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Secret Purposes

P.N. Furbank, 19 September 1985

Defoe and the Idea of Fiction: 1713-1719 
by Geoffrey Sill.
Associated University Presses, 190 pp., £16.95, April 1984, 0 87413 227 4
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The Elusive Daniel Defoe 
by Laura Curtis.
Vision, 216 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 85478 435 7
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Dofoe’s Fiction 
by Ian Bell.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £17.95, March 1985, 0 7099 3294 4
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Realism, Myth and History in Defoe’s Fiction 
by Maximillian Novak.
Nebraska, 181 pp., £21.55, July 1983, 0 8032 3307 8
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... this indeed is what more recent critics have been tending to do. Of the books under review, both Laura Curtis’s and Geoffrey Sill’s offer an ethical rather than a socio-economic interpretation of the novel. Geoffrey Sill’s chapter on Robinson Crusoe strikes me as distinctly the weakest part of what is in some respects a very stimulating book, and ...

All I Did Was Marry Him

Elaine Showalter: Laura Bush’s Other Life, 6 November 2008

American Wife 
by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Doubleday, 558 pp., £11.99, October 2008, 978 0 385 61674 4
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... Curtis Sittenfeld’s new novel, American Wife, based on the life of Laura Bush, and sympathetic to her political non-choices, has been getting attention alongside the self-exonerating memoirs and withering insider analyses piling up in the final weeks of the Bush presidency. In its positive assessment of the couple’s marriage (fictionally presented as healthy, affectionate and hot), its willingness to leave ethical issues open to interpretation, and its warnings of the gap between the public and the private person, American Wife is being contrasted with the Oliver Stone movie, W ...

Round up the usual perverts

Michael Wood: ‘L.A. Confidential’, 1 January 1998

L.A. Confidential 
directed by Curtis Hanson.
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... politicians but also among policemen. He says in My Dark Places that homicide cops love the movie Laura – ‘A cop gets obsessed with a murder victim and finds out she’s still alive. She’s beautiful and mysterious. She falls in love with the cop’ – but that Double Indemnity is the flip-side of that film: ‘A man meets a woman and flushes his life ...

Short Cuts

David Renton: Vanity and Cupidity, 24 February 2022

... that figure.He was forced to resign from Parliament in 1912 when he was declared bankrupt: Eleanor Curtis, the daughter of one of his victims, had successfully sued him for the £50,000 stolen from her father. But his fortunes rose again during the First World War, when John Bull built up a circulation of two million. Labour leaders like Hardie and Ramsay ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... sensitive exit and a pretty corpse. Those who want a gust of emotion will usually go to a Richard Curtis film, or read one of Goodwin’s suggested poems for people feeling out-of-sorts. And if they rent Four Weddings and a Funeral they can have both at once, without having to leave their own heads, however briefly. ‘Accessibility’ is the ...

Their Mad Gallopade

Patrick McGuinness: Nancy Cunard, 25 January 2018

Selected Poems 
by Nancy Cunard.
Carcanet, 304 pp., £12.99, October 2016, 978 1 78410 236 4
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... were most closely in step with each other, Cunard – photographed by Cecil Beaton, Man Ray, Curtis Moffat, Cartier-Bresson, John Banting and others – was one of the figures in whom they converged. Gucci’s ‘Hard Deco’ line for Spring 2012 was launched in homage to ‘Louise Brooks and Nancy Cunard’. This edition of her poems chooses one of ...
Dust-bowl Migrants in the American Imagination 
by Charles Shindo.
Kansas, 252 pp., £22.50, January 1997, 0 7006 0810 9
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In the Country of Country 
by Nicholas Dawidoff.
Faber, 365 pp., £12.99, June 1997, 0 571 19174 6
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... house behind them, a miserable hut of miscellaneous logs and tarpaper. But the art historian James Curtis has shown that the reality was much less desperate. There was no dust storm: Rothstein couldn’t have shot the picture if there had been, and besides, the horizon is clearly visible. The building was a disused shack, not the family house, which can be ...


Deborah Friedell: The Heart and the Fist, 24 May 2018

... On election night, while I waited for the returns to come in, I kept tweeting at the writer Curtis Sittenfeld – other than the Greitenses, she was the only person I could think of who lived in Missouri. What was she seeing on the ground? In Sittenfeld’s novel American Wife, the character modelled on Laura Bush ...

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