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Dark and Buzzing Looks

Susannah Clapp, 1 October 1987

Serenissima: A Novel of Venice 
by Erica Jong.
Bantam, 225 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 593 01365 4
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Her Mother’s Daughter 
by Marilyn French.
Heinemann, 756 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 434 27200 0
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The Wedding of Jayanthi Mandel 
by Sara Banerji.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 575 03984 1
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... motherhood is a superior ‘means of travelling through time’. According to the less playful Marilyn French, it is a dangerous form of transport: ‘It is not the sins of the fathers that descend unto the third generation, but the sorrows of the mothers.’ Some of the sorrows examined in her fat book are produced by grim circumstances: women are ...

Women beware men

Margaret Anne Doody, 23 July 1992

Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women 
by Susan Faludi.
Chatto, 592 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 7011 4643 5
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The War against Women 
by Marilyn French.
Hamish Hamilton, 229 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 241 13271 1
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... by Joan Smith, includes information regarding the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. Marilyn French deals with Southern and Eastern countries, including the ‘Third World’ – a term which she thinks passé and dishonest. Both books are contemporary and well-informed, and both announce by their very existence that the Nineties are going ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

Metroland 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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Creator 
by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... they didn’t seem made for each other. Christopher also fails in his liaison with his exciting French partner, Annick, and lapses into marriage with the sensible English girl Marion. And, in the last significant episode of the novel, a Metrolander once more, he doesn’t commit adultery:   ‘OK then?’ she suddenly said.   ‘OK what?’ I ...

Unsex me here

John Bayley, 20 May 1982

Shakespeare’s Division of Experience 
by Marilyn French.
Cape, 376 pp., £12.50, March 1982, 0 224 02013 7
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... equally well. So it was only a matter of time before Shakespeare became a feminist. To do Dr French justice, though, she does not exactly claim that: only that he was fully aware of all the issues involved and sorted out psychological and moral experience on that basis. Thus his female characters can be divided into inlaws and outlaws, two categories ...

Family Business

Fred Halliday, 17 July 1997

... Islamic position to studies of ‘women and discourse’, replete with quotes from Julia Kristeva, Marilyn French and Laura Mulvey. The official Saudi obsession with control produces visible tensions. An example is the restriction on representation of the human form in the media. It has no Koranic authority, but, in Saudi Arabia and, in an even more ...

The Education of Philip French

Marilyn Butler, 16 October 1980

Three Honest Men: Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis, Lionel Trilling 
edited by Philip French.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 85635 299 3
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F.R. Leavis 
by William Walsh.
Chatto, 189 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7011 2503 9
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... Can you name the author who set you thinking? For Philip French, at a Bristol grammar school in the 1950s, the enlighteners were Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis and Lionel Trilling. For me, at a Wimbledon grammar school in the 1950s, Bertrand Russell filled the slot on his own, largely because his History of Western Philosophy was so long ...

Citizens

Christopher Ricks, 19 November 1981

Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 
by Marilyn Butler.
Oxford, 213 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 19 219144 6
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... Authors are not the solitaries of the Romantic myth, but citizens.’ The spirit of Marilyn Butler’s excellent book on the Romantics is itself that of citizenship: of belonging to a civilised community, cultural and intellectual, which one helps to sustain and is sustained by, and which makes possible the truest duties, rights and privileges ...

Julia Caesar

Marilyn Butler, 17 March 1983

The Prince and the Wild Geese 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 62 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 241 10894 2
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... himself, Julia and Rome into fantasy, a more eloquent medium than their polite foreigners’ French. Every family with a series of drawings by the gifted professionals and amateurs of the 19th century should get them out. The Taaffes must have thought they had in their possession nothing more than a quaint relic of a long-dead great-aunt, until Brigid ...

No Fear of Fanny

Marilyn Butler, 20 November 1980

Fanny 
by Erica Jong.
Granada, 496 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 246 11427 4
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The Heroine’s Text 
by Nancy Miller.
Columbia, 185 pp., £10, July 1980, 0 231 04910 2
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... criticism has begun to focus on the problem of the 18th-century heroine. In a modish study of French and English novels, The Heroine’s Text, Nancy K. Miller speculates indignantly on the motives of male authors in humiliating their heroines – having them raped, punishing their sexual indulgence, or, equally patronisingly, rewarding them for their ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Windsor Girls School on 22 June, 4 July 1985

... were offered Judith Chernaik on Shelley’s feminism or Elma Dangerfield on Byron and Shelley or Marilyn Butler on the background to the politics of the Romantic poets. I had heard Judith a few times before, and reckoned Elma Dangerfield probably a bit right-wing for me, so I plumped for Marilyn Butler. After about two ...

Malvolio’s Story

Marilyn Butler, 8 February 1996

Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 461 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 00 215964 3
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... 1792 Burns the exciseman bought the guns from a ship caught smuggling and presented them to the French Convention. Lockhart attributes it to his father-in-law Walter Scott, but it now seems improbable. On the other hand, another much-cited episode of later the same year – that Burns joined in one or more demonstrations in the theatre at Dumfries in favour ...

Priapus Knight

Marilyn Butler, 18 March 1982

TheArrogant Connoisseur: Richard Payne Knight 1751-1824 
edited by Michael Clarke and Nicholas Penny.
Manchester, 189 pp., £30, February 1982, 0 7190 0871 9
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... Richard Payne Knight was an important English intellectual of the era of the French Revolution. He flourished from the 1770s until his death, perhaps by suicide, in 1824. Most of that time he wielded great influence in the art world, as a leading collector, connoisseur and aesthetician, but as the theorist of potent subjects like myth and symbol he mattered almost as much to the poets ...

Laundering Britain’s Past

Marilyn Butler, 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 ...

Diary

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 ...

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 ...

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