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Brattishness

Colin Burrow: Henry Howard, 11 November 1999

Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life 
by W.A. Sessions.
Oxford, 448 pp., £60, March 1999, 9780198186243
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... uncle Thomas discovered when he was imprisoned in 1536 after a rash engagement to Lady Margaret Douglas, who also had royal blood. Surrey was unimaginably grand, but was also not unjustly described by John Barlowe, Dean of Westbury as ‘the most foolish proud boy that is in England’. His actions often tread the dividing line between brattishness and ...

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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... or under. This ration cramps the editors, and sometimes tantalises the reader. Take the entry on Mary Kennard where the Companion records that she was the daughter of one Charles Faber ‘not Samuel Laing, as sometimes claimed’. The Laing claim is made in my Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (which also has a grotesquely wrong date of death for ...

Genette

Stephen Bann, 2 October 1980

Narrative Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Jane Lewin.
Blackwell, 285 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 631 10981 1
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... the goal of an intricate but absorbing theoretical quest through Leviticus and the Gospels, Mary Douglas, Freud and Winnicott. It may be optimistic to expect a corresponding virtuosity from the British reader. But can we join in the debate at any other ...

Hungry Ghosts

Paul Connerton, 19 April 1990

Fragments for a History of the Human Body, Parts I-III 
edited by Michel Feher, Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi.
Zone, 480 pp., £35.95, May 1989, 0 942299 25 6
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... been followed more recently by, among others, Norbert Elias, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu and Mary Douglas. To these we must now add Fragments for a History of the Human Body, a collection edited by Michel Feher, with Ramona Naddaff and Nadia Tazi. The book is in three volumes, containing in all 48 essays, many of a remarkably high quality and ...

The [ ] walked down the street

Michael Silverstein: Saussure, 8 November 2012

Saussure 
by John Joseph.
Oxford, 780 pp., £30, March 2012, 978 0 19 969565 2
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... vote Republican while its ‘blue states’ vote Democrat. Claude Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach, Mary Douglas and Marshall Sahlins have pointed out that our normative ‘totemic’ systems of colour – urban gang colours, sports team colours, school colours, gender colours etc – are precisely analogous to those of the indigenous groups traditionally ...

Djojo on the Corner

Benedict Anderson, 24 August 1995

After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist 
by Clifford Geertz.
Harvard, 198 pp., £17.95, April 1995, 0 674 00871 5
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... one might also say pre-Post-Modern – masters: Jack Goody (1919), Victor Turner (1920), Mary Douglas (1921), and Marshall Sahlins (1930). Right in the middle came Clifford Geertz, who was born in San Francisco in 1926. In the quarter-century between 1960, when he published his masterly The Religion of Java, and the middle Eighties, he ...

The Wives of Herr Bear

Julia Briggs: Jane Harrison, 21 September 2000

The Invention of Jane Harrison 
by Mary Beard.
Harvard, 229 pp., £23.50, July 2000, 0 674 00212 1
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... by ideas of purity and danger, ancient matriarchal powers and the anger of the vengeful dead. Mary Beard is suspicious of such over-simplifications, however. Hers is an anti-biography, which confronts previous versions of Harrison’s life: Sandra Peacock’s hagiography of 1988, which read the work as determined by personal feeling, and the more ...

Shaky Do

Tony Gould, 5 May 1988

Mary and Richard: The Story of Richard Hillary and Mary Booker 
by Michael Burn.
Deutsch, 249 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 233 98280 9
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... with the film star, Merle Oberon. In fact, it was Merle Oberon who gave him an introduction to Mary Booker, a divorced woman twice his age with grown-up children of her own, whom he befriended when he returned to London. Mary – who married the author of this book after the war and died some years ago – was a Society ...

Men’s Honour, Women’s Lives

Peter Burke, 6 March 1986

Trial by Impotence: Virility and Marriage in Pre-Revolutionary France 
by Pierre Darmon, translated by Paul Keegan.
Chatto, 234 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 9780701129149
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The Boundaries of Eros: Sex, Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice 
by Guido Ruggiero.
Oxford, 223 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 19 503465 1
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The Tuscans and their Families: A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427 
by David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber.
Yale, 404 pp., £32, March 1985, 0 300 03056 8
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Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy 
by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 338 pp., £25.50, September 1985, 0 226 43925 9
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French Women in the Age of Enlightenment 
edited by Samia Spencer.
Indiana, 429 pp., $35, November 1984, 0 253 32481 5
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... sense of the problem posed for contemporaries by this kind of challenge to cultural boundaries. As Mary Douglas has observed of a similar case (Corbett v. Corbett, 1971), it is an example of a much more general process by which ‘physical nature is masticated and driven through the cognitive meshes to satisfy social demands for clarity.’ Some ...

Mary, Mary

Christopher Hitchens, 8 April 1993

Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 576 pp., £18.99, March 1993, 0 575 04236 2
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... there in the living room of the suite with his legs crossed. Roy introduced him to me as ‘Mary’ and he replied, ‘Good evening,’ like the first time I’d met him. Mrs Rosenstiel, who has what I’d call an unusually good memory for apparel, possessed that keen sense of self-preservation that the more emotional ‘Dick’ Hannay lacked. ‘I ...

No One Leaves Her Place in Line

Jeremy Harding: Martha Gellhorn, 7 May 1998

... Stricken Field. The catastrophe in Czechoslovakia is seen through the eyes of a young journalist, Mary Douglas. ‘She’s too wrapped up in herself; she thinks she’s much too important,’ she remarked in 1990. To the suggestion that Mary Douglas was only a device, she replied, ‘Yes, but I’m not sure it ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer, 2 December 1982

Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... of modern society which are simultaneously prescriptions for a cure: such anthropologists as Mary Douglas, with her ‘Bog Irish’ love of ritual and her simple schemes of anthropological analysis, have offered equally banal and subjective panaceas for social ills. O’Keefe may not be unique: but by pointing out the fascination of magic along with ...

Diary

Iain Bamforth: Bodyworlds, 19 October 2000

... it is a definition of animal consciousness. Besides, if the body is a symbol of society, as Mary Douglas says it is, then society itself must be laterally exploding. We can’t expect to lay the world bare, cognitively speaking, and not feel the draught: one of the uncomfortable things about knowledge since Bacon’s time is having to feel ...

Then came the Hoover

Hugh Pennington: The Allergy Epidemic, 22 June 2006

Allergy: The History of a Modern Malady 
by Mark Jackson.
Reaktion, 288 pp., £25, May 2006, 1 86189 271 3
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... about them ‘are mostly well educated and informed but they are afraid and feel threatened’. Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky put it well in Risk and Culture (1982): What are Americans afraid of? Nothing much, really, except the food they eat, the water they drink, the air they breathe, the land they live on, and the energy they use. In the ...

The Road to Reading Gaol

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 2017

... day as they circled the exercise yard.De Profundis, a 55,000-word letter addressed to Lord Alfred Douglas, written by Wilde during the final months of his two-year sentence, is a strange literary creation, a hybrid text. It was the only work he produced while in jail. On 4 April 1897 the prison governor informed the Prison Commission that each sheet of the ...

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