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Boom and Bust

Margaret Anne Doody

19 June 1997
A History of the Breast 
by Marilyn Yalom.
HarperCollins, 331 pp., £15.99, March 1997, 0 04 440913 3
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... The sexualised view of the breast,’ Marilyn Yalom asserts, is a Western phenomenon. Non-Western cultures, she assures us, ‘have their own fetishes’. This seems dismissive, running the risk of a National Geographic style of condescension, other cultures representing the (scorned) site of an (inferior) idyll in which everything hangs out, and there are no hang-ups ...
20 March 1980
Peacock Displayed: A Satirist in his Context 
by Marilyn Butler.
Routledge, 361 pp., £10.95, October 1979, 0 7100 0293 9
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... Aldous Huxley, who, however, fatally lacked Peacock’s tenderness for women and his poetic grace. Marilyn Butler speaks, at one point, of his Mozartian sparkle. Mozart is indeed a source, The Marriage of Figaro especially, for Peacock’s mischievous spell: but she has far more to say about the formation of Peacock’s mind in a book which is ...
12 September 1991
The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 1095 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 297 81207 6
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... Birth of the Modern [political world]’ is a conventional 20th-century way of viewing the French Revolution – the event and idea on which Schama wrote a long, critical footnote. In one sense, Johnson’s book, picking up at the point of revolutionary France’s defeat, reads like Citizens II. Meanwhile his subtitle, ‘World Society’, offers the ...


Christopher Hitchens: Andy Warhol at MoMA

12 October 1989
... The pictures on the walls looked as familiar and predictable as the people. Surely that’s Marilyn. And look – there’s Jackie. There, reassuringly, is the Campbell’s soup can. In fact, there it is again – and again. It’s barely even a shock to see the late Andy Warhol himself, holding a small crowd in the angle of the staircase and sporting ...


Peter Wollen: In the Tunnel

28 April 1994
... where The Maid of the Mist takes tourists into the drenching spray at the very foot of the falls. Marilyn Monroe wears them in the movie, Niagara, and you can see them on Gene Kelly and the gang in the pre-credit sequence of Singin’ in the Rain. Once we were kitted out against quakes and floods, we gave up our passports for inspection and were taken by bus ...
16 April 1981
Ideas and the Novel 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 121 pp., £4.95, February 1981, 9780297778967
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... leading intellectuals, is just not very interesting about radicalism in Felix Holt the Radical. French novelists continue to mull over the French Revolution, English novelists do not. Recalling that Hegel once dubbed Napoleon ‘an idea on a horse’, Miss McCarthy suggests that the Continent’s advantage may be due to ...

Bloom’s Gnovel

Marilyn Butler

3 July 1980
The Flight to Lucifer: A Gnostic Fantasy 
by Harold Bloom.
Faber, 240 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 374 15644 1
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... within the Anglo-American approach to literature, an empirical intellectual tradition, than with French systematising. He has applied himself, after all, to the great mainstream creative writing of the last two centuries; he has contributed essentially to the understanding of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, Yeats, as well as Wallace ...
18 August 1983
Homosexuality in Renaissance England 
by Alan Bray.
Gay Men’s Press, 149 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 907040 16 0
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Comic Women, Tragic Men: A Study of Gender and Genre in Shakespeare 
by Linda Bamber.
Stanford, 211 pp., $18.50, June 1982, 0 8047 1126 7
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Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare 
by Lisa Jardine.
Harvester, 202 pp., £18.95, June 1983, 0 7108 0436 9
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... now call a ‘woman-hater’ – a view anticipated, in their own ways, by Leslie Fiedler and Marilyn French – it does at least have the merit of demonstrating just how far the misogynist line can be taken. If Jardine’s interpretations of plays by Shakespeare and other contemporary dramatists are correct, these works ought to be removed from all ...
6 December 1984
The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765 
edited by David Vaisey.
Oxford, 386 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 19 211782 3
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John Clare’s Autobiographical Writings 
edited by Eric Robinson.
Oxford, 185 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 19 211774 2
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John Clare: The Journals, Essays, and the Journey from Essex 
edited by Anne Tibble.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 85635 344 2
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The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare 
edited by Margaret Grainger.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, January 1984, 0 19 818517 0
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John Clare and the Folk Tradition 
by George Deacon.
Sinclair Browne, 397 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 86300 008 8
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... accompanied by two colleagues from East Hoathly, one of whom, a prosperous farmer called Jeremiah French, was known to Turner as a scourge of paupers and a depresser of wages – though Vaisey goes further, and shows that for several years French had been systematically evading payment of the poor rate. The delegation from ...

