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Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend.’ For the older generation, Princess Margaret was the unlucky princess. She was our Diana: capricious, passionate, vindictive, doomed to fall in love with rotters, the breakaway royal who hung out with actors and rogues and who was frozen out by a cold-hearted court, finding contentment only in her ...

Death for Elsie

Christopher Ricks, 7 August 1986

Found in the Street 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 277 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 9780434335244
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Private Papers 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 214 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 7011 2987 5
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... family incrimination and recrimination and of likeness disliked by both parties, mother and child. Margaret Forster has a good ear for paranoia, as well as for the paranoia of that accusation itself. ‘All that is absolute rubbish, a clear case of paranoia’ – as if paranoia weren’t always desperately cunning at not permitting of a clear case, rather as ...

Even what doesn’t happen is epic

Nick Richardson: Chinese SF, 8 February 2018

The Three-Body Problem 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 416 pp., £8.99, January 2016, 978 1 78497 157 1
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The Dark Forest 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen.
Head of Zeus, 512 pp., £8.99, July 2016, 978 1 78497 161 8
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Death’s End 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 724 pp., £8.99, May 2017, 978 1 78497 165 6
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The Wandering Earth 
by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 447 pp., £8.99, October 2017, 978 1 78497 851 8
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Invisible Planets 
edited and translated by Ken Liu.
Head of Zeus, 383 pp., £8.99, September 2017, 978 1 78669 278 8
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... gives it a very different feel to most current Western sci-fi (China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer, Margaret Atwood and others), which is largely pro-left. It’s not just the books’ portrayal of revolutionary groups and the state’s economic role. In the novels, the world hundreds of years in the future is still organised cladistically: America is a power ...

Vampiric Words

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 26 May 1994

The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing and Imprisonment 
by Maud Ellmann.
Virago, 136 pp., £7.99, September 1993, 1 85381 675 2
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... the body, but that is another proposition altogether. Similar questions arise in the treatment of Richardson’s Clarissa, the protracted dying of whose heroine prompts an extended comparison with the grim rituals practised in the Irish hunger strike of 1981. Disarmingly acknowledging some obvious incongruities of this conjunction – between fiction and ...

Vibrations

Margaret Anne Doody, 5 August 1993

The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in 18th-century Britain 
by G.J. Barker-Benfield.
Chicago, 520 pp., £39.95, October 1992, 0 226 03713 4
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Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel: The Senses in Social Context 
by Ann Jessie van Sant.
Cambridge, 143 pp., £27.95, January 1993, 0 521 40226 3
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Drunks, Whores and Idle Apprentices: Criminal Biographies of the 18th Century 
by Philip Rawlings.
Routledge, 222 pp., £40, October 1992, 0 415 05056 1
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Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830 
by Rictor Norton.
Gay Men’s Press, 302 pp., £12.95, September 1992, 0 85449 188 0
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... every thing clever and agreeable can be so common as this word So wrote Lady Bradshaigh to Samuel Richardson in 1749. She is not the only person to have been puzzled by the phenomenon of the sentimental, both word and thing; nor by the equally proliferating possibilities and applications of the word ‘sensibility’. A great many modern commentators have ...

I am an irregular verb

Margaret Anne Doody: Laetitia Pilkington, 22 January 1998

Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington 
edited by A.C. Elias.
Georgia, 348497 pp., £84.95, May 1997, 0 8203 1719 5
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... themselves, her riposte to all who have despitefully used her. They thus coincide oddly with Richardson’s Clarissa (1747-48), though in that instance the heroine has to trust that the posthumous editing of collected papers will do her justice. Both Mrs Pilkington’s Memoirs and Clarissa are works of vindication, retorts to a cruel and wrongheaded ...

