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4 August 1988
Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... palazzi but ragazzi even the loss of the American colonies was in part attributable to the fact, alleged by Rousseau, that the commander of the British forces was gay. Although Felicity Nussbaum and LauraBrown diplomatically avoid so vivid a phrase as ‘prudery and cowardice’, their charges against the conservatism of the Augustan establishment are scarcely less severe. For them the taboo areas ...

On Laura​ Kasischke

Stephanie Burt: Laura​ Kasischke

2 August 2018
... Where Now​ is Laura Kasischke’s tenth book of verse (Copper Canyon, £23). She has also written young adult novels, science fiction, historical fiction, books you might label as mysteries or thrillers, and realist ...

Who needs a welfare state?

Deborah Friedell: The Little House Books

22 November 2012
The Little House Books 
by Laura​ Ingalls Wilder.
Library of America, 1490 pp., £56.50, August 2012, 978 1 59853 162 6
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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 
by Wendy McClure.
Riverhead, 336 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 59448 568 8
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... than 250 Hmong live there, and run two grocery stores. Little House on the Prairie was Ronald Reagan’s favourite television programme and also, by some accounts, Saddam Hussein’s. It was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s eight novels, which have now entered the Library of America as The Little House Books: the first Tea Party favourites to join its ranks. Rose Wilder Lane, who wrote the books with ...

What happened to Flora?

Michael Wood: Nabokov’s Cards

7 January 2010
The Original of Laura(Dying is Fun) A Novel in Fragments 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 278 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 14 119115 7
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... in life he told the New York Times what he was currently reading he listed three books: a translation of Dante’s Inferno, a book on North American butterflies, and his own novel The Original of Laura. Wait a minute. If he was reading it, why can’t we, why are we stranded with a small handful of fragments, however luminous (some of them)? Well, he was reading it as he wrote it, the thing was ...


Jacqueline Rose: ‘Specimen Days’

22 September 2005
Specimen Days 
by Michael Cunningham.
Fourth Estate, 308 pp., £14.99, August 2005, 0 00 715605 7
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... more widely stretched and less exactly charted – are wilder. And Whitman, in some of the novel’s least successful moments, walks straight into two of the tales. Above all, he is not just read, as LauraBrown read Woolf in The Hours, making but not quite making Woolf’s tragic story her own. Or named, as Clarissa is named for Mrs Dalloway, making her party for the Aids-stricken Richard a reprise ...

Swinging it

Mark Ford

7 July 1988
S.J. Perelman: A Life 
by Dorothy Herrmann.
Simon and Schuster, 337 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 671 65460 8
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Don’t tread on me: The Selected Letters of S.J. Perelman 
edited by Prudence Crowther.
Viking, 372 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 670 81759 7
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... brought with them they lost first in a dry goods store, then in a chicken farm. Sid had an uneventful childhood during which his primary obsessions were cartooning, pulp fiction and the movies. At Brown University he became editor of the humorous magazine, the Brown Jug, and met Nathan Weinstein, who later changed his name to Nathanael West; Sid himself had originally been named Simeon. That ...


Anne Enright: Looking at the Wallpaper

2 January 1997
... work. It was an Irish woman who said to me, ‘We had it in the box-room,’ when I saw the carpet her father had so carefully cut and laid on the floor of her Morris Minor, swirls of gick green on a brown smear with yellow specks. Box-room, my eye. She crawled over that carpet from the living-room into the hall when she was two and loved every dizzy bit of it. Now she has to drive around in it, give ...

War on God! That is Progress!

Susan Watkins: Paul Lafargue and French socialism

13 May 1999
Paul Lafargue and the Flowering of French Socialism, 1882-1911 
by Leslie Derfler.
Harvard, 382 pp., £27.95, July 1998, 0 674 65912 0
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... their seats in the Reichstag to advance the cause. But Lafargue thought better of venturing into the Chamber again. ‘Why in the devil’s name doesn’t Paul speak?’ Engels wrote in perplexity to Laura Lafargue, as one government scandal succeeded another. Nobody outside France could make out why he was allowing this ‘splendid opportunity’ to slip through his fingers. ‘My dear Lafargue, buck ...

A Bowl of Wheetos

Eleanor Birne: Julie Myerson’s hauntings

20 July 2006
The Story of You 
by Julie Myerson.
Cape, 312 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 0 224 07801 1
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... adults often die too. In Me and the Fat Man the narrator’s mother has drowned in the Aegean. In Something Might Happen, her best novel, a young mother is stabbed to death in a Suffolk seaside town. Laura Blundy (2000) – which is historical rather than domestic gothic and so more eventful – opens with Laura battering her red-headed husband to death. Laura’s baby survives, but she has had to give ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan

21 June 1984
Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... truculent cab-drivers, blue jeans, junk food: all such evils make him prickly and satiric. Burgess’s xenophobia or Enderby’s? You can’t read something like the account of dinner with Mrs Laura Schoenbaum – the theatre patroness who shares the name of Shakespeare’s best biographer – without feeling that it’s the author who’s grinding axes. When, to take one instance, an idiotic ...

Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp

1 May 1980
A Country Calendar 
by Flora Thompson, edited by Margaret Lane.
Oxford, 307 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780192117533
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... each other ‘rosebud’, gossip about breach-of-promise suits (then a regular newspaper feature) and concoct quizzes ovet tea: Do you prefer Diekens on Thackeray Tennyson or Browning? White meat or brown? Men or women? They are treated with distant kindness. She forms a more intense association with a brother and sister, visitors from London, who are full of the fin de siècle spirit: together, they ...
4 June 1981
Three Trapped Tigers 
by G. Cabrera Infante.
Picador, 487 pp., £2.95, August 1980, 0 330 26133 9
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... writer by day and a drummer by night, unsuccessfully pursues the young heiress Vivian Smith-Corona Alvarez de Real; a large number of sensationally beautiful women, Magalena and Irenita and Livia and Laura and Mirtila and especially the super-luscious Cuba Venegas, strut their stuff; it seems remarkably easy to fondle their breasts but almost impossible to get beyond that stage. Cuba Venegas was born ...

Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS

21 April 2005
Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... the long-term commitments onto the hospital trusts, regardless of the other demands on their services. But the Treasury can hardly be accused of being self-deceived by acting in this way: Gordon Brown is not like those 16th-century Spanish monarchs who insisted that the interest payments on their debts should be left off their accounts because they found it too demeaning to be reminded of them ...


John Sutherland: Do books have a future?

25 May 2006
... get books direct from the nearby publisher. As the two chains established themselves so behind them did two large, electronically sophisticated wholesalers, Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor. As Laura Miller notes, these wholesalers’ speed and reliability of delivery ‘rationalised book distribution by enabling booksellers to implement a “just in time” strategy’.* The cultural tone of the ...


M.J. Hyland: A memoir

6 May 2004
... on and a plate of toast on my lap, and feel very little. It surprised me even then how little I felt. I was curious, mostly, about the rats and snakes: How big were they? Were they black or brown? But I don’t remember caring about how he felt. I was 13 and I wanted my new fantasy life to begin. But at the time, there seemed little chance I would become anything but a criminal, too. I was ...

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