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Half Snake, Half Panther

James Davidson: Nijinsky

26 September 2013
Nijinsky 
by Lucy Moore.
Profile, 324 pp., £25, May 2013, 978 1 84668 618 4
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... perhaps overstating his case. ‘I hated him, but I put up a pretence, for I knew that my mother and I would starve to death.’ Following the Paris season Diaghilev took him to Venice, for what LucyMoore in her new biography describes as ‘an unconventional honeymoon’. In 1910, the god of the dance returned to Paris. This time he starred in Schéhérazade. The fun-loving Queen Zobéide ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Awful Truth’

24 May 2018
... in a truth, as Irene Dunne is. This is the phrase Dunne herself uses: ‘You come home and caught me in a truth – and it seems there’s nothing less logical than the truth.’ They are Jerry and Lucy Warriner, happily married, indeed made for each other, as the film goes on to show, although he needs to escape from his bliss now and again. He’s been in New York while pretending to be in Florida ...

Fiction and E.M. Forster

Frank Kermode: At the Cost of Life

10 May 2007
... doubted if the authority of the speaker had been less. Britten also remarked that he had heard Forster play Beethoven sonatas ‘with spirit’. There are, I think, only three pianists in the novels: Lucy Honeychurch, a mysterious Miss Quested who plays MacDowell, though inaudibly, in Howards End, and, perhaps surprisingly, Leonard Bast, also of that novel. Bast plays, but, according to the manuscript ...

Excessive Weeping

Lauren Oyler: Nicole Flattery’s Stories

10 October 2019
Show Them a Good Time 
by Nicole Flattery.
Bloomsbury, 238 pp., £14.99, March, 978 1 5266 1190 1
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... story, a former prostitute has ‘a personality that was best suited to short interactions’ – but some of the most concrete aspects of the book are provided by the dialogue, which, as in Lorrie Moore or Deborah Eisenberg, often contains much of the stories’ movement as it delivers funny little zaps to the main character’s perspective. In ‘Parrot’, a young woman working as a temp laughs at ...

Paul and Penny

Julian Symons

25 October 1990
Paul Scott: A Life 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hutchinson, 429 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 09 173984 5
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Paul Scott’s Raj 
by Robin Moore.
Heinemann, 246 pp., £18.50, October 1990, 0 434 47588 2
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... such passages, produced by a writer who often replaced some scenes by others, but never contemplated or perhaps understood the idea of achieving effects by compression or omission. Nothing in Robin Moore’s book bears directly on the literary merits of the Quartet, although he thinks that the TV serial lost much of ‘the texture of testimony’, the ‘intimation of character’. He also, however ...

Good Manners

Craig Raine

17 May 1984
The Collected Prose of Elizabeth Bishop 
edited by Robert Giroux.
Chatto, 278 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2809 7
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... difficult social terrain in a ramshackle, makeshift affair which keeps breaking down. For once, the Americans are not in the driving seat dictating the direction. In the stunning memoir of Marianne Moore, this preoccupation is, if anything, more pronounced. Again, there is the same mixture of tactful respect, forbearance, even admiration, and a wry agnosticism. The absolutes promulgated by Miss Moore ...
19 September 1996
Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Puzzles in 19th-Century Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Oxford, 262 pp., £3.99, June 1996, 9780192825162
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... a shady premium in Vanity Fair, and by not having any Becky remains her own kind of heroine. Then what about the puzzle that concludes Villette? Did Paul Emanuel survive the storm and return to marry Lucy Snowe? Or was he drowned? Charlotte Brontë produces a subtle variation on the gross Thackerayan formula. The ‘kind heart’ and ‘sunny imagination’ is allowed to conceive ‘the delight of joy ...
18 February 1988
... Primrose, her only daughter, unaccountably studying psychology at the university, will make a brilliant union with one of the visiting English aristocracy. Unfortunately, George foists his aunt, Mrs Lucy Brankston of Goulburn, a descendant of true pioneers, on the Women’s Advisory Committee as guest of honour, and Aunt Lucy makes a great stand against ‘ancient oppression and snobbery’ by ...