Docility Rampant

Margaret Anne Doody, 31 October 1996

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Romance Writings 
edited by Isobel Grundy.
Oxford, 276 pp., £14.50, August 1996, 0 19 812288 8
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... Aubin – against whom she reacts, as she was to react, in a more complicated manner, against Richardson. Both stylistically and philosophically, we can see the influence of La Rochefoucauld, although it is also true that Hobbes and Mandeville made a deep impression. She is familiar with the work of Fontenelle – of whom she makes fun, turning him into a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: The films of Carol Reed, 19 October 2006

Odd Man Out 
directed by Carol Reed.
September 2006
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... Night Train to Munich (1940) is a sort of ironic remake of The Lady Vanishes, complete with Margaret Lockwood and Naunton Wayne – but Hitchcock is interested in the nightmare of error rather than the death of charity. The Fallen Idol seems a little dated on a new viewing, its images and plot-points signalled too bluntly and too frequently. How often ...

The Killing of Blair Peach

David Renton, 22 May 2014

... on 23 April 1979, midway through the general election campaign that would end with the victory of Margaret Thatcher. The report contained footage of police officers arresting middle-aged men in turbans, women sitting down in the road and demonstrators with their heads swaddled in bandages. The final images showed around twenty NF supporters, all men, giving ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... he takes over from previous biographers. Like most of them, he tells how Olivier telephoned Ralph Richardson in the United States in August 1936 to ask if he should accept Guthrie’s offer of a Hamlet at the Vic. The transatlantic operator must have had difficulty connecting them: on 6 August, Richardson began a year’s ...

The Great Business

Nicholas Penny, 21 March 1985

Art of the 19th Century: Painting and Sculpture 
by Robert Rosenblum and H.W. Janson.
Thames and Hudson, 527 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 500 23385 3
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Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of 19th-Century Art 
by Charles Rosen and Henri Zerner.
Faber, 244 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 571 13332 0
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Géricault: His Life and Work 
by Lorenz Eitner.
Orbis, 376 pp., £40, March 1983, 0 85613 384 1
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Tradition and Desire: From David to Delacroix 
by Norman Bryson.
Cambridge, 277 pp., £27.50, August 1984, 0 521 24193 6
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... her of robes and jewels, sob and swoon. ‘The great business of painting,’ declared Jonathon Richardson the elder, echoing almost all earlier European writers on art from Alberti onwards, ‘is to relate a history or fable’ – to compete with the poet or dramatist, and best of all with epic and tragedy. The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Delaroche ...

Englishing Ourselves

F.W.J. Hemmings, 18 December 1980

Stendhal 
by Robert Alter.
Allen and Unwin, 285 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 04 928042 2
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... in order to encompass the ‘life of the books’ as well as the ‘life of the man’? Joanna Richardson, the last chapter of whose biography was entitled ‘Stendhal and Posterity’, evidently thought one should. (Her book, incidentally, appeared only six years ago; and ‘thick and fast they come at last,’ like Lewis Carroll’s oysters.) Robert ...

Great Portland Street Blues

Karl Miller, 25 January 1990

Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... they evoke, and of the stories they love to tell. This is a writing ‘to the moment’, in Samuel Richardson’s phrase, which corresponds to Richardson’s achievement as an epistolary novelist and to the intimacies and immediacies of Sterne’s practice in Tristram Shandy, and which can seem to contribute to an attempt on ...

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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... that Hugo Gernsback invented SF, that the ‘rise of the novel’ is synonymous with Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, there is something usefully corrective in the Companion’s counter-claims. They are not the first to be one-sided. It is astonishing, looking back at Ian Watt’s book, for instance, to find that no woman novelist figures in his account. In ...

Besieged by Female Writers

John Pemble: Trollope’s Late Style, 3 November 2016

Anthony Trollope’s Late Style: Victorian Liberalism and Literary Form 
by Frederik Van Dam.
Edinburgh, 180 pp., £70, January 2016, 978 0 7486 9955 1
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... increasingly besieged by female ones. The English novel, forged in the 18th century by men (Defoe, Richardson, Smollett, Fielding, Sterne), was, as he saw it, being taken over by women. There were now probably more women than men writing novels, and there was no doubt that more women than men were reading them. For most of the 1860s, Mrs Henry Wood and ...

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