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Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia, 25 September 2003

The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... Which is why history needs to engage emotions as well as the mind. Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson, the editors of The Land Is a Map, represent a new generation of young scholars skilled in indigenous languages. Their work is a sort of archaeological toponymy: placenames are like artefacts in surface archaeology. In their introduction, they ...

Waving the Past Goodbye

Lorna Sage, 3 April 1997

A Regular Guy 
by Mona Simpson.
Faber, 372 pp., £15.99, February 1997, 0 571 19079 0
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The Keepsake 
by Kirsty Gunn.
Granta, 224 pp., £14.99, March 1997, 9781862070134
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... Mona Simpson’s novels are long and loose, and make compulsive reading. She not only writes about obsession, but she passes on the effect with extraordinary directness, almost as though there’s no separate authorial presence in her books at all – art concealing art with a vengeance. A Regular Guy is her third novel, and in it she celebrates her first ten years in the business by surrendering her addiction to ‘I’, and edging just a little further over into fictionality with the invention of self-made hero Tom Owens, the multi-millionaire founder of a West Coast biotech company he christens ‘Genesis’: ‘He thought of himself as a guy in jeans, barefoot in the boardroom ...


Jane Campbell, 20 April 1995

The Death of Old Man Rice: A Story of Criminal Justice in America 
by Martin Friedland.
New York, 423 pp., $29.95, October 1994, 0 8147 2627 5
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... been widely commented on’. Television may have made it almost impossible to find a jury for O.J. Simpson, but before TV there was the cigar store. One potential juror owned a cigar store and said that he had discussed the case with his customers. He had heard many different opinions of it but admitted that the more he sided with the opinion of a ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey, 4 March 2004

Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... preoccupations of fans are the most beautiful and worrying things about modern pop. Here’s ‘Jane’: There was a programme on TV about what would happen if there was a nuclear war. And I think if a nuclear war did happen I’d be thinking: Is Boy George safe? . . . I remember when ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ first came out. I saw him leaving a ...

Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn, 24 April 2008

Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... vacuous feature film will be clogging up the multiplexes. In reworkings of the Tudor soap opera, Jane Boleyn is more often known as Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, sister-in-law to Anne the queen. There are some lives we read backwards, from bloody exit to obscure entrance, and ...

Seen through the Loopholes

David Simpson: ‘War at a Distance’, 11 March 2010

War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime 
by Mary Favret.
Princeton, 262 pp., £18.95, January 2010, 978 0 691 14407 8
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... chiefly because it was written about, and written about in high-cultural forms like the novels of Jane Austen or the slow-selling poetry of Coleridge and Wordsworth. Favret reminds us that much of the literature of Romanticism was produced and consumed at a time when everyday life was suffused with the awareness of war. This has only recently become clear to ...

The Mourning Paper

David Simpson: On war and showing pictures of the dead, 20 May 2004

... the crew of his gunboat), others notoriously faked: the young John Kerry on a podium with ‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda at an antiwar rally. A half-hour before midnight on 30 April, far from prime time, Ted Koppel read out the names of ‘the fallen’ and flashed up their photographs, two at a time, about three seconds each, for 30 minutes or so, interrupted by ...


Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event , 20 April 1995

... was Jessica Lange and as were Uma Thurman and Oprah Winfrey. His only autograph refusal came from Jane Fonda. I was impressed by how many people didn’t go for Gump. Usually, success is everything and brings everything in its train, but the idea that the industry regarded this as its best effort was widely thought to be embarrassing. As the movie’s ...

Damp Souls

Tom Vanderbilt, 3 October 1996

Snow Falling on Cedars 
by David Guterson.
Bloomsbury, 316 pp., £5.99, September 1996, 0 7475 2266 9
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The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind 
by David Guterson.
Bloomsbury, 181 pp., £5.99, January 1996, 0 7475 2561 7
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... works of what is now called literary fiction tend to be aggressively regional – think of Jane Smiley’s Iowa, Jane Hamilton’s Midwest or E. Annie Proulx’s Newfoundland. They are literary postcards, nostalgic, often mawkish renderings of some quaint locale. Fulsomely praised as ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: On being photographed, 15 April 2004

... record a social life as well as a professional one. From the wedding pictures of Edward and Mrs Simpson to stars in Hollywood hotel rooms, the impression you get is that he wasn’t so much a photographer – who after all is a functionary, a kind of servant – as a friend who happened to bring his Rolleiflex along. He seems to have been able to imagine ...

Hard-Edged Chic

Rosemary Hill: The ‘shocking’ life of Schiap, 19 February 2004

Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli 
by Dilys Blum.
Yale/Philadelphia Museum of Art, 320 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 300 10066 3
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... of choice for intellectual and artistic women, the actress Arletty, Kenneth Clark’s wife Jane, and in fiction Muriel Spark’s girls of slender means, who shared one Schiaparelli dress between them. Her influence owed a great deal to the ease with which some, at least, of her work could be pirated, and she took imitation in the right spirit: ‘The ...

Royal Bodies

Hilary Mantel, 21 February 2013

... of Katherine Howard to the junketings of the Prince Regent to the modern-day mischief of Mrs Simpson. But a new world began, I think, in 1980, with the discovery that Diana, the future Princess of Wales, had legs. You will remember how the young Diana taught for a few hours a week at a kindergarten called Young England, and when it was first known that ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels, 19 August 1999

Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of her people,’ Jane Austen’s nephew wrote in his Memoir of his aunt. In this traditionary way we learned that Miss Steele never succeeded in catching the Doctor; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher ...


Patricia Craig, 19 September 1985

But for Bunter 
by David Hughes.
Heinemann, 223 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 434 35410 4
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Bunter Sahib 
by Daniel Green.
Hodder, 272 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 340 36429 7
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The Good Terrorist 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 370 pp., £9.50, September 1985, 0 224 02323 3
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Unexplained Laughter 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 155 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7156 2070 3
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Polaris and Other Stories 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 237 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 340 33227 1
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... Mauleverer, though, seems a proper boyhood embodiment for the Prince of Wales – and Mrs Simpson is brought in satisfactorily to extend the role at Greyfriars reserved for Marjorie Hazeldene, an especially ripping schoolgirl in everyone’s view. Where in all this, we might ask, is the Bounder of Greyfriars? Another strand in contemporary history ...

What does she think she looks like?

Rosemary Hill: The Dress in Your Head, 5 April 2018

... jazz age. This was perhaps the only period in which women who looked like Schiaparelli and Wallis Simpson, with their hefty, dynamic profiles, could have been leaders of fashion. Women were prominent in the world of haute couture between the wars. As well as Schiap, as she was known, there were Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin. Schiaparelli’s ...

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