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Jacqueline Rose: My Evening with Farage, 23 October 2013

... I dreamed I was at an event to remember Frank Kermode and then found myself in the dark basement of a London restaurant, or rather a deep cellar adjoining a basement in which some kind of political party seemed to be taking place. Although it was hard to see and even harder to hear, the figure of Nigel Farage could be glimpsed standing in a corner at the far side of the gathering ...

At the Donmar

Jacqueline Rose, 4 December 2014

... In the latest Coors Light Ice Bar cinema advertisement, Jean-Claude Van Damme slices through enormous ice blocks with his bare hands and shatters them with a single thrust of his legs. Perhaps it was because I saw the ad within 24 hours of Phyllida Lloyd’s extraordinary all-female production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, which ends its sell-out London run on 29 November, that the play struck me as an object lesson in masculinity for our times ...

Undone, Defiled, Defaced

Jacqueline Rose, 19 October 1995

Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography 
by Jan Marsh.
Cape, 634 pp., £25, December 1994, 0 224 03585 1
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... One of the problems for right-wing promoters of ideal family life is that there is no way of predicting its outcome. It is as if those who confidently assert that absent fathers spell delinquency for the children, inadequate mothers addiction, divorce an incapacity to hold onto relationships or to love in a sustained way, never stop to ask why it is that the most stable and long-lasting of family unions can produce offspring who run wild, turn to drugs, contract out of loving, who seem, often perversely and inexplicably, to be committed to the most extreme forms of gratifying and/or punishing themselves ...

Entryism

Jacqueline Rose: ‘Specimen Days’, 22 September 2005

Specimen Days 
by Michael Cunningham.
Fourth Estate, 308 pp., £14.99, August 2005, 0 00 715605 7
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... At the centre of Michael Cunningham’s new novel, in the second of its three tales, Cat, a black woman police investigator in New York, has the job of receiving and recording the calls of people threatening to blow themselves and others to pieces. Only because these deranged stories have become too familiar does she miss the one who really means it, a young boy, who, without forewarning or apparent motive, goes up to a stranger in Central Park, embraces him and explodes ...

Deadly Embrace

Jacqueline Rose: Suicide bombers, 4 November 2004

My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing 
by Christoph Reuter, translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby.
Princeton, 246 pp., £15.95, May 2004, 0 691 11759 4
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Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers 
by Barbara Victor.
Robinson, 321 pp., £8.99, April 2004, 1 84119 937 0
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... All suicides kill other people. However isolated the moment, suicide is also always an act of cruelty. Anyone left behind after someone close to them commits, or even attempts, suicide is likely to spend much of the rest of their life wondering whether they themselves have, or should have, survived. Suicide is rarely the singular, definitive act it appears to be ...

Corkscrew in the Neck

Jacqueline Rose: Bad Summer Reading, 9 September 2015

The Girl on the Train 
by Paula Hawkins.
Doubleday, 320 pp., £12.99, January 2015, 978 0 85752 231 3
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Gone Girl 
by Gillian Flynn.
Weidenfeld, 512 pp., £8.99, September 2014, 978 1 78022 822 8
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... There seems​ to be something about having the word ‘girl’ in the title of a book that guarantees huge sales. First, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, which I – like many readers, I assume – couldn’t put down, but which on reflection I found deeply repellent (more than one or two critics have concurred). Apparently the film is even worse, as in, even more misogynist, making the novel seem retrospectively almost progressive ...

From the Inside out

Jacqueline Rose: Eimear McBride, 21 September 2016

The Lesser Bohemians 
by Eimear McBride.
Faber, 313 pp., £16.99, September 2016, 978 0 571 32785 0
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... What​ might be the relationship between a truncated sentence and a truncated life? What drives syntax askew, makes language stall completely or spill over its proper borders, mess with itself? We have become used to thinking of modernism as an early 20th-century European crisis of representation provoked by the collapse of empires and impending war, when the seemingly fixed barriers of class, gender and racial privilege started to implode ...

