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Brigid Brophy, 6 October 1983

Murasaki Shikibu: Her Diary and Poetic Memoirs, A Translation and Study 
by Richard Bowring.
Princeton, 290 pp., £21.70, August 1982, 0 691 06507 1
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by Fanny Burney.
Oxford, 421 pp., £2.50, April 1982, 0 19 281596 2
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The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney 
edited by Peter Hughes and Warren Derry.
Oxford, 624 pp., £37.50, September 1980, 0 19 812507 0
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by Joanna Richardson.
Methuen, 276 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 413 48780 6
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Letters from Colette 
translated by Robert Phelps.
Virago, 214 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 86068 252 8
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... chauvinism that Colette greeted a cat in the United States as, at last, someone who spoke French. Joanna Richardson maintains the myth of Colette’s sympathy with animals. It would be easier to swallow had Colette abandoned swallowing the corpses of killed animals. The whole blather about Colette’s ‘passion for nature’, to which Ms ...

Englishing Ourselves

F.W.J. Hemmings, 18 December 1980

by Robert Alter.
Allen and Unwin, 285 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 04 928042 2
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... in order to encompass the ‘life of the books’ as well as the ‘life of the man’? Joanna Richardson, the last chapter of whose biography was entitled ‘Stendhal and Posterity’, evidently thought one should. (Her book, incidentally, appeared only six years ago; and ‘thick and fast they come at last,’ like Lewis Carroll’s ...

Horrible Dead Years

Christopher Prendergast, 24 March 1994

by Joanna Richardson.
Murray, 602 pp., £30, March 1994, 0 7195 4813 6
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... runs from de Maistre through Dostoevsky and Nietzsche to Heidegger. We make of this what we may. Joanna Richardson’s new book makes nothing of it at all (the notorious remark about the Jews is not even mentioned). Whatever questions engage her, the question about this book is what exactly it has to offer, other than yet more fodder from that branch of ...


E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... Levi in his bibliography does not bother to mention studies by Peter Quennell, John Lehmann, Joanna Richardson and Susan Chitty, among others. He does, however, pay his warm respects to Vivien Noakes’s definitive Edward Lear: The Life of a Wanderer (1968, reissued 1985). Noakes has reviewed Levi’s book – ‘a joyous interpretation’ – in ...


William Thomas, 16 October 1980

Holland House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... Chateaubriand. Mr Quennell is most interested in Madame de Lieven’s autumnal love for Guizot. Joanna Richardson on Madame de Girardin is much fuller and captures something of the fascination of a famous literary coterie: but as its hostess, she ‘chose to talk her Lettres Parisiennes before she wrote them’, so even her talk comes to us (with who ...

The Inner Lives of Quiet Women

Joanna Kavenna, 21 September 2000

May Sinclair: A Modern Victorian 
by Suzanne Raitt.
Oxford, 307 pp., £19.99, April 2001, 0 19 812298 5
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... As the 1920s progressed, she became more be-bunned and anachronistic, and was avoided by Dorothy Richardson (the author of Pilgrimage, one of the longest streams of consciousness of the period), who found her too wary and easy to offend. The equally diffident, if yet more isolated poet Charlotte Mew courted Sinclair with a wrecker’s passion, but found ...

Tiny Little Lars

Joanna Kavenna: Von Trier’s Provocations, 15 April 2004

Trier on von Trier 
edited by Stig Björkman, translated by Neil Smith.
Faber, 288 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 571 20707 3
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directed by Lars von Trier.
May 2003
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... to the structures of power. Other characters try to help them – Jeff in Dancer in the Dark, Dr Richardson in Breaking the Waves – but these heroines submit to their suffering with masochistic determination. The priestly tone of von Trier’s films – the notion that goodness can save the soul, though the body is besmirched – makes his characters seem ...


Julian Barnes: On the Booker, 12 November 1987

... and (Wells again) The History of Mr Polly; perhaps the Antipodean outsider Henry Handel Richardson would have scooped it with The Getting of Wisdom. In 1924 Forster’s publishers might have thought they had a chance with his block-buster, A Passage to India. For once, Wells wasn’t dogging him: but there was Maurice Baring’s C, Ford’s Some do ...

Eliot and the Shudder

Frank Kermode: The Shudder, 13 May 2010

... physical response. In a recent essay on Francis Bacon in the New York Review of Books, John Richardson recalls that Bacon aimed his images of his friend George Dyer ‘at the nervous system’, and adds that a ‘woman admirer’ told him they did indeed induce ‘a visceral shudder’. That the shudder should be described as a violent physical response ...

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