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Bristling with Diligence

James Wood: A.S. Byatt, 8 October 2009

The Children’s Book 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 617 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 7011 8389 9
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... will await the inevitable arrival of Wells and Shaw, the Cambridge Neo-Pagans, Rupert Brooke and Frances Cornford, the Cambridge Apostles and so on. (Byatt’s novels always seem destined to visit Cambridge University.) But the book’s emphasis on the plastic arts, on theatre design, the manipulation of puppets and marionettes, and above all on pottery, is ...

Lost in the Forest

Ian Hacking: Who needs the DSM?, 8 August 2013

DSM-5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition 
by the American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Publishing, 947 pp., £97, May 2013, 978 0 89042 555 8
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... attended to the trees (the kinds of disorder recognised in the manual), but few thought about the wood. I want to talk about the object as a whole – about the wood – and will seldom mention particular diagnoses, except when I need an example. Many worries have already been aired. In mid-May an onslaught was delivered by ...

A Form of Showing Off

Anna Vaux, 28 April 1994

A Change of Climate 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 352 pp., £15, March 1994, 0 670 83051 8
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... large house in Norfolk, a farmhouse that has lost its farm, with bicycle sheds and dog kennels and wood huts filled with the detritus of family life. It is the beginning of the Eighties, and Ralph’s world divides broadly into ‘Good Souls’ and ‘Sad Cases’, as in ‘Your Aunt Emma’s giving so-and-so a lift to her drugs clinic in Norwich – she’s a ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative, 8 August 2002

The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... many defended as natural, necessary and ordained by God. In 1854 a family is selling their slave Frances, aged 17, to a dealer in Richmond. Frances is trained as a chambermaid. She does not know that she is to be sold. I could not tell her; I own all her family, and the leave taking would be so distressing that I could ...

Ave, Jeeves!

Emily Wilson: Rom(an) Com, 21 February 2008

Plautine Elements in Plautus 
by Eduard Fraenkel, translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke.
Oxford, 459 pp., £79, November 2006, 0 19 924910 5
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Plautus: ‘Asinaria – The One about the Asses’ 
translated by John Henderson.
Wisconsin, 252 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 299 21994 1
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Terence: The Comedies 
translated by Peter Brown.
Oxford, 338 pp., £9.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 282399 1
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Terence: Comedies 
translated by Frederick Clayton.
Exeter, 290 pp., £45, January 2006, 0 85989 757 5
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... Germanic) English, as Plautine Elements in Plautus. The translators, Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke, have included translations of all quotations from Latin and Greek, as well as an index rerum, an index locorum, and an up-to-date bibliography of Plautine studies. At the time Fraenkel was writing, the study of Greek New Comedy had recently been ...

Exasperating Classics

Patricia Craig, 23 May 1985

Secret Gardens 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 235 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 04 809022 0
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Reading and Righting 
by Robert Leeson.
Collins, 256 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780001844131
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Pipers at the Gates of Dawn 
by Jonathan Cott.
Viking, 327 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80003 1
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... of C.S. Lewis’s distasteful Narnia series, in which a wardrobe gives onto an extraterrestrial wood. The central characters in Lewis’s religious fantasies are a lot of dead children – a motif we might have expected to find discarded by the 1950s. Kingsley, writing in 1862, had used it to better effect. Macdonald himself, in Lilith, invented a country ...

‘Faustus’ and the Politics of Magic

Charles Nicholl, 8 March 1990

Dr Faustus 
by Christopher Marlowe, edited by Roma Gill.
Black, 109 pp., £3.95, December 1989, 0 7136 3231 3
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Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare 
by John Mebane.
Nebraska, 309 pp., £26.95, July 1989, 0 8032 3133 4
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Robert Fludd and the End of the Renaissance 
by William Huffman.
Routledge, 252 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 415 00129 3
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Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England 
by Patrick Curry.
Polity, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 7456 0604 0
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... interest in the psychodynamics of magic, and partly to the historical researches of scholars like Frances Yates, D.P. Walker and Peter French. In Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age, John Mebane offers an inclusive, deeply researched overview of the subject. He examines the many component parts of Renaissance occultism. It was, in the spirit of ...

