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Eugene Goodheart

16 March 1989
The company we keep: An Ethics of Fiction 
by Wayne Booth.
California, 485 pp., $29.55, November 1988, 0 520 06203 5
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... ethical assumptions in reading it. In a similar spirit, he engages the feminist challenge to Rabelais’s sexism in Gargantua and Pantagruel, and to Jane Austen’s complicity with male authority in Emma, works he has long loved and admired. The reconsiderations of Rabelais, Austen and Twain, however, are only a part of a larger enterprise to rehabilitate the nearly lost practice of ethical criticism ...

Ghosts

Hugh Haughton

5 December 1985
The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Michael Millgate.
Macmillan, 604 pp., £30, April 1985, 0 333 29441 6
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The Literary Notebooks of Thomas Hardy: Vols I and II 
edited by Lennart Björk.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £35, May 1985, 0 333 36777 4
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Emma​ Hardy’s Diaries 
edited by Richard Taylor.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 216 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 0 904790 21 5
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. V: 1914-1919 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 357 pp., £22.50, May 1985, 0 19 812622 0
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy, Vol. III 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 390 pp., £32.50, June 1985, 0 19 812784 7
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Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England 1660-1900 
by K.D.M. Snell.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 24548 6
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Thomas Hardy 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 547 pp., £12.95, June 1984, 0 19 254177 3
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... and family background, like Ethelberta’s among the labouring classes of Dorset. It is not only his private life that Hardy keeps under wraps – we hear next to nothing of his unhappy marriage with Emma, for example, or his recurrent infatuations with pretty literary women, or the effect of his mentor Horace Moule’s suicide at Queen’s College, Cambridge; there’s no mention of his mother’s ...

Counting weapons

Rudolf Peierls

5 March 1981
Britain and Nuclear Weapons 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Papermac, 160 pp., £3.25, September 1980, 0 333 30511 6
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Countdown: Britain’s Strategic Forces 
by Stewart Menual.
Hale, 188 pp., £8.25, October 1980, 0 7091 8592 8
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The War Machine 
by James Avery Joyce.
Quartet, 210 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 7043 2254 4
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Protest and Survive 
edited by E.P. Thompson and Dan Smith.
Penguin, 262 pp., £1.50, October 1980, 0 14 052341 3
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... of us are ready to work hard, but how is it done? Protest and Survive (a title inspired by the Civil Defence Pamphlet Protect and Survive) is a collection of essays, edited by E. P. Thompson and Dan Smith, with emphasis on the effect of nuclear weapons on Europe, and particularly on Britain, and on current statements dealing with Civil Defence. An impressive article by Alva Myrdal discusses the ...

Menaces and Zanies

Nicholas Spice: Hanif Kureishi

10 April 2008
Something to Tell You 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 345 pp., £16.99, March 2008, 978 0 571 20977 4
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... like a hallucination, hovering somewhere between us and the page. The hand has been offered to us before we or the poem know it. A rather less dramatic example of the technique is the moment in Emma when Harriet Smith, disabused of her infatuation with Mr Elton, casts the pathetic relics of that love (a bit of ‘court plaister’ and the stub of a pencil) into the fire: ‘But, Harriet, is it ...

Happy Bunnies

John Pemble: Cousin Marriage

25 February 2010
Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 296 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 674 03589 8
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... class. The British ruling class is long since dead. Its day was over when neoliberal think tanks dethroned liberal-humanist intellectuals and nobody was any longer interested in how to combine Adam Smith with the Bible, or the rule of the many with the wisdom of the few. Yet literature gives back what history has erased. In fact literature – Galsworthy, Woolf, Waugh, Wodehouse, Nancy Mitford ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... Literature will give her roughly one hundred and twenty additional male novelists in the period from 1660 – this is omitting foreign authors, pseudonymous characters like ‘Captain Alexander Smith’, and others whose masculinity may be nominal. It would be rash to expect all these to qualify for Spender’s epithet ‘good’. But if Ann Emelinda Skinn and M. Peddle (two of Dale’s hundred ...

The money’s still out there

Neal Ascherson: The Scottish Empire

6 October 2011
To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £25, August 2011, 978 0 7139 9744 6
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The Inner Life of Empires: An 18th-Century History 
by Emma​ Rothschild.
Princeton, 483 pp., £24.95, June 2011, 978 0 691 14895 3
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... Modern Scots feel that such relics have little to do with them. They are wrong, but who can blame them? Henry Raeburn’s ‘John Johnstone, Betty Johnstone and Miss Wedderburn’ (c.1790-95). Emma Rothschild has a written a strange, immensely thoughtful book which at first glance ought to complement Devine’s work. But it does nothing of the sort, attending instead to the history of ...