‘This is not a biography’

Jacqueline Rose: Sylvia Plath, 22 August 2002

... because it is internalised in such a vulnerable way in the sexual identities of the children. Ms Rose will surely agree with this. After all, there are still countries where speculation about somebody’s mother’s sexual life is grounds for homicide.’ To which he adds: ‘Ms Rose thought that she was writing a book ...

What more could we want of ourselves!

Jacqueline Rose: Rosa Luxemburg, 16 June 2011

The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg 
edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza, translated by George Shriver.
Verso, 609 pp., £25, February 2011, 978 1 84467 453 4
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... of a reader of her work by Duke University Press and of this essay, Paul Myerscough interviewed Jacqueline Rose in front of an audience at the London Review Bookshop. An audio recording of the interview can be found here. We live in revolutionary times. I cannot imagine now what it would have been like to be thinking about Rosa Luxemburg if the ...

Agents of Their Own Abuse

Jacqueline Rose: The Treatment of Migrant Women, 10 October 2019

... at Europe’s door are its ghosts (exactly the return of the repressed). In 1994, the lawyers Jacqueline Bhabha and Sue Shutter described the dire record on migration of ‘Fortress Europe’: 1.3 million refugees were living in Europe at a time when there were two million in Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world. In May 1993, the German ...

‘J’accuse’: Dreyfus in Our Times

Jacqueline Rose: A Lecture, 10 June 2010

... important lesson to be learned from the Dreyfus affair. This is an adapted version of a lecture Jacqueline Rose delivered on 21 April. A video of the event is available ...

The Cult of Celebrity

Jacqueline Rose, 20 August 1998

... A passion for celebrity is not something one is meant to talk about. There are worlds, or rather circles, where, if you do, it is assumed that what you are really claiming for yourself is a type of intellectual slumming. If, for example, you admit to or even boast of reading Hello! magazine, an addiction to which I happily confess, reading Hello! could not possibly be what you are really boasting about ...

Smashing the Teapots

Jacqueline Rose, 23 January 1997

Virginia Woolf 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 722 pp., £20, September 1996, 0 7011 6507 3
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... One of the strangest things Virginia Woolf ever did was to travel with Leonard to Germany for part of their annual holiday in April 1935. The vigour of German anti-semitism was by this point clear and Hitler’s power and at least some of his worst intentions towards Britain were recorded by Woolf in her diaries (‘There is some reason I suppose to expect that Oxford Street will be flooded with poison gas one of these days ...

Go girl

Jacqueline Rose: The intimate geography of women, 30 September 1999

Woman: An Intimate Geography 
by Natalie Angier.
Virago, 398 pp., £17.99, March 1999, 1 86049 685 7
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Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-98 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 75 pp., £14.95, March 1999, 0 393 04682 6
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... The language of survival has always been fundamental to feminism. Germaine Greer seems to be convinced that the species is heading for extinction. (Some time ago, in an article in the Observer, she envisaged a time ‘when, far in the future, the human race has exterminated itself.’) For a time, Adrienne Rich believed that what was destroying itself was patriarchy: ‘The creative energy of patriarchy is fast running out,’ she wrote in 1971, ‘what remains is its self-generating energy for destruction’ (‘When We Dead Awaken ...

The Iron Rule

Jacqueline Rose: Bernhard Schlink’s Guilt, 31 July 2008

Homecoming 
by Bernhard Schlink, translated by Michael Henry Heim.
Weidenfeld, 260 pp., £14.99, January 2008, 978 0 297 84468 6
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... Towards the end of Bernhard Schlink’s best-known novel, The Reader, the narrator is pondering his future after taking his state exam in law. He has just seen his former lover, Hanna Schmitz, convicted of war crimes: she had been a concentration camp guard, something he hadn’t known when she seduced him as a 15-year-old boy. None of the roles he saw played out in court appeals to him: ‘Prosecution seemed to me as grotesque a simplification as defence, and judging was the most grotesque oversimplification of all ...

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