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He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt, 21 May 2020

My Dark Vanessa 
by Kate ElizabethRussell.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £12.99, March 2020, 978 0 00 834224 1
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... him. He lives in a clean and spartan house that he stocks with crisps, ice cream and Cherry Coke. Kate ElizabethRussell flags up all the warning signs to which Vanessa remains oblivious. Strane goes through a performance of initially asking for her consent – the abuser wants to believe that his victim is his knowing ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... in New York told me that the historian Peter Lake told him that J.G.A. Pocock told him that Conrad Russell told him that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in ...


Christopher Turner: Summerhill School and the real Orgasmatron, 3 June 2004

... The school’s motto continues to be ‘giving children back their childhood’. Bertrand Russell, like Neill, preached the benefits of an unconstrained childhood. Neill said that Russell’s On Education (1926) was the only book on the topic he’d read without uttering an expletive, while ...


Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... called Hunt’), or the meaning of the abbreviations PWR, IWICSLMSK and BHQ (respectively, Pee-Wee Russell, ‘I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate’ and ‘Bastard Headquarters’, meaning God’s Heaven, or, more generally, the place where things go wrong or get fucked up, said in one letter to be located in ...

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 ...

Was Plato too fat?

Rosemary Hill: The Stuff of Life, 10 October 2019

Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life 
by Christopher Forth.
Reaktion, 352 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 78914 062 0
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... as a metaphysical doctrine, it was designed to stabilise both state and monarchy. As set out in Elizabeth I’s reign it decreed that The King has in him two Bodies, viz, a Body natural, and a Body politic. His Body natural (if it be considered in itself) is a Body mortal, subject to all Infirmities … But his Body politic is a Body that cannot be seen or ...

A Moustache Too Far

Danny Karlin: Melville goes under, 8 May 2003

Herman Melville: A Biography. Vol. II: 1851-91 
by Hershel Parker.
Johns Hopkins, 997 pp., £31, May 2002, 0 8018 6892 0
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... of the middlebrow culture whose laureate was Longfellow and whose critical arbiter was James Russell Lowell, and from which Melville, unlike Henry James or Whitman, could not escape. Melville’s doomed attempt, in the late 1840s, to make himself into a country squire at Arrowhead, his farm in the Berkshires, epitomises the family legacy of social ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... and theory: Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Jonathan Goldberg, Judith Fetterley, Jean Schwind, Elizabeth Ammons. Acocella takes no prisoners. She is queen of the devastating citation, and more than happy to let the jargon-mad professors hang themselves. Thus poor Robert Nelson, author of a 1988 book on the novelist, gets mercilessly dinged for writing ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... when I come back and decide, rather doubtfully, that they must have been golden orioles. However Kate M. tells me that they were probably parakeets, which are spreading rapidly in London (a large colony at Sunbury apparently) and may one day oust the pigeons. Yorkshire, 29 March. The conductor on the GNER train to Leeds is now styled Customer Operations ...

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