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No Fear of Fanny

Marilyn Butler

20 November 1980
Fanny 
by Erica Jong.
Granada, 496 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 246 11427 4
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The Heroine’s Text 
by Nancy Miller.
Columbia, 185 pp., £10, July 1980, 0 231 04910 2
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... Erica Jong’s Fanny has had a long gestation. In 1961, as an undergraduate, she was taught by the late Professor James L. Clifford, Johnson’s biographer, who had the admirable policy of inviting his class to imitate an 18th-century author instead of writing yet another academic paper on him. At the time, Ms Jong came up with a mock epic in heroic couplets in the manner of Pope, and a novella in the style of Henry Fielding ...
1 October 1987
Serenissima: A Novel of Venice 
by Erica Jong.
Bantam, 225 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 593 01365 4
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Her Mother’s Daughter 
by Marilyn French.
Heinemann, 756 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 434 27200 0
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The Wedding of Jayanthi Mandel 
by Sara Banerji.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 575 03984 1
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... When William Shakespeare kisses the heroine of Erica Jong’s novel, he does so ‘with molten sweetness’. When he goes to bed with her, Jessica Pruitt is ‘caught up in a sort of natural disaster ... It was as if meteorites showered the earth.’ This is new even to Ms Pruitt, who is accustomed to feeling her ‘silk panties moisten’, and given to referring darkly to ‘those other, lower lips ...
23 April 1992
Native Tongue 
by Carl Hiaasen.
Macmillan, 325 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 9780333568293
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... erotic scripts. The epilogue tells that she has published in the New Yorker and been praised by Erica Jong. On Hiaasen’s dust-jackets the publishers quote P.J. O’Rourke: ‘Better than literature.’ It is well put. Literature does not eat up plot as fast as this. In Skin Tight Mick Stranahan arrives at his little house, stilted up over the shallow ...

Neurotic Health

Michael Shepherd

17 December 1981
Becoming Psychiatrists 
by Donald Light.
Norton, 429 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 393 01168 2
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... In April 1979 a cover-story in Time Magazine, always a sensitive indicator of American public opinion, was entitled ‘Psychiatry on the Couch’. The verdict was unequivocal, even though expressed in the form of a mock-clinical formulation:   History: European-born. After sickly youth in the US, travelled to Vienna and returned as Dr Freud’s Wunderkind ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: New words

1 January 1998
...  ...

Sisters

John Sutherland

4 June 1981
Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... from the male sex and with it ‘a desolate sense of triumph’. In one sense, like the fiction of Erica Jong, this novel trades on the post-Portnoy freedom to open up life’s dirty little secrets. It compares interestingly in this respect with the pre-Portnoy, and much more reserved, My friend says it’s bulletproof by Penelope Mortimer. But Tit for ...

How long?

Hilary Mantel

27 February 1992
The Literary Companion to Sex: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry 
edited by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 415 pp., £18, February 1992, 1 85619 127 3
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The Love Quest: A Sexual Odyssey 
by Anne Cumming.
Peter Owen, 200 pp., £15.50, November 1991, 9780720608359
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... puts it in her introduction, ‘everything from bestiality to vibrators’. And, predictably, Erica Jong; and Lady Chatterley enjoying in Mellor’s iron bedstead ‘such a clean passion’; and Alexander Portnoy huddled behind a billboard, violating a piece of raw liver on his way to his barmitzvah lesson. On the evidence here, since women gained ...

Pick the small ones

Marina Warner: Girls Are Rubbish

17 February 2005
Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World 
by Mineke Schipper.
Yale, 422 pp., £35, April 2004, 0 300 10249 6
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... and her crew of investigators fast behind (they include Kate Millett, purser; Mary Daly, doctor; Erica Jong, navigator). Soon, the whole group is making earnest inquiry of the only untouched indigenous individuals they will ever have the good fortune to question, for Dorinda and Hippolito have no knowledge of custom, opinion, power and sexual mores in ...

