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In Praise of Student-Teacher Attraction

Cristina Nehring: Francine Prose, 29 November 2001

Blue Angel 
by Francine Prose.
Allison and Busby, 314 pp., £12.99, June 2001, 0 7490 0580 7
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... Theodore Swenson regrets his virtues. The protagonist of Francine Prose’s novel has been a popular creative writing professor for twenty years, but he has never – not once – slept with a student. Most of the time he attributes this to his love for his wife: ‘His marriage meant everything to him. That’s what he imagined telling admiring students if it ever came to that ...

Who’s under the desk?

Siddhartha Deb: James Lasdun’s Novel, 7 March 2002

The Horned Man 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 195 pp., £10.99, February 2002, 0 224 06217 4
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... tenure difficulties has been explored with varying degrees of insight by writers as different as Francine Prose, Philip Roth, James Hynes and even Jonathan Franzen in the opening pages of The Corrections. The Horned Man, however, is concerned with the campus only up to a point: its world is not self-enclosed, and can hardly be so, set as the college is ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blue Jasmine’, 24 October 2013

Blue Jasmine 
directed by Woody Allen.
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... pretend very successfully to refuse this nature, and Allen is going out of his way to exploit it. Francine Prose thinks there is a deep misogyny in this film, and has written eloquently about it. She may be right, if misogyny is the name for what drives a movie that is interested only in its female characters – the sister too (wonderfully played by ...

On high heels up Vesuvius

Anita Brookner, 21 July 1994

Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet – Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert’s Muse 
by Francine du Plessix Gray.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, July 1994, 0 241 13256 8
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... entirely wilful and implicit with the grandiosity of the child laying claim to his domain. Francine du Plessix Gray, in this wildly partisan and thoroughly enjoyable biography of Colet, whom she attempts to reinstate as a female icon and ‘yet another woman whose memory has been erased by the caprices of men’, makes many claims for her ...

At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... threat, and probably about much else, makes me more rather than less irritated by this kind of prose. If it’s a ‘quibble’ to dispute the quality of acting or photography, then it’s a quibble to argue over the merits of Cimino and da Palma, as Wood does for page upon page. The habit of underlining ordinary words as a means of imparting a false sense ...


Nicholas Spice, 15 March 1984

The Fetishist, and Other Stories 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 00 221440 7
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My Aunt Christina, and Other Stories 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 575 03256 1
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Mr Bedford and the Muses 
by Gail Godwin.
Heinemann, 229 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 434 29751 8
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Alexandra Freed 
by Lisa Zeidner.
Cape, 288 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 224 02158 3
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The Coffin Tree 
by Wendy Law-Yone.
Cape, 195 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 224 02963 0
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... underwear, the trauma of his wedding night, his ‘adultery’ with the mauve satin bra of Mlle Francine, cashier at the Majestic Cinema, and the catastrophe of his life’s drama: his ‘rape’ of a black nylon suspender belt glimpsed fleetingly in the Paris Metro at the end of a Christmas shopping expedition squandered in the ecstatic purchase of ...

Losing the Light

Michael Wood: Memories of Camus, 19 August 2010

by Albert Camus.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €18.50, February 2010, 978 2 07 012927 0
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Albert Camus: Solitaire et Solidaire 
by Catherine Camus.
Lafon, 208 pp., £39.90, December 2009, 978 2 7499 1087 1
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Albert Camus: Elements of a Life 
by Robert Zaretsky.
Cornell, 200 pp., £16.50, March 2010, 978 0 8014 4805 8
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Albert Camus: Fils d’Alger 
by Alain Vircondelet.
Fayard, 396 pp., €19.90, January 2010, 978 2 213 63844 7
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... the threat, perhaps even make it part of the glamour, part of the flourish. In his non-fictional prose Camus is the man who comes through, finds resources, defeats despair. He returns to Tipasa, in a famous essay bearing that title (‘Retour à Tipasa’, also in L’Eté), touches base with the Roman ruins and the sunlight and sea of his native ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip Roth: The Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip Roth: A Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... career. In 1996, Philip Roth, the lean fireballer who had long been the Sandy Koufax of American prose, executed a strategic withdrawal from the world and took refuge in the hushed bosom of his 150-acre Connecticut estate. Previous withdrawals into the protective bubble of privacy and hard work had been tactical, provisional. But just because you have a ...

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