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Whose body is it?

Ian Hacking: Transplants, 14 December 2006

Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies and the Transformed Self 
by Lesley Sharp.
California, 307 pp., £15.95, October 2006, 0 520 24786 8
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... the new-born kinship between a recipient and the donor’s family, especially the mother. Lesley Sharp has paid her traditional anthropological dues, studying a village in Madagascar where mortuary rituals have a central role in communal life. Now she has turned to the practices of life and death in America, in its hospitals, in the mourning of ...

Risks

Tom Paulin, 1 August 1985

On the Contrary 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by Ewald Osers.
Bloodaxe, 126 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 906427 75 4
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The Lamentation of the Dead 
by Peter Levi.
Anvil, 40 pp., £2.95, October 1984, 0 85646 140 7
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Levi.
Anvil, 255 pp., £12, November 1984, 0 85646 134 2
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Elegies 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.50, March 1985, 0 571 13570 6
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Poems: 1963-1983 
by Michael Longley.
Salamander, 206 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 904011 77 1
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Making for the Open: The Chatto Book of Post-Feminist Poetry 
edited by Carol Rumens.
Chatto, 151 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 7011 2848 8
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Direct Dialling 
by Carol Rumens.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 7011 2911 5
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The Man Named East 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 137 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 7102 0014 5
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... the poet and the critic know that the act of writing is both necessary and absurd. This is the sharp, precise point of ‘Swans in Flight’, where the swans circle ‘and that means that Fortinbras’s army is approaching. That Hamlet will be saved and that an extra act will be played. In all translations, in all theatres, behind all curtains and without ...

Still messing with our heads

Christopher Clark: Hitler in the Head, 7 November 2019

Hitler: A Life 
by Peter Longerich.
Oxford, 1324 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 19 879609 1
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Hitler: Only the World Was Enough 
by Brendan Simms.
Allen Lane, 668 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 1 84614 247 5
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... Hitler. To turn to Peter Longerich’s Hitler: A Life, superbly translated by Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe, is to re-encounter the sober, appraising diction that Knausgaard deplores in Kershaw’s writing. Longerich is in no doubt that his subject was emotionally ‘retarded’ and unable to feel empathy. Hitler’s early life reveals, he writes, a ...

Larks

Patricia Craig, 19 September 1985

But for Bunter 
by David Hughes.
Heinemann, 223 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 434 35410 4
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Bunter Sahib 
by Daniel Green.
Hodder, 272 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 340 36429 7
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The Good Terrorist 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 370 pp., £9.50, September 1985, 0 224 02323 3
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Unexplained Laughter 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 155 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7156 2070 3
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Polaris and Other Stories 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 237 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 340 33227 1
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... another’s memory of goings-on at Greyfriars’. When, at the opening of the novel, his ex-wife Lesley remarks blandly that Billy Bunter is still alive, he thinks it’s a snide allusion to his over-eating. However, Lesley is being literal. She means that the model for Bunter has become an 89-year-old enfant terrible, at ...

Lunch

Jon Halliday, 2 June 1983

In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... tries to speed Britain into joining the ‘newly submerging countries’ it is useful to have so sharp and yet so complicit a description of our vulnerability. Radji records only one person who refused his hospitality: Philip Roth (though there were others). The title is apt. Radji was indeed ‘in the service’ of a narcissistic and obsessive monarch, a ...

A Bit of Ginger

Theo Tait: Gordon Burn, 5 June 2008

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel 
by Gordon Burn.
Faber, 214 pp., £15.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 19729 3
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... Alma Cogan collectors’ item: a recording of Hindley and Ian Brady torturing their fourth victim, Lesley Ann Downey, while Cogan’s Christmas novelty hit ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ plays on Radio Luxembourg in the background. Being famous doesn’t just mean ‘enduring the bizarre projections of others’, Cogan explains, it means constantly being ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... forgiven, and feasted together at one another’s tables,’ the editors record. A particularly sharp fight must have been fought on the nature of the entries. The editors settled on a conservative dictionary of biography format with a leavening of category entries on such topics as ‘Pseudonyms’, ‘Black Feminist Criticism’, ‘Science ...

Sick Boys

Jenny Turner, 2 December 1993

Trainspotting 
by Irvine Welsh.
Secker, 344 pp., £8.99, July 1993, 0 436 56567 6
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... The gadges move a few steps back and watch in silence as ah cook. The fuckers will huv tae wait. Lesley comes first, eftir me. That goes without saying.’ In form, Trainspotting is made up of connected story-cycles, some told in Renton’s voice, others by his friends. The effect, weirdly, is not of remoteness but of a shockingly close emotional ...

Rah, Rah, Cheers, Queers

Terry Castle: On Getting Married, 29 August 2013

... so we’ve heard, the sheep and goats are massing together in flash herds and rejoicing with old Lesley Gore songs. Real lesbian classics. (Not since Sappho … my … its … [party?] … Mytilene … naked Artemis … Judy’s turn … [cry?] …) Victory is sweet, even if glimpsed from afar. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Sunday denied a ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... kind to everybody and still attentive and devoted to my dear old Mother, who is hale and hearty, sharp as a needle and occasionally very cross indeed.’ It must be said that Coward bore this latter crossness with humour (‘Tuesday 20 April: Mother’s and Hitler’s birthday’) – and, further, that he was broadly right about himself, as many ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... was fading: Settle made Vogue a magazine for the Bright Young Things, who, according to Lesley Blanch, a contributor, were ‘cropped, plucked and pickled in cocktails and nicotine’. Vogue positioned itself as the authority for the new style. In Rosamond Lehmann’s Invitation to the Waltz, Kate goes to a dance in an apple-green frock (made ...

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