Death in Greece

Marilyn Butler

17 September 1981
Byron’s Letter and Journals. Vol. XI: For Freedom’s Battle 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 243 pp., £11.50, April 1981, 0 7195 3792 4
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Byron: The Complete Poetical Works 
edited by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 464 pp., £35, October 1980, 0 19 811890 2
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Red Shelley 
by Paul Foot.
Sidgwick, 293 pp., £12.95, May 1981, 0 283 98679 4
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Ugo Foscolo, Poet of Exile 
by Glauco Cambon.
Princeton, 360 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 691 06424 5
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... the Spanish peninsula, the most recent theatre of the long war against France which followed the French Revolution. As the Vietnam War demonstrated in modern times, nothing so divides and demoralises the Western intellectual as a war against a left-wing enemy. Even with its military dictator dressed up in imperial robes, France displayed a more radical ...

Look beyond the lips

Bee Wilson: Hedy Lamarr

28 July 2011
Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film 
by Ruth Barton.
Kentucky, 281 pp., £25.95, May 2011, 978 0 8131 2604 3
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... suggests, in comparison with ‘equally difficult figures such as Joan Crawford or Bette Davis or Marilyn Monroe’. The book starts with a break-in at the Hollywood Wax Museum in 1973. Thirteen statues were destroyed, including those of Jean Harlow, Vivien Leigh and Hedy Lamarr. Some of the figures were remade, but Hedy Lamarr was ‘melted down and later ...


Marilyn Butler

22 January 1981
Three-Quarter Face 
by Penelope Gilliatt.
Secker, 295 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436179587
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Show People 
by Kenneth Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77842 0
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When the lights go down 
by Pauline Kael.
Boyars, 592 pp., £8.95, August 1980, 0 7145 2726 2
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... shoots a film in a Seville square at 2 a.m., Jeanne Moreau cooks rabbit in the kitchen of her French farmhouse, Woody Allen has been spreading glue on the parapet of his New York apartment to discourage the pigeons (though the glue served only to discourage them from leaving). Once the talk begins, the claims for its significance seem distinctly ...

Versatile Monster

Marilyn Butler

5 May 1988
In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and 19th-century Writing 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 207 pp., £22.50, December 1987, 0 19 811726 4
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... and obliges us to consider it as a collaborative popular invention. The idea of likening the French Revolution and particularly the Parisian mob to a parricidal monster may have occurred first to Edmund Burke. Already in his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Burke saw the fomentors of revolutions as sinister magicians, the Parisian ...
8 July 1993
Political Justice 
by William Godwin, introduced by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Woodstock, £150, November 1992, 1 85196 019 8
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The Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin 
edited by Mark Philp.
Pickering & Chatto, £395, March 1993, 1 85196 026 0
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Political Writings 
by Mary Wollstonecraft, edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 411 pp., £39.95, March 1993, 1 85196 019 8
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Memoirs of Wollstonecraft 
by William Godwin, introduced by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Woodstock, 199 pp., £8.95, April 1993, 1 85477 125 6
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... and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin, having edited previously, with some help from Marilyn Butler, all of Godwin’s novels. Philp is undoubtedly the country’s leading Godwinian, having established his authority with his study of Political Justice. He has perhaps become over-committed to the role, although he has also edited an interesting ...

Outside the text

Marilyn Butler

19 December 1985
The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 352 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 19 811730 2
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The Politics of Language: 1791-1819 
by Olivia Smith.
Oxford, 269 pp., £19.50, December 1984, 0 19 812817 7
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... them as political too. Smith’s main topic is the rhetoric developed by English radicals in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic war period. McGann, more literary, discusses a number of highbrow poets from Crabbe to Christina Rossetti. They both write accessibly, and with a noticeable openness to the wider world, in the early 19th century and now. Half ...

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