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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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... of a slow cultural osmosis. If they don’t, it’s because they have run dry with formalism. Which is why history needs to engage emotions as well as the mind. Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and JaneSimpson, 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 ...
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 ...

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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... into fiction by the energetic Philippa Gregory. But there is no sign so far that another inert and 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 Jane’s is one ...

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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... Starlust: The Secret Life of Fans, a book which has no trouble persuading you that the desires and 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 ...

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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... In the United States, bestselling 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 ‘generous’, ‘lyrical ...


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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... to the notoriety and publicity which has been given’ to the case ‘and to the fact that it has 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 ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: On being photographed

15 April 2004
... which Beaton stuck prints clipped from contact sheets. Names and places are written underneath: they 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 ...


Christopher Hitchens: On the Original Non-Event

20 April 1995
... Hitchens to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, both of whom were very nice to him, as 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 ...

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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... Loos, and the knitwear designs were soon being copied cheaply in Europe and America. She was the designer 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 ...

Royal Bodies

Hilary Mantel

21 February 2013
... has taken a sordid turn. There were scandals enough in centuries past, from the sneaky little adulteries 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 ...

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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... landscape (there to be encountered by Wordsworth and his like). But much of this has come down to us 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 Mourning Paper

David Simpson: On war and showing pictures of the dead

20 May 2004
... been circulating recently, some of them apparently to be trusted (the young John Kerry standing with 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 ...

What does she think she looks like?

Rosemary Hill: The Dress in Your Head

28 March 2018
... turned, bevel-edged furniture and teapots on the slant, a style in which the machine age met the 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 ...

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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... She 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 ...


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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... form master – Hughes crosses A.E. Housman with Jack the Ripper. It really isn’t a suitable concoction. 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 ...

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