I’m a Cahunian

Adam Mars-Jones: Claude Cahun

2 August 2018
Never Anyone But You 
by Rupert Thomson.
Corsair, 340 pp., £18.99, June 2018, 978 1 4721 5350 0
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... Rupert Thomson’s​ new novel follows the contours of a remarkable life. Lucy Schwob, born in 1894 to a cultured and prosperous Nantes family, moved to Paris in 1920, where she developed strong links with the Surrealist movement and adopted the name Claude Cahun. Though she ...

I myself detest all Modern Art

Anne Diebel: Scofield Thayer

8 April 2015
The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer 
by James Dempsey.
Florida, 240 pp., £32.50, February 2014, 978 0 8130 4926 7
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... Vechten, who shamelessly made sure his name was associated with those he helped. Thayer had some literary ability – he wrote the Dial’s wry unsigned ‘Comment’ column, and poetry that Marianne Moore praised as ‘reflective, bi-visioned and rather wilfully unconventional’ – but his most important work was as a patron, not a promoter. He left the hawking to people like Ezra Pound, ‘that ...
30 March 1989
Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... fairly large scale seem still to be what art students are most encouraged to make. Critics now incline to applaud in them evidence of a strenously physical relationship with paint. Thus Mali Morris, Lucy Ellmann tells us, works ‘with acrylic on unstretched canvas on the floor ... pulling gobs of paint a little way or densely caking colour on, with rough or gentle strokes. The paint sometimes seems ...

Husbands and Wives

Terry Castle: Claude & Marcel, Gertrude & Alice

13 December 2007
Don’t Kiss Me: The Art of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore 
edited by Louise Downie.
Tate Gallery, 240 pp., £25, June 2006, 1 59711 025 6
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Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice 
by Janet Malcolm.
Yale, 229 pp., £16.99, October 2007, 978 0 300 12551 1
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... experiments are truly extraordinary. In a discomfiting series of self-portraits rediscovered in the 1980s – most of them apparently produced in the 1920s and 1930s with the assistance of Marcel Moore, the lesbian companion with whom she lived as a recluse on the island of Jersey between 1937 and 1954 – the wildly androgynous artist can be seen vamping it up in a boggling array of cross-sex get ...

Amor vincit Vinnie

Marilyn Butler

21 February 1985
Foreign Affairs 
by Alison Lurie.
Joseph, 291 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 7181 2516 9
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... Bleeding Heart, Malcolm Bradbury’s Stepping Westward and Rates of Exchange, and David Lodge’s Changing Places and Small World. Now, all around the large cabin, other refugees from Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only and from Gene Wilder in The Woman in Red have their noses stuck into novels. Could it be that a certain kind of novel is being produced for this very market, just as a certain ...

Believe it or not

Rebecca Mead: America’s National Story Project

7 February 2002
True Tales of American Life 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 416 pp., £16.99, November 2001, 0 571 21050 3
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... writes: ‘Falling in love is like painting yourself into a corner. Thrilled by the colour you’ve laid down around you, you forget about freedom shrinking at your back.’ It’s an image Lorrie Moore might be proud of. In another compelling story, ‘Isolation’ by Lucy Hayden, an unwelcome cousin who comes to visit a house of bereaved teenagers is ‘loud and talkative and moved through us like ...

Another Mother

Frank Kermode

13 May 1993
Morgan: A Biography of E.M. Forster 
by Nicola Beauman.
Hodder, 404 pp., £20, May 1993, 0 340 52530 4
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... to Merz again, at any rate in any recognisable manner, even in his private journals. One is reminded of the comment on Fielding and Hamidullah in A Passage to India: they regretted the death of Mrs Moore, ‘but they were middle-aged men, who had invested their emotions elsewhere, and outbursts of grief could not be expected from them over a slight acquaintance.’ Furbank, who of course knew the ...

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