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Saartjie Baartman’s Ghost

Hilary Mantel: The New Apartheid, 20 September 2007

When Bodies Remember: Experiences and Politics of Aids in South Africa 
by Didier Fassin, translated by Amy Jacobs and Gabrielle Varro.
California, 365 pp., £12.95, April 2007, 978 0 520 25027 7
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The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West and the Fight against Aids 
by Helen Epstein.
Viking, 326 pp., £16.99, July 2007, 978 0 670 91356 5
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... the site where the past has made its mark as surely as it has made its mark on the landscape. Helen Epstein is an American molecular biologist who became involved in Aids studies when she went to Uganda in 1993 to work on a vaccine, her role being to determine which sub-types of HIV were prevalent there. Since then, she has visited, studied and ...

Young and Old

John Sutherland, 15 October 1981

Life Stories 
by A.L. Barker.
Hogarth, 319 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 7012 0538 5
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Many Men and Talking Wives 
by Helen Muir.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 7156 1613 7
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Good Behaviour 
by Molly Keane.
Deutsch, 245 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 9780233973326
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A Separate Development 
by Christopher Hope.
Routledge, 199 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7100 0954 2
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From Little Acorns 
by Howard Buten.
Harvester, 156 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7108 0390 7
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Fortnight’s Anger 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 85635 376 0
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... but not brutally. And it has left an interesting bruise to finger and ponder. Reviewers of Helen Muir’s earlier novels have found her tone at once delightful and unsettling. Her narrative moves recklessly fast, always on the edge of an apparently uncontrollable authorial giggle. It’s a style which I find it hard to tune into: but plenty of people ...

Perfectly Human

Jenny Diski: Lillie Langtry and Mrs Vladimir Nabokov, 1 July 1999

Lillie Langtry: Manners, Masks and Morals 
by Laura Beatty.
Chatto, 336 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 85619 513 9
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Véra (Mrs Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage 
by Stacy Schiff.
Random House, 456 pp., $27.95, April 1999, 0 679 44790 3
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... poet’s position and spent a night composing a poem to her on the steps of her house – ‘To Helen, formerly of Troy, now of London’ – and tutored her in Latin and Greek (essential languages for a goddess). But it looks very much as if the plain black dress – and Langtry’s grasp of the nature of style – was the key to her social triumph. When ...


Blake Morrison, 30 June 2011

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp 
by W.H. Davies.
Amberley, 192 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84868 980 0
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... the companionship of Australian Red and Philadelphia Slim for that of Sickert, Balfour, Conrad, Epstein, Huxley, Lady Cunard and Augustus John. In Later Days he portrays himself as a shy outsider among metropolitan bigwigs, afraid of being exposed as a fraud. Patronised as a peasant innocent, aka the Tramp Poet (a title even the British Museum Reading Room ...

On a Chinese Mountain

Frank Kermode, 20 November 1986

The Royal Beasts 
by William Empson.
Chatto, 201 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3084 9
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Essays on Shakespeare 
by William Empson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 521 25577 5
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... most appropriate way of dealing with him would be a little personal violence’) and patronising Epstein. Ludovici was also a feminist. Haffenden provides an interesting note from a diary Empson kept in 1926 which says that despite ‘the grave national crisis’ (the General Strike) what he wants to talk about is Ludovici and his creed of Heterosexual ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... notifying the committee that he had fired them. Among the writers in question: Philip and Julius Epstein and Howard Koch (authors of the screenplay for Casablanca), Irwin Shaw, Albert Maltz, Clifford Odets and Ring Lardner Jr. This surrender occurred at a key moment, Hoberman says, as reports of flying saucers turned oddly epidemic in the summer of 1947. As ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... almost unimaginable now, things have changed so quickly. As recently as 1970 the essayist Joseph Epstein could write the following in Harper’s magazine: Private acceptance of homosexuality, in my experience, is not to be found, even among the most liberal-minded, sophisticated and liberated people. Homosexuality may be the one subject left in America ...

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