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Narcissism and its Discontents

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 February 1980

Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Jean Rhys.
Deutsch, 173 pp., £4.95, November 1980, 0 233 97213 7
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Jean Rhys: A Critical Study 
by Thomas Staley.
Macmillan, 140 pp., £10, November 1980, 0 333 24522 9
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My Blue Notebooks 
by Liane dePougy, translated by Diana Athill.
Deutsch, 288 pp., £7.50, October 1980, 0 233 97141 6
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The Maimie Papers 
edited by Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson.
Virago, 450 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 86068 114 9
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Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Hugo Vickers.
Weidenfeld, 299 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 297 77652 5
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... still be the case that good looks are a currency which can be put to good use or to bad. Take Liane dePougy, ‘celebrated cascadeuse of the Belle Epoque’, as Anita Brookner has described her. She was, for most of her life, one of the most beautiful and elegant women in France, had a triumphant career as a ...

Love-of-One’s-Life Department

Terry Castle: The lesbian scarcity economy, 21 October 2004

Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks 
by Diana Souhami.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £18.99, July 2004, 9780297643869
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... faces, clothes and attitudes of the main players – like those dreary Art Deco canvases of Tamara de Lempicka now reproduced everywhere on postcards and Taschen calendars – have become all too familiar. Romaine Brooks’s hideous painting of Una Troubridge (with pet dachshunds) in male drag and monocle? Take it away, Madame, tout ...


Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... idea that books could be composed in motion, and made the more moving for it. We met in the Rue de Sèvres, in the Rue du Bac, in the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Our feet took us to the same Vietnamese restaurant, to the same cafés, and, at different moments, to the same television studios where he held forth before the cameras in a way that would have put ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... Peggy Guggenheim, Djuna Barnes. Figures associated with Proust would sometimes be there – Lily de Gramont, the duchesse de Clermont-Tonnerre, for instance, whom Barney insisted on introducing to Capote (an interest in celebrities was ‘one of her hang-ups’). Many were queer women. ‘Miss Barney’s circle was not ...

How not to be disgusting

Anne Hollander, 6 December 1990

Coco Chanel: A Biography 
by Axel Madsen.
Bloomsbury, 388 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 7475 0762 7
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... quite suitable to her carefully tended personal image, so akin to those of Lola Montez and Liane dePougy, or those of Garbo and Callas. Madsen’s book takes note of the variability of Chanel’s own accounts of events, and gives several if no single one can be authenticated. He clearly knows French well, but ...

Adieu, madame

Terry Castle: Sarah Bernhardt, 4 November 2010

Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Yale, 233 pp., £18.99, October 2010, 978 0 300 14127 6
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... say She Was Doing the Best She Could. 2. The First Rakish Lover-Patron. The dapper Prince Henri de Ligne, moustachioed Belgian man of the world and ‘fantastic swell’, who set Sarah on her way in the more Nana-like circles of Parisian high society. He seems to have picked her up in the Tuileries Gardens one day. Bernhardt always had at the ready a more ...

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