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Small Boys and Girls

Brigid Brophy, 4 February 1982

The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing for Writers, Editors and Speakers 
edited by Casey Miller and Kate Swift.
Women’s Press, 119 pp., £3.25, November 1981, 0 7043 3878 5
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... than Britain or the USA. And that conclusively pulls the rug out from under Casey Miller’s and Kate Swift’s Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing. Centuries of being unable to differentiate ‘he’ from ‘she’ have not made Hungarians non-sexist. There is not the smallest reason to expect that Britons and residents of the USA will turn non-sexist ...

Textual Harassment

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1984

The World, the Text and the Critic 
by Edward Said.
Faber, 327 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 571 13264 2
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The Deconstructive Turn: Essays in the Rhetoric of Philosophy 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 201 pp., £4.95, December 1983, 0 416 36140 4
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The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. VIII: The Present 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 619 pp., £3.50, October 1983, 0 14 022271 5
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... should be a minor typographical variant of the shorthand for ‘manuscript’. Casey Miller and Kate Swift, in Words and Women (1976), say Ms has been around since the 1940s, but remained largely unused and didn’t get into a dictionary until 1972. One factor in its resurgence was ‘the growth of direct mail selling’, for which the abbreviation was ...

What’s wrong with that man?

Christian Lorentzen: Donald Antrim, 20 November 2014

The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories 
by Donald Antrim.
Granta, 158 pp., £12.99, November 2014, 978 1 84708 649 5
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... Hobbes through The Age of Dryden, then veer left. This brings you face to face with Pope and Swift. You will not have noticed anything in translation. If you do encounter any French political writing, you’ll know you’re in the wrong corridor. You’ll have to make a half-turn and backtrack through Sir Walter Scott. This is tricky. Be careful not to ...

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt, 21 May 2020

My Dark Vanessa 
by Kate Elizabeth Russell.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £12.99, March, 978 0 00 834224 1
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... married his 13-year-old cousin. Strane teaches her the etymology of her name, invented by Jonathan Swift for a pupil 22 years younger than him. ‘Swift once knew a woman named Esther Vanhomrigh, nickname Essa,’ Strane tells her. ‘He broke her name apart and put it back together as something new … Van-Essa became ...

Tell me everything

Joanna Biggs: Facebook Feminism, 11 April 2013

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead 
by Sheryl Sandberg.
W.H. Allen, 230 pp., £14.99, March 2013, 978 0 7535 4162 3
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The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network 
by Katherine Losse.
Free Press, 256 pp., £18.99, July 2012, 978 1 4516 6825 4
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... facewash. She was only the second woman to join the company, so on her first day the email address was still available. As Facebook’s ur-Kate, she was ‘queen of a world in which every other Kate would be derived from my archetype’. While she wrote answers to ...

Short Cuts

Dominic Dromgoole and Clive Stafford Smith: Shakespeare in Guantánamo, 7 November 2013

... his own contribution to state affairs, happy to trash-talk the Duke behind his back, though swift to fall into line when his deceptions are confronted. He is punished by being forced to marry Kate Keepdown, the prostitute he jilted when she gave birth to his child. Lucio refers to this marriage as like ‘pressing to ...

In qualified praise of Stephen Vizinczey

Bryan Appleyard, 24 July 1986

Truth and Lies in Literature: Reviews and Essays 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 399 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 241 11805 0
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In Praise of Older Women: The Amorous Recollections of A.V. 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 192 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 241 11378 4
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... boss he says: ‘The book exudes moral insanity in the way most modern fiction does.’ Reviewing Kate Millett, he observes: ‘erection-anxiety is the main source of evil in the world.’ Truth and Lies in Literature, a collection of reviews and essays, is full of such stuff, and, indeed, his last collection, The Rules of Chaos, was dedicated to ‘those ...

Under Rose’s Rule

Tim Hilton, 3 April 1980

John Ruskin and Rose La Touche: Her Unpublished Diaries of 1861 and 1867 
edited by Van Akin Burd.
Oxford, 192 pp., £6.95, January 1980, 0 19 812633 6
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... kind of ability. That was not all: she could dazzle the Anglo-Irish undergraduate J.G. Swift MacNeill (the most likely such academic intermediary) with her beauty, wit, humane attitude to the peasants, splendid horsemanship and sundry other lovable Irish qualities. This was in 1872, just when Rose was planning a rapprochement with Ruskin that was ...


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

... 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 France). It cost the Huntington $90,000 to obtain the Amis archive and not everyone approved ...

Pick the small ones

Marina Warner: Girls Are Rubbish, 17 February 2005

Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World 
by Mineke Schipper.
Yale, 422 pp., £35, April 2004, 0 300 10249 6
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... her bosun Germaine Greer beside her, and her crew of investigators fast behind (they include Kate Millett, purser; Mary Daly, doctor; Erica Jong, navigator). Soon, the whole group is making earnest inquiry of the only untouched indigenous individuals they will ever have the good fortune to question, for Dorinda and Hippolito have no knowledge of ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... sound-bites from a phantom Smith Square manifesto. Two coppers can’t sit down for a swift half without debating the morality of capital punishment. (‘I happen to believe that the death penalty does deter, so what I’m saying is that I’m willing for innocent people to take a greater chance of being murdered so that I can salve my conscience ...

Snail Slow

Colm Tóibín: Letters to John McGahern, 27 January 2022

The Letters of John McGahern 
edited by Frank Shovlin.
Faber, 851 pp., £30, September 2021, 978 0 571 32666 2
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... contact with him except through his work and it has always seemed phoney to me.’ On the novelist Kate O’Brien: ‘I find literary people bore me to almost the point of violence.’ On Austin Clarke, the reigning high priest of Irish poetry: ‘a sentimentalist gone sour’.Among McGahern’s circle was the painter Patrick ...

Little Bastard

Patrick Collinson: Learning to be Queen, 6 July 2000

Elizabeth: Apprenticeship 
by David Starkey.
Chatto, 339 pp., £20, April 2000, 0 7011 6939 7
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Elizabeth I: Collected Works 
edited by Leah Marcus and Janel Mueller.
Chicago, 436 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 226 50464 6
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... unshakeable confidence in her closest servants, and especially in her ‘mistress’, Kate Ashley, who had herself behaved dangerously. Such loyalties, some of the few sentimental streaks in her character, were perhaps related to the insecurity of her parental relationships: a mother decapitated, a father she almost never saw. More lessons from ...

A Knife to the Heart

Susan Pedersen: Did the Suffragettes succeed?, 30 August 2018

Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes 
by Diane Atkinson.
Bloomsbury, 670 pp., £30, February 2018, 978 1 4088 4404 5
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Hearts and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote 
by Jane Robinson.
Doubleday, 374 pp., £20, January 2018, 978 0 85752 391 4
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... humourless militants, I was pleased to make the acquaintance of the constitutionalist organiser Kate Frye, who wasn’t above using her good looks to enlist male help: she shouldn’t flirt so much, she wrote in her diary, but it did get things moving and ‘in some moods, I could flirt with a broomstick.’ Robinson pays refreshing attention to the high ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman, 2 July 2015

The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... poetry, reciting ‘Lycidas’, comparing the virtues of Browning, Tennyson, Hopkins, Arnold, Swift, Dunbar, Henryson, Chatterton, Chaucer and Gray. Lowell noted the value of Berryman’s hard work on Shakespeare, listening to him ‘quote with vibrance to all lengths, even prose, even late Shakespeare, to show what could be done with disrupted and mended ...

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