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Woman in Love

Brigid Brophy, 7 February 1985

The Life of Jane Austen 
by John Halperin.
Harvester, 400 pp., December 1984, 0 7108 0518 7
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... Two voices are there of Centennial Professor of English at Vanderbilt University John Halperin, whose rank and area of operation are, by what strikes me as a publishing solecism in a book that solicits a general readership, placed in apposition to his name on the title-page. The first voice is scarcely of the deep, but it utters some common sense ...

Squalor

Frank Kermode, 3 February 1983

Gissing: A Life in Books 
by John Halperin.
Oxford, 426 pp., £18.50, September 1982, 0 19 812677 8
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George Gissing: Critical Essays 
edited by Jean-Pierre Michaux.
Vision/Barnes and Noble, 214 pp., £11.95, March 1981, 0 85478 404 7
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... without it the oeuvre would be no more than the interesting record of a pained but minor artist. John Halperin, of course, takes a different view, claiming that a dozen of the novels are ‘first-rate’. In order to reach that total he has to include The Paying Guest – indeed, he thinks it a ‘masterpiece’. As it is a short book, about thirty ...

Crusoe was a gentleman

John Sutherland, 1 July 1982

The Gentleman in Trollope: Individuality and Moral Conduct 
by Shirley Letwin.
Macmillan, 303 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 333 31209 0
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The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel 
by Robin Gilmour.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £10, October 1981, 0 04 800005 1
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... number of the 47 novels to print. A new and complete edition of the letters (edited by N. John Hall) is about to take over from Bradford Booth’s handy but imperfect single volume. A new and definitive biography (by Hall again) is in hand. And there has been an astonishing number of monographs and hardbacked collections of essays on Trollope in the ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... this time in a more objectively historical context. Hamilton offers 22 case studies, from John Donne – the first properly biographed English author – to Philip Larkin of last month’s Observer fame. Hamilton could not, if he tried, write an unreadable book. Keepers of the Flame is that rarest of modern things, lit crit with laughs. Hamilton has ...

Being splendid

Stephen Wall, 3 March 1988

Civil to Strangers 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 333 39128 4
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The Pleasure of Miss Pym 
by Charles Burkhart.
Texas, 120 pp., $17.95, July 1987, 0 292 76496 0
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The World of Barbara Pym 
by Janice Rossen.
Macmillan, 193 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 333 42372 0
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The Life and Work of Barbara Pym 
edited by Dale Salwak.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 333 40831 4
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... is not much considered. Generally, individual novels are preferred or not on idiosyncratic bases. John Halperin, for instance, offers Jane and Prudence as ‘arguably Pym’s best novel’ because it illustrates most powerfully his theme: her treatment of the war between the sexes. It ‘depicts women as the victims of men, of their selfishness and ...

Speak for yourself, matey

Adam Mars-Jones: The Uses of Camp, 22 November 2012

How to Be Gay 
by David Halperin.
Harvard, 549 pp., £25.95, August 2012, 978 0 674 06679 3
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... he said, ‘and the weight of your chin, I’d recommend a hat with a broader brim.’ David Halperin’s new book, How to Be Gay, addresses the mysterious persistence of discredited elements from pre-Stonewall gay male culture. In theory camp should have been rendered obsolete by the arrival of models of gay behaviour not driven by the old toxic blend ...

Facing both ways

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 19 August 1993

Bisexuality in the Ancient World 
by Eva Cantarella, translated by Cormac O Cuilleanain.
Yale, 284 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 0 300 04844 0
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... warrior by the tuition of an older male who was his lover. Further, the American scholar David Halperin published A Hundred Years of Homosexuality (1990), a volume of essays in which he enthusiastically supports Foucault’s view that ‘homosexuality’ is a construction of Western culture that came into being only about a hundred years ago. These ...

Rug Time

Jonathan Steinberg, 20 October 1983

Kissinger: The Price of Power 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 699 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 571 13175 1
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... in the Kissinger offices recognised the importance of an incident Hersh describes:   David Halperin recalls with a visible shudder the first time the President directly telephoned Haig: ‘There was more tension than I can ever recall in that office,’ he said. Kissinger was in his outer office, conferring with his secretary, Julie Pineau, when ...

Enabler’s Revenge

David Runciman: John Edwards, 25 March 2010

The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down 
by Andrew Young.
Thomas Dunne, 301 pp., $24.99, January 2010, 978 0 312 64065 1
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Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House 
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
Viking, 448 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 670 91802 7
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... befriending and then covering up on behalf of the Democratic politician and presidential hopeful John Edwards takes the genre of enabler’s revenge to a whole new level. ‘Covering up’ doesn’t really do justice to Young’s role, which by the end included going on the run with Edwards’s mistress Rielle Hunter and their love-child (with Young’s own ...

A Piece of Single Blessedness

John Burrows, 21 January 1988

Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... smacks of excess. But, compared with Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Jane Austen (1979) and John Halperin’s The Life of Jane Austen (1984), the work under review is in so many ways the best that it deserves to make its mark. The three authors, moreover, approach their subject (or subjects) from quite different directions and differ greatly in ...

Cures for Impotence

James Davidson, 19 October 1995

Foucault’s Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality 
by Simon Goldhill.
Cambridge, 194 pp., £30, January 1995, 0 521 47372 1
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... the flightless and the fully fledged, to one function only: masculine power. According to David Halperin, one of the most sophisticated members of this school of thought, ‘the symbolic language of democracy proclaimed on behalf of each citizen, “I, too, have a phallus.” ’ The herms are Hermes no longer, but a symbol of the patriarch, not ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy, 6 February 2003

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... or swim with Ngo Dinh Diem’ was a recipe for failure. In July 1964, however, he was asked by John McNaughton, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, to join him in the Pentagon as his special assistant. The Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, had given McNaughton responsibility for co-ordinating strategy towards ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Establishment President, 13 May 2010

... both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen.’ One can’t imagine Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy saying such a thing, or wanting to say it. They had known ‘those guys’ all their lives and felt no tingle of reflected glory. Obama has not yet recognised that his conspicuous relish of his place among the elite does him two kinds of harm: it ...

Who killed Jesus?

Hyam Maccoby, 19 July 1984

Jesus and the Politics of his Day 
edited by Ernst Bammel and C.F.D. Moule.
Cambridge, 511 pp., £37.50, February 1984, 9780521220224
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... this man go, you are no friend to Caesar; any man who claims to be king is defying Caesar” ’ (John 19.7). Since the 18th century, however, it has been argued that this allegation of a ‘frame-up’ is itself a frame-up – whose victims are the Jews. If Jesus, as many Gospel passages indicate, did indeed claim to be ‘King of the Jews’, is it possible ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... couple were illustrious knights of the royal chamber of Richard II, Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe, ‘the Castor and Pollux of the Lollard movement’, as the medieval historian Bruce McFarlane called them. Neville died just four days after Clanvowe, the inscription records, in October 1391. The Westminster Chronicle fills in the ...

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