Female Heads

John Bayley

27 October 1988
Woman to Woman: Female Friendship in Victorian Fiction 
by Tess Cosslett.
Harvester, 211 pp., £29.95, July 1988, 0 7108 1015 6
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Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century 
by John Mullan.
Oxford, 261 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 19 812865 7
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The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney. Vol. I: 1768-1773 
edited by Lars Troide.
Oxford, 353 pp., £45, June 1988, 9780198125815
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... story would be one of silence in the face of vulgar intrusion, disguised as feminine solidarity, for women in these fictions do tend to take over each other – the archetype would be Jane Austen’s Emma taking over Harriet Smith – as if the maternal role had in this new context got out of hand. ‘George Egerton’, the intense but somewhat clumsy author of an intriguingly named novel, The Spell ...

Outside the text

Marilyn Butler

19 December 1985
The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 352 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 19 811730 2
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The Politics of Language: 1791-1819 
by Olivia Smith.
Oxford, 269 pp., £19.50, December 1984, 0 19 812817 7
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... the profession ‘now feels the need for a new historicism in order to scrutinise the values, interests and powers served by the proliferation of hermeneutic techniques’. Jerome McGann and Olivia Smith are two good critics, both Americans publishing in England, who fall in with Mitchell’s injunction to ‘historicise’. Each regards a work of the past as both an individual literary performance ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning

9 February 2006
Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... Hamish Miles, soon became her lover. But she was unlucky in her early choices. Miles, who was married with a young family, died of a brain tumour in 1937. Manning’s husband from 1939, R.D. (Reggie) Smith, a British Council teacher and later an academic and BBC radio producer, drank a lot and was a compulsive, if helpfully complaisant, philanderer. Among other men she was attracted to, the novelist ...

Looking for a Way Up

Rosemary Hill: Roy Strong’s Vanities

25 April 2013
Self-Portrait as a Young Man 
by Roy Strong.
Bodleian, 286 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 1 85124 282 5
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... of privet hedges, crazy paving and hanging baskets, he was one of three sons of George and Mabel Strong. George was a travelling salesman selling hats along the south coast for the firm of Ayres & Smith. He had served in the First World War, and the outbreak of the Second all but ruined him when Ayres & Smith turned their production over to military headgear. He persisted nevertheless, setting off ...

Her pen made the first move

Ruth Bernard Yeazell

7 July 1994
Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 418 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 9780701161378
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Vintage, 285 pp., £6.99, March 1994, 0 09 942461 4
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The Sickroom in Victorian Fiction: The Art of Being Ill 
by Miriam Bailin.
Cambridge, 169 pp., £30, April 1994, 0 521 44526 4
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... and in those to Heger she was effectively testing the prototype of her future hero. Gordon also speculates in a similar vein about the later and sunnier correspondence with the publisher, George Smith, whose evident pleasure in Brontë’s letters may partly have arisen, she thinks, from the artist’s capacity imaginatively to transform him with her pen, recreating him in a form cleverly designed ...

Costa del Pym

Nicholas Spice

4 July 1985
Crampton Hodnet 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 333 39129 2
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Foreign Land 
by Jonathan Raban.
Harvill, 352 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 00 222918 8
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Black Marina 
by Emma​ Tennant.
Faber, 157 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780571134670
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... develop a literature of protest and political parable. Last month, two novels appeared which suggest that this process may already be under way. Jonathan Raban’s Foreign Land and Black Marina by Emma Tennant are, from the formal standpoint, very different kinds of novel, but they share, quite strikingly, an un-English pre-occupation with the problem for the individual of belonging in the modern ...

How to die

John Sutherland

13 February 1992
Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying 
by Derek Humphry.
Hemlock Society, 192 pp., $16.95, April 1991, 0 9606030 3 4
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... his open mouth. Literature might have been poorer by an operatic gesture but a lot of young men would have been spared needless agony. An equally famous suicide in literature is similarly botched. Emma Bovary steals arsenic from the pharmacist’s locked cupboard with the vague sense that as a rat poison it must be fast and certain. The result is a day-long agony during which she vomits blood and ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver

19 June 1986
All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... universe where food and cooking do not need to be framed in externally observed, Dickensian set-pieces: their crucial role in her characters’ lives can be disclosed by passing reference. Emma is full of food, though scarcely a dish is described – apart from the egg whose soft boiling so perfectly delineates the character of Mr Woodhouse. We know exactly how Mrs Elton would have behaved ...

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