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Ladies and Gentlemen

Patricia Beer, 6 May 1982

The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... is a collection of the writings of Rebecca West from 1911 to 1917, selected and introduced by Jane Marcus, with just the right amount of explanation and comment. In one respect it is an unfortunate title, suggesting an item from the cast-list of almost any black-and-white film about almost any celebrity, but in the respect that it makes a point of ...

Missing Pieces

Patrick Parrinder, 9 May 1991

Mr Wroe’s Virgins 
by Jane Rogers.
Faber, 276 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 571 16194 4
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The Side of the Moon 
by Amanda Prantera.
Bloomsbury, 192 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 7475 0861 5
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... 19th-century social history, but it is carefully shaped to fit in with the neighbouring pieces. Jane Rogers’s fourth novel is full of information about the harshness of the Industrial Revolution, the plight of the weavers and spinners, and the fight against the Combination Acts. Through the device of a character who was reared in Owenite circles, we get ...

A Writer’s Fancy

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1980

Hackenfeller’s Ape 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 125 pp., £5.50, October 1980, 0 85031 314 7
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by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 124 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 9780850313185
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The Snow Ball 
by Brigid Brophy.
Allison and Busby, 143 pp., £1.95, October 1980, 0 85031 316 3
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... a generous succession of ‘small touches’ rather than large grabs. Thus, in Flesh (1962), when Marcus – unappealing, a hopeless case, a ‘voodoo scarecrow’ – is taken up by the brisk and attractive Nancy, he feels ‘like a derelict property suddenly bought up by a speculator. He was bound to wonder what was to be made of him.’ There ...

More Husband than Female

Sharon Marcus: Gender Renegades, 17 June 2021

Female Husbands: A Trans History 
by Jen Manion.
Cambridge, 350 pp., £17.99, March 2020, 978 1 108 48380 3
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Before Trans: Three Gender Stories from 19th-Century France 
by Rachel Mesch.
Stanford, 344 pp., £24.99, May 2020, 978 1 5036 0673 9
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... female husbands chose to live as men, I refer to them using male pronouns.Mesch’s first subject, Jane Dieulafoy (b. 1851), was a French patriot, a Catholic, an archaeologist and a sharpshooter in the Franco-Prussian War. They were married to the engineer and archaeologist Marcel-Auguste Dieulafoy and together the couple undertook a number of expeditions to ...

Shakespeare the Novelist

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... thing about the Vietnam combat zone that it was no place for American women – unless like Jane Fonda they were in the business of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. War is an exclusive male club. Women have their room; men have their battlefield. All this makes for an initial difficulty in coming to terms with Buffalo Afternoon. It is – in its ...

Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 
by Alethea Hayter.
Robin Clark, 224 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 0 86072 146 9
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Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850 
edited by John Barrell.
Oxford, 301 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198173922
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London: World City 1800-1840 
edited by Celina Fox.
Yale, 624 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 300 05284 7
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... whom heroism was an obsession. He used his own head as a model for Christ, Solomon, Alexander and Marcus Curtius and believed that heroic history painting was the highest form of art. Today his only generally remembered work is a portrait of Wordsworth. In his lifetime Haydon was well-known and not without admirers but he was dogged increasingly by ridicule ...

One Thing

John Bayley, 22 November 1990

Jean Rhys 
by Carole Angier.
Deutsch, 780 pp., £15.99, November 1990, 0 233 98597 2
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A Lot to Ask: A Life of Barbara Pym 
by Hazel Holt.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 333 40614 1
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... dressed well, seeming to offer a degree of stability along with freedom. In her story ‘Goodbye Marcus, goodbye Rose’ a girl called Phoebe recites:  If no one ever marries me And I don’t see why they should. For nurse says I’m not pretty And I’m seldom very good ... She was pretty, if the photo on the cover is anything to go by, but it gave her ...

