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Preceding Backwardness

Margaret Anne Doody, 9 January 1992

Women’s Lives and the 18th-Century English Novel 
by Elizabeth Bergan Brophy.
University of South Florida Press, 291 pp., $29.95, April 1991, 0 8130 1036 5
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Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel 
by Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
Chicago, 306 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 226 95096 4
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... of seven novelists: Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Sarah Fielding, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Scott, Clara Reeve and Frances Burney. (There are occasional references to other writers, such as Jane Austen.) A segment on, for instance, ‘Daughters’ will discuss daughters and the code of daughterliness as represented in the novels. But the much more ...

Zip the Lips

Lorna Scott Fox: A novel plea for silence, 2 June 2005

Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Chatto, 376 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 9780701176754
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The Man of Feeling 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Vintage, 135 pp., £7.99, February 2005, 0 09 945367 3
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... When I said I was moving from northern Spain to Seville, the same warning came from every northerner I knew: those Andalusians always act so friendly, but watch out, you can’t trust them. I found this puzzling, for the only thing I’d want to trust them to be was friendly, however superficially; I didn’t expect them to save my life, or even to keep my non-existent secrets ...

Dream Leaps

Tessa Hadley: Alice Munro, 25 January 2007

The View from Castle Rock 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 349 pp., £15.99, November 2006, 0 7011 7989 9
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... supposed to have hunted down and murdered Merlin in these woods; the valley was home to Michael Scott, a wizard who appears in Dante’s Inferno. The area was in unruly border country, and it is also on the spine of Scotland, where the waters divide to flow west or east. James Laidlaw’s grandfather Will O’Phaup followed fairies one evening into the ...

Static

Lorna Scott Fox, 22 September 1994

The Still Moment 
by Paul Binding.
Virago, 290 pp., £20, May 1994, 1 85381 441 5
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... in the literature, is endlessly contemporary, from the menace of Injun Joe to the march of Margaret Mitchell’s carpet-baggers, from Faulkner’s tentacular Snopeses to Flannery O’Connor’s blackhearted preachers. Welty documents the fall (her loss) in a very Protestant way, as something immutable. Degradation and its agents – often heralds of ...
Modernity and Identity 
edited by Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman.
Blackwell, 448 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 631 17585 7
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Fundamentalisms Observed 
edited by Martin Marty and Scott Appleby.
Chicago, 872 pp., $40, November 1991, 0 226 50877 3
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The Post-Modern and the Post-Industrial 
by Margaret Rose.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 521 40131 3
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Under God: Religion and American Politics 
by Garry Wills.
Simon and Schuster, 445 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 671 65705 4
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... it was seen in terms of the future rather than the past; as the architect Arthur Penty (quoted by Margaret Rose) observed in 1922, ‘Post-Industrialism connotes Medievalism.’ But theological modernists, like the English Catholic George Tyrrell, saw Medievalism as incompatible with modernity and banished it to the Middle Ages where it took on the static ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter, 22 September 1994

Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... of women, and these have often been disclosures of sexual practices’ – as if revelations of Scott Fitzgerald’s alcoholic excesses, Robert Frost’s nastiness and pettiness, Philip Larkin’s racism, or Roald Dahl’s arrogance had not tempered readers’ adulation. While she herself has written a biography of John Dos Passos as well as books on Ellen ...

Presto!

James Buchan, 14 December 1995

The Life of Adam Smith 
by Ian Simpson Ross.
Oxford, 495 pp., £25, October 1995, 0 19 828821 2
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... his brother hanged, drawn and quartered years after the event. For all the disgust of Sir Walter Scott, the cast of thought promoted by The Wealth of Nations had, by 1820, colonised even the remotest Highlands. ‘As the country advanced in civilisation,’ the Countess of Sutherland’s factor wrote, surveying an empty Strathnaver, ‘other objects of ...

Sticktoitiveness

John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... nationalist (hence the pre-eminence, as cited sources, of Shakespeare, laureate of England, and Scott, laureate of the Union), and chauvinistically masculine. Jesperson’s luckless observation that ‘the English language seems positively and expressly masculine, it is the language of a grown-up man and has very little childish or feminine about it’ is ...

Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp, 1 May 1980

A Country Calendar 
by Flora Thompson, edited by Margaret Lane.
Oxford, 307 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780192117533
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... with sunflowers; on the cover of A Country Calendar a round-limbed family lounges among ferns. Margaret Lane’s introduction talks of ‘small country masterpieces’ and ‘delightful reading’. In Flora Thompson’s case, the less delight, the better the story. ‘Heatherley’ begins with the 20-year-old Flora Thompson arriving at the post office ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... since the fine detail is largely of concern only to scholars, photocopies would have done. The Margaret Cravens letters have biographical substance, for there has been a mystery about Pound’s relationship with her. She was a piano student and was thought to have been in love with Pound’s friend the pianist Walter Rummel. When she met Pound in 1910 she ...

Dunbar’s Disappearance

Sally Mapstone: William Dunbar, 24 May 2001

The Poems of William Dunbar 
edited by Priscilla Bawcutt.
Association for Scottish Literary Studies, £70, May 1999, 0 948877 38 3
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... conducting the negotiations with Henry VII that led to the marriage two years later of Princess Margaret Tudor to James IV. ‘London thow art of Towynys A per se’, an anonymous poem, is said in one surviving manuscript copy to have been delivered at a dinner held by the Lord Mayor during the Christmas festivities that accompanied this visit, by ‘a ...

Melton Constable

W.R. Mead, 22 May 1986

The past is a foreign country 
by David Lowenthal.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £27.50, November 1985, 0 521 22415 2
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... It is invested with determinative force. It undermines self-confidence – for George Gilbert Scott it doomed architects to ‘capricious eclecticism’. It is the hump on the back of the cripple rather than the pack carried by the pilgrim. From wanting the past, the argument proceeds to knowing the past, and since knowledge of the past is principally the ...

Jane Austen’s Word Process

Marilyn Butler, 25 June 1987

Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels and an Experiment in Method 
by J.F Burrows.
Oxford, 245 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 812856 8
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... Mrs Bennet. Once again, other authors fail to match Austen’s remarkable diversity. Forster’s Margaret Schlegel ‘develops’ considerably more than other figures in her world, but less than 14 characters of Austen’s. Mostly, however, it is by comparing Austen characters with one another, often with another figure in the same novel, that Burrows ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels, 19 August 1999

Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... the same pointed zeal as have the sequels to Austen. In the 20th century dozens of sequels, from Margaret Dashwood, or Interference (a sequel to Sense and Sensibility by Edith Charlotte Brown, 1929) to Consequence, or Whatever Became of Charlotte Lucas (Elizabeth Newark, 1997) and Desire & Duty: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (Ted ...

Tit for Tat

Margaret Anne Doody, 21 December 1989

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology 
edited by Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford, 555 pp., £20, September 1989, 0 19 811769 8
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... the female sex. The women poets could be rebuked for not writing enough about love, much as Walter Scott rebuked Jane Austen. Women are often accused of fuddling their minds with romantic love, but men seem very disconcerted if they find that romantic love is not on the female agenda. Lonsdale’s collection has very little ‘love poetry’ in the ...

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