxford, 355 pp., £40, January 1994, 0 19 815164 0
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by Viktoria Schweitzer, translated by Robert Chandler, H.T. Willetts and Peter Norman.
Harvill, 400 pp., £20, December 1993, 0 00 272053 1
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... of Aphrodite’. Her prose is collected under the rubric A Captive Spirit; her best translator, Elaine Feinstein, took a line of hers, ‘A captive lion’, as the title of a fine biography. Tsvetaeva wrote like a man. Now that I’ve written it twice, it seems less scary. She wrote like a violent man, enraged by captivity, as her best chroniclers ...


John Sutherland, 4 March 1982

The Survivors 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 316 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 09 145850 1
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Helliconia Spring 
by Brian Aldiss.
Cape, 361 pp., £6.95, February 1982, 0 224 01843 4
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The Great Fire of London 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 169 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 241 10704 0
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A Loss of Heart 
by Robert McCrum.
Hamish Hamilton, 282 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 241 10705 9
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... In spring last year no less than five of W.H. Smith’s ‘top ten’ titles were in the genre. Feinstein has clearly drawn from its current vitality, although she might prefer comparison with Mann and Lawrence rather than Howard Fast and Alex Haley. But whatever their literary elevation, these sagas tend to conform to the same narrative movement. At the ...

Learning to speak

Gay Clifford, 21 February 1980

Gya/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism 
by Mary Daly.
Women’s Press, 485 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7043 2829 1
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The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 719 pp., £15.75, October 1980, 0 300 02286 7
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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Margaret Dickie Uroff.
Illinois, 235 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 252 00734 4
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Women Writing and Writing about Women 
edited by Mary Jacobus.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 85664 745 4
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... so vividly by these writers. Much of the material will be familiar to readers of Ellen Moers and Elaine Showalter (and the writing is sometimes repetitious), yet it will be useful in showing inexperienced or blinkered readers the existence and nature of a female literary tradition. Sylvia Plath’s best late poetry often has the voice of the rebellious ...


Walter Nash, 9 November 1989

The Mezzanine 
by Nicholson Baker.
Granta, 135 pp., £10.95, September 1989, 0 14 014201 0
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The Memoirs of Lord Byron 
by Robert Nye.
Hamish Hamilton, 215 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 241 12873 0
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All you need 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 219 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 09 173574 2
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The woman who talked to herself 
by A.L. Barker.
Hutchinson, 186 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 09 174060 6
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by Rose Tremain.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 241 12695 9
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... of course. The point of view of the woman speaking very much as she finds is what we are given in Elaine Feinstein’s All you need and A.L. Barker’s The woman who talked to herself, two lovely, sly, sad, comic accounts of depressed housewifery. Feinstein’s story is the triumphant tale of Nell Bolton – ‘Little ...
... physical and an emotional sense an abuse of Lisa. Some reviewers kept cool enough to notice this, Elaine Feinstein remarking that this gratuitous association of sexual and literal impaling served ‘to trivialise horror to the point of barminess’; and Ms Antoinette Burton, in a letter to Time Out, exposed the inevitable implication of Thomas’s ...

Made in Heaven

Frank Kermode, 10 November 1994

Frieda Lawrence 
by Rosie Jackson.
Pandora, 240 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 9780044409151
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The Married Man: A Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Brenda Maddox.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 631 pp., £20, August 1994, 1 85619 243 1
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by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 493 pp., £60, August 1994, 0 521 38455 9
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Twilight in Italy and Other Essays 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Paul Eggert.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £55, August 1994, 0 521 26888 5
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... of the way female sexuality has been constructed in literary history’. It is true that Elaine Feinstein, a victim of fashion, dares to describe Frieda as overweight, that Leavis’s account of her might be a touch xenophobic, that Keith Sagar calls her ‘amoral, disorderly, wasteful, utterly helpless in the house, lying in bed late, lounging ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Abse, Denise Levertov, Peter Red-grove, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gillian Clarke, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Elaine Feinstein are all variously represented, opening out the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties as a time of diversity and imaginative enterprise. One poet who appears in neither book, and who surely exemplifies not only the ‘democracy’ but the ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... of which had already been revealed by Emma Tennant in her memoir, Burnt Diaries (1999), and by Elaine Feinstein in her biography of Hughes from 2001. Like his hero Robert Graves, Hughes tirelessly pursued the White Goddess, or the Goddess of Complete Being as he called her in his study of Shakespeare, both in his imagination and in the forms that she ...

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