Little Bastard

Patrick Collinson: Learning to be Queen, 6 July 2000

Elizabeth: Apprenticeship 
by David Starkey.
Chatto, 339 pp., £20, April 2000, 0 7011 6939 7
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Elizabeth I: Collected Works 
edited by Leah Marcus and Janel Mueller.
Chicago, 436 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 226 50464 6
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... transfer of power, and soon the death of Edward and the failed coup d’état in the name of Lady Jane Grey, followed by the successful coup and triumph of Elizabeth’s Catholic sister. The Protestant princess, seen as her father’s true daughter and ‘mere English’, was now at the centre of plots, and dabbling in treason herself, just like her Scottish ...

Check out the parking lot

Rebecca Solnit: Hell in LA, 8 July 2004

Dante's Inferno 
by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders.
Chronicle, 218 pp., £15.99, May 2004, 0 8118 4213 4
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... with illustrations by Sandow Birk, he took on the project himself with a friend, surf journalist Marcus Sanders. Their translation is into the vernacular of guy inarticulateness, with a little slang, which is to say its frequent awfulness must be intentional. Throughout most of the English-speaking world, citizens speak English like, well, native ...


Michael Irwin, 4 December 1980

Collected Short Stories 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 303 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 143430 0
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World’s End 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 241 10447 5
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by Richard Stern.
Sidgwick, 151 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 283 98689 1
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Oxbridge Blues 
by Frederic Raphael.
Cape, 213 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 9780224018715
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The Fat Man in History 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 186 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 571 11619 1
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... it’s hardly a ‘story’ – was ‘Mail’, in which a cartographer and minor poet named Marcus Firetuck quotes from, and meditates upon, a variety of eccentrics who maintain a frail acquaintanceship with him solely through letter-writing, fellow ‘citizens of the country of correspondence’. Seasoned admirers of Kingsley Amis will enjoy ...

Gesture as Language

David Trotter, 30 January 1992

A Cultural History of Gestures: From Antiquity to the Present 
edited by Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg.
Polity, 220 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 7456 0786 1
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The New Oxford Book of 17th-Century Verse 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 830 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 19 214164 3
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... in this sad knot,’ we can feel that Ferdinand, too, really does have a lot on his mind. As does Marcus, in Titus Andronicus, when he thinks about the brutal injury done to Titus and Lavinia, his arms folded in a ‘sorrow-wreathen knot’. But in the end it is the precariousness of gesture which interests Shakespeare. Titus has to point out to ...

Peroxide Mug-Shot

Marina Warner: Women who kill children, 1 January 1998

... piece of game, he found the body of his own child. There’s a trace of this type of legend in Jane Eyre’s first encounter with Mr Rochester, but here the predator’s quarry is a young woman and the episode has erotic overtones: the sound of his horse’s hooves reminds her of the Gytrash, a ‘north-of-England spirit’ from ‘one of Bessie’s ...

Target Practice

Tim Whitmarsh: Lucian, 25 February 2010

Lucian: A Selection 
edited by Neil Hopkinson.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.99, October 2008, 978 0 521 84200 6
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... figures as the erotic novelist Achilles Tatius, the philosopher Sextus the Empiricist, the emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Christian apologist Clement of Alexandria and Lucian? All of them were immensely erudite and rhetorically trained, and all worked within a tradition of classicising Hellenism; but in terms of social standing and literary output they could not ...

The Redeemed Vicarage

John Lennard, 12 May 1994

Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... Subsequent novels experimented with quotations, both embedded and epigraphic, from Pope, Keats, Marcus Aurelius and Marvell; and Deadheads (1983) broke new ground. Deadheading, of roses aesthetically and of people conveniently, is the donné of the plot, and the poets are raided for their words on roses to preface each section; but the chapter titles and ...

Return of the Native

Hugh Barnes, 7 March 1985

The Final Passage 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 205 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 571 13437 8
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Merle, and Other Stories 
by Paule Marshall.
Virago, 210 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 86068 665 5
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Heaven and Earth 
by Frederic Raphael.
Cape, 310 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 224 02294 6
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The Tenth Man 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780370308319
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... were her principal educators, swopping Bajan folklore, talking politics (‘if FDR was their hero, Marcus Garvey was their God’) and the travails of living in this ‘man country’. The ‘unknown bards’ have populated her stories ever since, most memorably in Silla Boyce, the furious matriarch of her first novel. Women have been active elements ...

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