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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 ...

Dark and Buzzing Looks

Susannah Clapp, 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 ...

Better than literature

Peter Campbell, 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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... the Hollywood shrink and in the fictional characters of American writers from Scott Fitzgerald to Erica Jong. It is an image manifestly different from the one with which the millions of British television viewers, glued weekly to the soap-operatic events taking place in Maybury Hospital, were presented in the person of Dr Edward Roebuck: a recognis ...

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 ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: New words, 1 January 1998

... out how to be hip (a word not found in either edition, but used, according to the SOED, by both Erica Jong and Shiva Naipaul in the mid-20th century). Be very cautious about casually referring to being loved-up to the eyeballs (‘intoxicated by the drug Ecstasy’) to your young people in the hope of gaining inter-generational respect. Also avoid ...

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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... and accurately describes as a ‘life in poverty as America’s most famous banned writer’. As Erica Jong writes in her foreword to Crazy Cock, In New York it was a dishonour to be an unknown writer; in Paris one could write écrivain on one’s passport and hold one’s head high. In New York it was, and still is, assumed that unless you fill up ...

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 ‘Goodbye to All That’: How dare ...

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 famous discussion of European toilets at the beginning of her half-forgotten Fear of Flying, Erica Jong mockingly claims that ‘German toilets are really the key to the horrors of the Third Reich. People who can build toilets like this are capable of anything.’ It is clear that none of these versions can be accounted for in purely utilitarian ...

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 ...

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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