Wild Bill

Stephen Greenblatt, 20 October 1994

Essays on Renaissance Literature. Vol. II 
by William Empson, edited by John Haffenden.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £35, May 1994, 0 521 44044 0
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... in 1980 and included in the present volume. This essay was at least nominally a review of one of Frances Yates’s studies of the occult, but it served as the occasion for Empson to air a scholarly interest, one might even say obsession, that continued to occupy him until his death in 1984. Empson argued that there was in the 16th century a belief, far more ...

Sublimely Bad

Terry Castle, 23 February 1995

Secresy; or, The Ruin on the Rock 
by Eliza Fenwick, edited by Isobel Grundy.
Broadview, 359 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 1 55111 014 8
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... other heroine of the novel, Caroline Ashburn, first comes across Sibella, she is perched like a ‘Wood Nymph’ on a tree stump, with Nina curled in her lap ‘in an attitude of confidence and affection’. Yet the tiny, sure-footed Nina is as helpful as she is devoted. When the plot veers into melodrama – which is almost right away – the plucky little ...

Toshie Trashed

Gavin Stamp: The Glasgow School of Art Fire, 18 June 2014

... was an artist as well as an architect. With his future wife, Margaret Macdonald, her sister Frances and her future husband, Herbert McNair, he was one of ‘The Four’, responsible for paintings of attenuated female figures with intense faces, and stylised curvilinear decorative swirls. To their critics, their work was the ‘Spook School’. It was ...

What Marlowe would have wanted

Charles Nicholl, 26 November 1987

Faustus and the Censor 
by William Empson, edited by John Henry Jones.
Blackwell, 226 pp., £17.50, September 1987, 0 631 15675 5
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... references – and others would have gone up in the fires that commonly broke out in the crowded wood-built cities. The losses are heaviest among the first wave of playmakers working in London in the late 1580s and early 1590s, the so-called ‘pre-Shakespearean’ period. Not a single play by the sonneteer Thomas Watson remains, though he was described in ...

Homage to Rabelais

M.A. Screech, 20 September 1984

... he fits the rivalries between France and the Holy Roman Empire into the tiny world of castle, wood and ford which could be seen from the windows of his childhood home at La Devinière. (It still can.) His wars are like children’s games: he delighted in games, while seeing most of them as ways of wasting time when extended beyond infancy. Great ...

Enemies of Promise

Angus Calder, 2 March 1989

Breach of Promise: Labour in Power 1964-1970 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 433 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12683 5
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James Maxton 
by Gordon Brown.
Fontana, 336 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 00 637255 4
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Forward! Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988 
edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian Wood.
Polygon, 184 pp., £19.50, January 1989, 0 7486 6001 1
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... from the grave. In some respects the most original and important contribution to Forward! is Frances Wood’s on 1964-79. The author has been a fully engaged Labour activist and conveys some of the pain and confusion which the movement suffered over devolution in the Seventies. Labour’s sketchy ‘National Plan’ had been scuppered by 1966, and ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... America, from New York to Tucson, Arizona, with a spell over Christmas at the Church of St Jane Frances de Chantal in North Hollywood. The Christie’s sale of Marilyn’s relics raised $13,405,785. The Ferragamo ruby shoes were bought for $48,300 by the son of the man who made them, while Lots 51 and 40, the Santa Monica cardigan and the dress from Let’s ...

Paradise Syndrome

Sukhdev Sandhu: Hanif Kureishi, 18 May 2000

Midnight All Day 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 224 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 0 571 19456 7
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... honeysuckle along the back wall or hanging tasteful Indian friezes in a four-storeyed St John’s Wood mansion are the pursuits of reactionaries and manipulative control freaks. The cosmetic is opposed to the ethical. In Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, the only way for Rosie to convey her hatred for her ‘crude, vicious, racist and ignorant’ father – a former ...

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