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Collapse of the Sofa Cushions

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 24 March 1994

Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics 
by Isobel Armstrong.
Routledge, 545 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 415 03016 1
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The Woman Reader: 1837-1914 
by Kate Flint.
Oxford, 366 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 19 811719 1
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... fascination with the Romantics has brought the Victorian poets back into critical fashion. Isobel Armstrong’s Victorian Poetry represents a massive attempt to alter the balance. The break between the Victorians and the Modernists, Armstrong contends, is largely an illusion, a fiction constructed by the later ...


James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... category that bric-à-brac allows. His busted prose is a hospitable dustbin for these concerns. Isobel Armstrong, usually reliable, has an odd essay about all the ways in which Angela Carter is not like Anita Brookner; trapped by this initial division, her piece becomes a stutter of differences, as she grinds her chalk in one hand and smoothes her ...


Philip Davis: Thomas Arnold’s Apostasies, 15 April 2004

A Victorian Wanderer: The Life of Thomas Arnold the Younger 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 274 pp., £25, July 2003, 0 19 925741 8
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... are radically different from those of the Modernists or postmodernists: the difference, as Isobel Armstrong puts it, ‘is that the Victorians see them as problems, the Modernists do not’. At any rate, one of the best ways of getting inside those essentially religious problems, in historical if not personal terms, is to look at some of the great ...

Learning My Lesson

Marina Warner, 19 March 2015

... turning into Potemkin villages where students are paying for the privilege of figuring themselves. IsobelArmstrong has remarked that the best way to defend the humanities is to practise them. From my past studies, I would like to remember Dante the pilgrim, who, after climbing the mountain of Purgatory, reaches the ...

Had I been born a hero

Helen Deutsch: Female poets of the eighteenth century, 21 September 2006

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 514 pp., £43.50, January 2006, 0 8018 8169 2
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... her passionate and wide-ranging study of 18th-century women’s poetry, Paula Backscheider quotes Isobel Armstrong’s framing of such questions in a suggestively entitled essay, ‘The Gush of the Feminine’ (1995): We have had two hundred years to discover a discourse of and strategies for reading male poets. They belong to a debate, a dialectic; we ...

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