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I blame Foucault

Jenny Diski: Bush’s women

22 September 2005
Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species 
by Laura Flanders.
Verso, 342 pp., £10, July 2005, 1 84467 530 0
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... W. stands for women,’ cried Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Elaine Chao and Gale Ann Norton at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and in case the Good Ol’ Boy’s good old ladies didn’t get it, a ...

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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... it may be wisest, for the moment anyway, to give up ‘capitalism’ as a key to Robinson Crusoe, and 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 ...

Mizzlers

Patrick Parrinder

26 July 1990
The Sorrow of Belgium 
by Hugo Claus, translated by Arnold Pomerans.
Viking, 609 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 670 81456 3
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Joanna 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Virago, 260 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 85381 158 0
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A Sensible Life 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 364 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 9780593019306
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The Light Years 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Macmillan, 418 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 333 53875 7
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... is made to seem as inevitable as breathing. The protagonist, Louis Seynaeve, who is ten years old at the time of Munich, grows up in an enclosed and self-righteous little community in Catholic West Flanders. The Seynaeves are anti-semitic (though until the outbreak of war Louis has never set eyes on a Jew), anti-socialist, anti-French, anti-Protestant, anti-Brussels and anti-government. Their right-wing ...

I now, I then

Thomas Keymer: Life-Writing

16 August 2017
AHistory of English Autobiography 
edited by Adam Smyth.
Cambridge, 437 pp., £64.99, June 2016, 978 1 107 07841 3
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... To narrate individual consciousness requires equal attention to the individuals that surround it. But what if the self is not only relational but also plural? Influential accounts of the genre like Laura Marcus’s Auto/biographical Discourses (1994) have emphasised the way identity seemed to fracture in literary modernism. The story is now familiar, but it’s told by the later contributors to Smyth ...

Electroplated Fish Knife

Peter Howarth: Robert Graves’s Poems

6 May 2015
Robert Graves: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 136 pp., £15.99, August 2013, 978 0 571 28383 5
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... on land ‘trampled by no shod hooves, bought with no blood’ is not wholly new, either. The second phrase suggests his wish to escape the piety of his evangelical mother as much as the fields of Flanders, and he had already written caustic poems about both. There is something new in the poem’s tone, however. Earlier Graves poems present you with well-defined feelings: horror or peace or the creeps ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... admit that having started it, I could not put it down’; ‘In spite of my hardened exterior as a seasoned feminist, I was so “involved” that I would not be surprised to know that I blushed for Laura’ – alternate with contextual remarks of crushing banality: ‘The 17th century was a most exciting time, with its shifts in political power, and with its rise and fall of kings, there was ...

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