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Inky Pilgrimage

Mark Ford, 24 May 2007

The Contemplated Spouse: The Letters of Wallace Stevens to Elsie 
edited by Donald Blount.
South Carolina, 430 pp., £30.95, January 2006, 1 57003 248 3
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... instance, by the distance between ‘catarrhs’ and ‘guitars’: Then from their poverty they rose, From dry catarrhs, and to guitars They flitted Through the palace walls. Here the incessant rumbling wooings of the gaunt guitarists gradually unite with the women’s insistent erotic dreaming, physically expressed by their ever more extravagant ...

Dressed in Blue Light

Amy Larocca: Gypsy Rose Lee, 11 March 2010

Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee 
by Noralee Frankel.
Oxford, 300 pp., £12.99, June 2009, 978 0 19 536803 1
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Gypsy: The Art of the Tease 
by Rachel Shteir.
Yale, 222 pp., £12.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 12040 0
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... If Gypsy Rose Lee had been born about 60 years later than she was, she would most probably have had a reality show, something like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which is about three Los Angeles sisters whose sex tapes have a curious habit of ‘leaking’ onto the internet. Their mother, Kris, is their manager and when Kris is not calling her pornographer friend in prison, she can usually be found encouraging her daughters to take their clothes off in front of men, or, most recently, arranging the telecast of one daughter’s wedding to a basketball player she’d known for exactly one month ...

Mothers

Jacqueline Rose, 19 June 2014

The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women 
by Elisabeth Badinter, translated by Adriana Hunter.
Picador, 224 pp., £10.99, June 2013, 978 1 250 03209 6
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Are You My Mother? 
by Alison Bechdel.
Jonathan Cape, 304 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 224 09352 1
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A Child of One’s Own: Parental Stories 
by Rachel Bowlby.
Oxford, 256 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 0 19 960794 5
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Mothering and Motherhood in Ancient Greece and Rome 
by Lauren Hackworth Petersen and Patricia Salzman-Mitchell.
Texas, 274 pp., £16.99, April 2013, 978 0 292 75434 8
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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in 20th-Century England 
by Pat Thane and Tanya Evans.
Oxford, 240 pp., £24.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 968198 3
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I Don’t Know Why She Bothers: Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Womanhood 
by Daisy Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.99, July 2013, 978 0 297 86876 7
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... rebuke to the ideal. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the number of single mothers in this country rose faster than at any other time in history, seemingly unaffected by an increasingly strident Conservative rhetoric of blame. The most pervasive image was of an unemployed teenager who had deliberately got herself pregnant in order to claim benefits, although ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... generating both sophisticated psychoanalytical readings, such as those put forward by Jacqueline Rose in The Haunting of Sylvia Plath (1991), and the schlock movie Sylvia (2003), in which Hughes was played by Daniel Craig and Plath by Gwyneth Paltrow. From the early 1970s more or less until his death Hughes was a major hate figure for those he and his ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... from Wimbledon for designing too-saucy dresses for tennis women (Teddy Tinling); a third, who rose from private in the Honourable Artillery Company, was a devout Christian who launched the Hammer House of Horror (Sir James Carreras). All demonstrated that a spell in uniform, as the sovereign’s trusty and well-beloved, never cramped a creative ...

Three Poems

Simon Armitage, 22 July 1993

... holding your breath, watching, waiting for your man to show. I’m in the garden picking you a rose. This new strain with their frantic, crimson heads, open now and at their very best, having dozed all winter in a deep, rich bed, the trench I sank one evening by the potting shed. I mark the best bloom, take it at the ...

Under the Ustasha

Mark Mazower: Sarajevo, 1941-45, 6 October 2011

Sarajevo, 1941-45: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Hitler’s Europe 
by Emily Greble.
Cornell, 276 pp., £21.50, February 2011, 978 0 8014 4921 5
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... friend sneaked me into the Unprofor headquarters in a villa in the centre of town. General Michael Rose was away in Pale, we were told, negotiating with the Serbs. We were shown into a bedroom, now used as Rose’s private office. A Royal Marine sat back in the general’s chair, feet on the desk, his head hidden behind a ...

