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Keeping control

Jane Rogers, 8 January 1987

Ivan: Living with Parkinson’s Disease 
by Ivan Vaughan and Jonathan Miller.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 333 42454 9
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... This is not a moving account of how bravely and cleverly Ivan Vaughan copes with a debilitating disease: its scope is far wider, and its tone more varied, and more demanding of the reader, than that would suggest. Part of it is an adventure story about someone in extraordinary physical circumstances, for whom execution of the most mundane acts (such as putting on spectacles, opening a letter) attains a level of cliff-hanging suspense ...

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 ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... squalor and urban overcrowding persists in the minds of public and planners alike,’ Richard Rogers and Anne Power argue in Cities for a Small Country, ‘and fuels an almost obsessive desire for low-density, suburban homes.’ What happened, they ask, to ‘the English love of cities’? Should we blame the town planner Ebenezer Howard for the love ...

How to Save the City-Dweller

Andrew Saint: Cities, 21 May 1998

Cities for a Small Planet 
by Richard Rogers.
Faber, 180 pp., £9.99, December 1997, 0 571 17993 2
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... Cities that are beautiful, safe and equitable are within our grasp.’ So says Richard Rogers at the end of this reworking of his Reith Lectures of 1995, and we must do our best to believe him. Suppose, however, that the lecturer had pronounced instead on another of the basic building-blocks of society – the family, for instance ...

Pooh to London

Pat Rogers, 22 December 1983

The Other Side of the Fire 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 7156 1809 1
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London Tales 
edited by Julian Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 241 11123 4
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Londoners 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 413 49350 4
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Good Friends, Just 
by Anne Leaton.
Chatto, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2710 4
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... feel so ghastly.’ Charles and Philip are touched in more lightly, but they are real enough. Like Jane Austen, Alice Thomas Ellis can describe women’s lives so well because she understands men perfectly. More prominent in the story is Sylvie’s daughter, who is notionally reading Greats but actually trying to win a prize for romantic fiction. Evvie has ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... difficulties start with her struggle to locate the material. Her ‘100 good women writers before Jane Austen’ are an arbitrary bunch, many obtained from a hacker’s job on Janet Todd’s Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660-1800. Spender calls this a ‘Dictionary of Women Novelists’ – a significant blunder. Todd covers ...

The Great Sorting

Ben Rogers: Urban Inequality, 25 April 2018

The New Urban Crisis: Gentrification, Housing Bubbles, Growing Inequality and What We Can Do about It 
by Richard Florida.
Oneworld, 352 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 1 78607 212 2
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... The editorial line is anti-suburb, anti-car, pro-bike, pro-coffee, pro-affordable housing, pro-Jane Jacobs. Although Florida’s position hasn’t fundamentally altered, he has become worried that cities are increasingly implicated in inequality. It’s true that they are engines of invention, prosperity and opportunity, and that without them our economies ...

After the war

Diana Gould, 15 November 1984

Another Story: Women and the Falklands War 
by Jean Carr, introduced by Jane Ewart-Biggs.
Hamish Hamilton, 162 pp., £7.50, October 1984, 0 241 11391 1
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... and mother, looms large, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The introduction is written by Jane Ewart-Biggs. Lady Ewart-Biggs speaks for those throughout the country who listened with growing dismay to the debate in Parliament on 3 April 1982 which culminated in the despatch of the Task Force with all-party support. Those people thought in terms of men ...

Men at Sea

Robert Taubman, 6 November 1980

Rites of Passage 
by William Golding.
Faber, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 571 11639 6
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... of station in life, but less successfully. The play of snobbery and moral nuance here might recall Jane Austen – were it not for the impending tragedy of Colley. Talbot has occasion both to ridicule and enlarge his own conceptions of hierarchy at the ritual of ‘shooting the sun’ – the officers with ‘the brass triangles held to their faces’ and the ...

Ripping the pig

Robert Bernard Martin, 5 August 1982

The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson: Vol. 1 1821-1850 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 366 pp., £17.50, February 1982, 0 19 812569 0
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Tennyson: ‘In Memoriam’ 
edited by Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1982, 0 19 812747 2
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... nothing, of Shakespeare but his writings; and that he thanked God Almighty that he knew nothing of Jane Austen, and that there were no letters preserved either of Shakespeare’s or of Jane Austen’s, that they had not been ripped open like pigs.’ The reappearance of the porky metaphor may indicate a family habit of ...

Fire and Ice

Patrick O’Brian, 20 April 1989

Fire Down Below 
by William Golding.
Faber, 313 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 571 15203 1
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... to his cabin. Colley emerges, drunk and naked but for a seaman’s shirt, supported by Billy Rogers the Handsome Sailor: he pisses against the bulwark in full view of the genteel passengers, and then turning he blesses them in the name of the Trinity. He is removed. Talbot sees him once more, still extremely drunk and happy, on the way to the lavatory ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... than men do. Other things being equal, readers of the same sex will be closer to the meaning of Jane Austen, for instance, than their male counterparts. Where there is a choice, women’s commentary is given priority in the attached bibliographical notes. They know best. This Companion is at least two things. Primarily it is a reference book, a convenient ...

Snakes and Leeches

Rosemary Hill: The Great Stink, 4 January 2018

One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 300 22726 0
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... the obscure and the forgotten. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning plan their elopement. Samuel Rogers entertains the Gräfin Hahn-Hahn, a romantic novelist who has come to meet her English public and disappoints them by turning out to have false teeth and a glass eye. The painter Benjamin Haydon approaches a crisis in his unhappy career. Browning annoys ...

Being two is half the fun

John Bayley, 4 July 1985

Multiple Personality and the Disintegration of Literary Character 
by Jeremy Hawthorn.
Edward Arnold, 146 pp., £15, May 1983, 0 7131 6398 4
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Doubles: Studies in Literary History 
by Karl Miller.
Oxford, 488 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 9780198128410
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The Doubleman 
by C.J. Koch.
Chatto, 326 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780701129453
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... of his being most subtly and most dramatically. In The Double in Literature (1970) Robert Rogers pointed out that the young captain narrator ‘symbolically summoned his double’ by leaving a rope-ladder dangling over the side, as if in a tale by Hoffmann, whom Conrad mentions elsewhere, and that the story conjures up the contrasting sides of ...
The ego is always at the wheel 
by Delmore Schwartz.
Carcanet, 146 pp., £6.95, May 1987, 0 85635 702 2
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A Nest of Ninnies 
by John Ashbery and James Schuyler.
Carcanet, 191 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 85635 699 9
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... of the Giants, has a dispiriting vagueness to it. Though the Giants buy the formidable batter Rogers Hornsby in the close season, they still miss out on the Pennant race the following year. Schwartz concludes: ‘It is now years since I first became aware that the reality of the future was very likely to be very different than any present image or ...

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