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Women beware midwives

Tom Shippey, 10 May 1990

The Medieval Woman 
by Edith Ennan, translated by Edmund Jephcott.
Blackwell, 327 pp., £32.50, November 1989, 9780631161660
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Not of woman born: Representations of Caesarean Birth in Medieval and Renaissance Culture 
by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski.
Cornell, 204 pp., $27.95, March 1990, 0 8014 2292 2
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Childhood in the Middle Ages 
by Shulamith Shahar.
Routledge, 342 pp., £35, May 1990, 0 415 02624 5
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Lovesickness in the Middle Ages: The Viaticum and its Commentaries 
by Mary Wack.
Pennsylvania, 354 pp., $39.95, February 1990, 9780812281422
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Barbarolexis: Medieval Writing and Sexuality 
by Alexandre Leupin, translated by Kate Cooper.
Harvard, 261 pp., £27.95, July 1990, 0 674 06170 5
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... Powerful books have been written, and will continue to be written, on feminism and Medieval studies, but Edith Ennen’s The Medieval Woman is not among them. It is full of information, especially on matters towards the end of her period of study, and much of the information cannot help being amusing or thought-provoking, on an anecdotal level: how uniquely contemptuous it was to make the prostitutes of Cologne give sixpence a week each to the town executioner, the man responsible for flogging or hanging them if they defaulted! How strange it is that the famous ius primae noctis, great horror of the Middle Ages to such as Mark Twain, should have been recorded only among the aggressively democratic Swiss cantons round Zürich (perhaps proving that nobody ever meant it seriously ...

Third World

Frank Kermode, 2 March 1989

... reeked of the Forties and Fifities, a monument to the deluded cultural presuppositions of its day. Kate Whitehead, who is now a Radio Four producer – to judge by her book, a shrewd choice of channel – hit upon the Third as a topic for research in institutional history.* Her prose, efficiently trawling the bureaucratic facts, would serve equally well for a ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... the chronological sequence (every decade has a room); to the right is an eclectic group of images: Kate Moss’s silhouetted profile on gold (the millennium cover), two Corinne Day photographs (one of Kate again) and some earlier monochrome prints, including George Hoyningen-Huene’s 1930 Modern Mariners Put out to Sea, of ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 19 January 1989

The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... stories demonstrates the writer’s early affinities with Hawthorne and her own great-uncle Cooper as well as with female contemporaries like Sarah Orne Jewett and Kate Chopin. Both in such romantic and allegorical tales as ‘The Lady of Little Fishing’ (1874) and ‘Castle Nowhere’ (1875) and in the more ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012, 3 January 2013

... Chelsea and so brightens considerably. Meanwhile lurking by the door HMQ is due to come through is Kate O’Mara and when I next look lining up to meet Her Majesty are Ms O’Mara along with Joan Collins and Shirley Bassey, the impression being that anyone can get to speak to the monarch provided you’re pushy enough. But it’s all very casual, so much so ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?, 21 August 2014

Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... but also that of Lutyens, Giles Gilbert Scott, Charles Holden and lesser lights such as Edwin Cooper or W. Curtis Green. Practically every Georgian terrace they can find features in the book. They disapprove of the City’s ‘untidy and expanding cluster’ of skyscrapers, and are more pleased with the beaux-arts plan that defines the placing of ...

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