Indoor Raincoat

Lavinia Greenlaw: Joy Division

22 April 2015
So This Is Permanence: Joy Division Lyrics and Notebooks 
by Ian Curtis, edited by Deborah Curtis and Jon Savage.
Faber, 304 pp., £27, October 2014, 978 0 571 30955 9
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... called The Knights of Bushido, which was about Japanese atrocities. Another was Fear of Flying by Erica Jong.’ Ian was a scholarship boy who won prizes for divinity and history, wore nail polish and borrowed his sister’s fun-fur jacket. He took Deborah to hear David Bowie and Lou Reed, and read her Oscar Wilde, Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn. He showed her ...

Tongue breaks

Emily Wilson: Sappho

8 January 2004
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho 
by Anne Carson.
Virago, 397 pp., £12.99, November 2003, 1 84408 081 1
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The Sappho History 
by Margaret Reynolds.
Palgrave, 311 pp., £19.99, May 2003, 0 333 97170 1
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Sappho's Leap 
by Erica Jong.
Norton, 320 pp., $24.95, May 2003, 0 393 05761 5
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... an emblem of the comeuppance awaiting any woman who is too intellectual and too highly sexed. Erica Jong’s latest novel, Sappho’s Leap, corrects the legend by describing a Sappho who is unharmed by her various sexual adventures, which include a zipless fuck with a toy-boy called Phaon. She falls from the rock almost by accident, survives, and ...

Hormone Wars

A. Craig Copetas

23 April 1992
Crazy Cock 
by Henry Miller.
HarperCollins, 202 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 00 223943 4
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The Happiest Man Alive 
by Mary Dearborn.
HarperCollins, 368 pp., £18.50, July 1991, 0 00 215172 3
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... consummately humiliated the Buffalo Bills in the 1992 Superbowl, I unfortunately asked a fellow American, an editor who has lived in Paris for ten years, to join a group of men and women for a beer, place a few bets, and watch the game with us live on Canal+. ‘Football is a most distasteful sport,’ sneered the America...

The Real Thing!

Julian Barnes: Visions of Vice

17 December 2015
Splendeurs et misères: Images de la prostitution 1850-1910 
Musée d’Orsay, until 17 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Grand Palais, until 11 January 2016Show More
Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9 February 2016 to 15 May 2016Show More
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... were republished in ‘une édition féministe de Claudine Herrmann’. In a recent interview, Erica Jong announced that Le Brun (whose pictures she first saw with her mother) might be the subject of her next novel. If this is a slightly alarming possibility, it also confirms how the painter has for some time been better known in the States than in ...

Knee-Deep

Slavoj Žižek: Leftist Platitudes

2 September 2004
Free World: Why a Crisis of the West Reveals the Opportunity of Our Time 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 308 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 7139 9764 8
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... the hole is at the back, i.e. shit is supposed to disappear as quickly as possible. Finally, the American (Anglo-Saxon) toilet presents a synthesis, a mediation between these opposites: the toilet basin is full of water, so that the shit floats in it, visible, but not to be inspected. No wonder that in the famous discussion of European toilets at the beginning ...

Diary

Jonathan Raban: I’m for Obama

20 March 2008
... by Gloria Steinem (‘Why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one?’), and Erica Jong (‘If I have to watch another great American woman thrown in the dustbin of history to please the patriarchy, I’ll move to Canada’), along with a grand tirade by Robin Morgan, a reprise of her 1970 essay ...

Obama v. Clinton: A Retrospective

Eliot Weinberger: A Tale of Two Candidates

3 July 2008
... Jesse Jackson compared Barack Obama’s victory to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Erica Jong compared Hillary Clinton’s defeat to watching Joan of Arc burning at the stake. Obama was in St Paul, Minnesota, pointedly in the very arena where the Republicans will hold their convention in September, at times barely audible over the nearly ...

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