Who do you think you are?

Jacqueline Rose: Trans Narratives, 5 May 2016

... and thereby denied them legal recognition of their gender. In 1986, female-to-male transsexual Mark Rees, in the first challenge to the ruling, lost his case at the European Court of Human Rights against the UK government for its non-recognition of his status as male, loss of privacy and barring his marriage to a woman. Only with the Gender Recognition Act ...

Fetch the Chopping Knife

Charles Nicholl: Murder on Bankside, 4 November 2021

... British killers – Ian Brady (See No Evil), John Christie (Rillington Place), the Wests (Fred and Rose), Dennis Nilsen (Des), Jeremy Bamber (White House Farm), Harold Shipman (Doctor Death) – while American true crime favours American atrocities. I don’t see my preference for the British product as some kind of weird patriotism. It’s written into the ...

Get knitting

Ian Hacking: Birth and Death of the Brain, 18 August 2005

The 21st-Century Brain: Explaining, Mending and Manipulating the Mind 
by Steven Rose.
Cape, 344 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 224 06254 9
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... Steven Rose is a well-known public scientist who has dedicated his career to the study of brains. He has lived through the early days of the technical revolution that has involved increasingly powerful ways of imaging activity in the brain. But he is first of all a biologist. His guiding principle is that we cannot understand the human brain unless we understand how it came into being ...

The trouble with the Enlightenment

Mark Lilla, 6 January 1994

The Magus of the North: J.G. Hamann and the Origins of Modern Irrationalism 
by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy.
Murray, 144 pp., £14.99, October 1993, 0 7195 5312 1
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... in the political and cultural sphere ... forced by arrogant dictators, Frederick and Voltaire, he rose in rebellion and instituted a fierce campaign against reason’. Berlin himself is no enemy of reason, but he does feel an almost unbounded sympathy for those claiming to be victims of overweening pretension, even if that pretension is bred of rational ...

Taking leave

Mark Edmundson, 2 March 1989

Borrowed Time 
by Paul Monette.
Collins Harvill, 342 pp., £12.50, October 1988, 0 00 271057 9
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... gays from teaching in the California public schools, a grass-roots movement, led by Milk, rose and defeated the Bill by a two-to-one majority. Gay power was at its high-water mark. It was around that time that Monette and Horwitz moved west, to Los Angeles, where gays had won a measure of respect – if never quite ...

Still Life with Wineglass

R.F. Langley, 21 June 2001

... reminds me of wading birds, when their beaks meet their beaks as they feed on a mirror of mud and mark ‘Here’ as a point in the water that’s deep in the sky. Fetch me a folding chair. Set it up by the south door. This is etiquette. I am the ticket collector. Nothing comes in but thistledown which scarcely touches the floor and was never supposed to ...

Improving the Story

Frank Kermode: Philip Pullman’s Jesus, 27 May 2010

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ 
by Philip Pullman.
Canongate, 245 pp., £14.99, April 2010, 978 1 84767 825 6
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... Obviously most of the material is drawn from the canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke, with Mark behind them and John ignoring them. They offer accounts of the infancy of Jesus that are often quite wildly at odds with one another, but anyone wanting to retell the tale can pick and choose, ignoring conflicts of testimony and adding more if desired. It ...

No Crying in This House

Jackson Lears: The Kennedy Myth, 7 November 2013

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 
by David Nasaw.
Allen Lane, 896 pp., £12.35, September 2013, 978 0 14 312407 8
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Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 
by Barbara Perry.
Norton, 404 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 393 06895 5
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... self-made father with connections in Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington and London, and by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, a devout but fashionable Catholic mum, as at home on the golf links or the ski slopes as in Windsor Castle. After making millions in banking, real estate and film distribution, the father wants to devote his life to public service, and to ...

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