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Little Girl

Patricia Beer, 12 March 1992

Hideous Kinky 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 186 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 241 13179 0
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Eve’s Tattoo 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 194 pp., £8.99, January 1992, 0 7011 3882 3
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A Dubious Legacy 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 272 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 593 02537 7
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... Esther Freud’s Hideous Kinky started its career with two disadvantages. One was the title: it suggests whimsy, from which the book is in fact bracingly free. The phrase is explained and has real validity within the story itself, but should have been kept in its place. The second was the nature of the advance publicity, which seemed to have the bossy intention of providing the clef to the roman ...

Family Life

Penelope Fitzgerald, 25 March 1993

Poet and Dancer 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 199 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 7195 5189 7
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Peerless Flats 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 241 13385 8
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... is an entirely uncautionary tale of urban survival. Lisa is 16. Like the heroine of Hideous Kinky, Esther Freud’s amazing first novel, she has never had any opportunity to try existence in a world without drugs and with somewhere permanent to live. In the last three years she, her mother Marguerite, and her fiendish little brother Max have moved 11 ...

At the Ponds

Alice Spawls, 12 September 2019

... for silence. The Daunt writers describe giving themselves over to something, a kind of sacrifice (Esther Freud: ‘I arrived, fragile and fearful’). In the cold, the heart and lungs slow down, blood vessels contract, and the mind grows pleasurably dull. Unlike the other two swimming ponds, the Ladies’ Pond is completely secluded – a true enclosure ...

Carry up your Coffee boldly

Thomas Keymer: Jonathan Swift, 16 April 2014

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 573 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 16499 2
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Parodies, Hoaxes, Mock Treatises: ‘Polite Conversation’, ‘Directions to Servants’ and Other Works 
by Jonathan Swift, edited by Valerie Rumbold.
Cambridge, 821 pp., £85, July 2013, 978 0 521 84326 3
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Journal to Stella: Letters to Esther Johnson and Rebecca Dingley, 1710-13 
by Jonathan Swift, edited by Abigail Williams.
Cambridge, 800 pp., £85, December 2013, 978 0 521 84166 5
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... and enemies. But he also makes clear that the maxim is there to implicate them, not him. Schadenfreude is the general human condition, not something peculiar to Swift, and about Swift himself the rest of the poem – a long one for him at almost five hundred lines – leaves us little the wiser. There’s no Prelude-like geology of selfhood here, just a ...

Bad Blood

Lorna Sage, 7 April 1994

Monkey’s Uncle 
by Jenny Diski.
Weidenfeld, 258 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 297 84061 4
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... men who turn up in a boat, and are always demanding more to eat and drink and smoke – Marx, Freud and Darwin (again – he is, as we shall see, the real guru in the woodpile). As Jenny the orang-utan says to these rather bewildered guests of our heroine’s imagination, ‘She believes herself to be doomed. Psychologically. Politically. And ...

Poor Boys

Karl Miller, 18 September 1986

In Search of a Past: The Manor House, Amnersfield 1933-1945 
by Ronald Fraser.
Verso, 187 pp., £15, September 1984, 9780860910923
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Growing up in the Gorbals 
by Ralph Glasser.
Chatto, 207 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 7011 3148 9
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... they became conscious when they were young. Ronald Fraser’s book arranges a marriage between Freud and Marx. One law for the rich and another for the poor, as the two systems can be made to seem, are laid down together in a book which commemorates a desertion of the rich for the poor. He had hit on the ‘aim of combining two different modes of enquiry ...

Who Owns Kafka?

Judith Butler, 3 March 2011

... he held on to a substantial number of them until his death in 1968. It was to his secretary Esther Hoffe, with whom he appears to have had an amorous relationship, that Brod bequeathed the manuscripts, and she kept most of them until her own death in 2007 at the age of 101. For the most part Esther did as Max ...

Reading Cure

John Sutherland, 10 November 1988

The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. Vol. IV: 1824-1900 
edited by Walter Houghton, Esther Rhoads Houghton and Jean Harris Slingerland.
Toronto/Routledge, 826 pp., £95, January 1988, 0 7102 1442 1
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Circulation: Defoe, Dickens and the Economies of the Novel 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 148 pp., £27.50, October 1988, 0 333 40542 0
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From Copyright to Copperfield 
by Alexander Welsh.
Harvard, 200 pp., £19.95, December 1987, 0 674 32342 4
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... the Victorians more economically, using the alien and anachronistic insights afforded by Freud, Bakhtin and Foucault. The huge accretion of contemporary materials which the Index has put in order for us remains, one suspects, largely undisturbed. It is certainly not the gateway through which every scholar enters the subject – which is what Houghton ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... Savile Club. During the war he acquired a Raffles-style flat in the Albany. Although he dabbled in Freud and Nietzsche during the 1920s, he was suspicious of highbrows: he had more connections in the West End than in universities or journalism and little feeling for most writing done after about 1918. Eliot, Huxley, Lawrence and Joyce were too ‘painfully ...

A Little Pickle for the Husband

Michael Mason, 1 April 1999

Beeton's Book of Household Management 
by Isabella Beeton.
Southover, 1112 pp., £29.95, November 1998, 9781870962155
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... at every turn, perhaps even after they had been many years in service. Of course young wives, or Esther Summer-son-style dependent relatives, were equally ignorant when they first took up their duties of household management. But they at least had a copy of the book; they read it; and they were the normal conduit by which the knowledge in it reached their ...

I’m an intelligence

Joanna Biggs: Sylvia Plath at 86, 20 December 2018

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. I: 1940-56 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1388 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 0 571 32899 4
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The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. II: 1956-63 
edited by Peter Steinberg and Karen Kukil.
Faber, 1025 pp., £35, September 2018, 978 0 571 33920 4
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... Jar. Could the bright, reassuring, can-do ‘Sivvy’ who wrote to her ‘Dearest Mum’, also be Esther Greenwood, for whom vodka ‘went straight down into my stomach like a sword-swallower’s sword and made me feel powerful and god-like’? After Anne Stevenson’s, Janet Malcolm’s and Jacqueline Rose’s battles to get the archives opened, and the ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... among the sureties and supporters: Tony Benn, Jemima Khan, Bianca Jagger, James Fox and Bella Freud, and the five or so young people I associated with WikiLeaks. We were led up to seats in the gallery they’d saved for friends. As soon as I sat down and looked down at the court I saw Esther Addley of the Guardian. She ...

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