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Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 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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... by Rousseau, that the commander of the British forces was gay. Although Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown 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 are not sexual but ideological. ‘Theory’ is the ...

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 novels about present-day adults – 22 books in all over 25 years. Usually, when I read a big Selected, I find myself thinking about how the poet has changed, how far she has come, or else about her limits and when she began to spin her wheels ...


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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... least successful moments, walks straight into two of the tales. Above all, he is not just read, as Laura Brown 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. In fact, in Specimen Days, Whitman is not read at ...

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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... 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 her mother, intended them to be a defence of ‘the ...

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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... 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 ‘completed in [his] mind’, and like many writers he was ...

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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... 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 Weinstein or West ended up a ...

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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... 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 up,’ Engels begged from London, during the early days of ...


Anne Enright: Looking at the Wallpaper, 2 January 1997

... 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 people lifts and lie, her clutch pedal pressed into the ...

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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... 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 ...

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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... 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 lawyer rounds on the innocent Enderby, over the cake and ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary, 15 December 2016

The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... felt strongly that it didn’t and shouldn’t. In order to cope with the demands of his mailbox, Laura Kuhn tells us, he adopted the Note-O-Gram – a new piece of technology that anticipated the functionality of email while retaining the aura of a letter. Cage would write in his blocky handwriting on a top sheet, over colour-coded reply sheets and carbon ...

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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... 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 cultivate their melancholy, quote Swinburne and pity the ...

Cuban Heels with Twisting Tongues

Salman Rushdie, 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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... 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 Gloria Perez before making it as a model and inspiring a ...


A.N. Wilson, 14 May 1992

Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... that may be). In 1952 he went all the way to Goa to venerate the body of St Francis Xavier. ‘One brown stump of toe emerging from white wrapping,’ he noted approvingly. ‘Body fully vested, one grey forearm and hand, and grey clay-like skull visible.’ This seems only a step away from the pet cemetery in Forest Lawn, and Waugh’s gleeful interviews with ...


John Sutherland: Do books have a future?, 25 May 2006

... 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 mall book-chains, and the wholesalers behind them, was ...

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