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Less than Perfectly Submissive

Susan Pedersen: No Votes, Thank You, 20 March 2008

Women against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain 
by Julia Bush.
Oxford, 340 pp., £35, October 2007, 978 0 19 924877 3
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... work from dawn till dusk for the public weal – but without the tools men had to hand. Why? Julia Bush’s earnest new book only partly answers this question. The anti-suffragists, she tells us, were much like their suffragist opponents: serious, high-minded, committed to a range of worthy causes, often possessed of advanced views about the need ...

A Sequence from ‘Camera Obscura’

Robin Robertson, 22 August 1996

... parked carsinto the forensic flash, flash of cameras.Around her, the Pre-Raphaelite beautiesof Julia Margaret Cameron,the mongols of Arbus.Track east to the Caltonwhere Nelson’s upturned telescopestands staring at the ground,where the observatory lies empty, closeda century ago by railway smokefrom Waverley: the Enlightenment below.Gulls mill like ash ...

At MoMA

Hal Foster: Cindy Sherman, 10 May 2012

... body, which is the primary site of ‘the abject’ as well, a liminal category defined by Julia Kristeva as neither subject nor object and thus charged with intense ambivalence. Sherman evokes this extreme state in scenes suffused with signifiers of menstrual blood and sexual discharge, vomit and shit. The domain of her so-called civil war and sex ...

Kindred Spirits

Chloe Hooper: To be Tasmanian, 18 August 2005

In Tasmania 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Harvill, 320 pp., £20, November 2004, 1 84343 157 2
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... and lost, bad men and bad women. Kemp’s granddaughter, for instance, the beautiful, headstrong Julia Sorrell, would make a brilliant heroine. She burst into tears at her wedding, and some years later stood throwing rocks at the stained glass windows of a church, while inside her husband converted to Catholicism. Her only belief, which she clung to with ...

The Exploding Harpoon

Kathleen Jamie: Whales, 8 August 2013

The Sea Inside 
by Philip Hoare.
Fourth Estate, 374 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 0 00 741211 2
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... gleaming on its flanks. A sperm whale! In Oban Bay! Having surfaced it sent up a satisfying bush of spray two or three times. I couldn’t contain myself. ‘Look!’ I said to the woman next to me. ‘Look! There’s that whale!’ But she didn’t look. She just turned away, saying: ‘I am not a whale watcher, thank you.’ The world is full of ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids, 21 March 2013

... of presidents like Ronald Reagan and – not that anyone wants to remember this now – George W. Bush inheriting the mantle of Winston Churchill. Robert Conquest, presenting a relatively sophisticated, unmilitaristic and tolerant version of the Anglosphere (it included Nigeria and India) in Reflections on a Ravaged Century contrasted ‘the European ...

Down to the Last Cream Puff

Steven Shapin: The End of Haute Cuisine, 5 August 2010

Au Revoir to All That: The Rise and Fall of French Cuisine 
by Michael Steinberger.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £8.99, July 2010, 978 1 4088 0136 9
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... there was nothing mere about food, that food was never merely fuel, was lesson number one. For Julia Child, the epiphany was a simple sole meunière in postwar Rouen: ‘I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume … I chewed slowly and swallowed. It was a morsel of perfection.’ Julia wasn’t the first American ...

Subversions

R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... legtimates attempts to pierce that secrecy. Pincher has been going round and round this mulberry bush for forty years now, with considerable commercial success. Pincher’s latest offering is at least as awful as the rest. As a literary construction it is a mess, rambling endlessly and repetitively around the same warmed-over material which he has already ...

Make for the Boondocks

Tom Nairn: Hardt and Negri, 5 May 2005

Multitude 
by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £20, January 2005, 0 241 14240 7
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... within this overmastering Totality, an end-time so final that all detours appear futile. President Bush’s descent on Iraq is just one of these: not an aberration or a relapse into old-fashioned imperialism, but characteristic of the new age. That is, of a globe that has become truly One, though still awaiting the signal-flares of true redemption. And in ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... of a political hot potato: most of these drafts were being written in the years of the George W. Bush tax cuts. ‘There’s something very interesting about civics and selfishness, and we get to ride the crest of it. Here in the US, we expect government and law to be our conscience. Our superego, you could say … Americans are in a way crazy. We ...

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