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Patrick Parrinder, 26 July 1990

The Sorrow of Belgium 
by Hugo Claus, translated by Arnold Pomerans.
Viking, 609 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 670 81456 3
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by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Virago, 260 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 85381 158 0
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A Sensible Life 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 364 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 9780593019306
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The Light Years 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Macmillan, 418 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 333 53875 7
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... is at least no dull opiate. Joanna begins with childhood holidays at the seaside, and so does Mary Wesley’s A Sensible Life – but there the resemblances stop. A Sensible Life, a sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice sort of tale, begins at Dinard in 1926 and finally rounds off its boy-meets-girl plot at a Cornish barbecue thirty (or is it ...

Little Girl

Patricia Beer, 12 March 1992

Hideous Kinky 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 186 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 241 13179 0
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Eve’s Tattoo 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 194 pp., £8.99, January 1992, 0 7011 3882 3
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A Dubious Legacy 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 272 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 593 02537 7
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... all knew obstetricians and had worked with them in delivery rooms.’ Before I read anything by Mary Wesley I assumed she was a latterday Angela Thirkell, clanking with snobbery and gentility, and creating middle-class characters of Victorian morals and feudal manners, who lived in large country houses and were attended by threateningly common ...

Great Chasm

Reyner Banham, 2 July 1981

Corridors of Time 
by Ron Redfern and Carl Sagan.
Orbis, 198 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 85613 316 7
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... the Grand Canyon (in which the railroad was brilliantly assisted by a remarkable woman architect, Mary Colter), much elaborated since by the National Parks Service and a host of other entities, public and private, is good – but does not reach the level of such masterpieces as Niagara Falls. At Niagara, a natural phenomenon so unnerving as to be almost ...

All he does is write his novel

Christian Lorentzen: Updike, 5 June 2014

by Adam Begley.
Harper, 558 pp., £25, April 2014, 978 0 06 189645 3
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... of his grandson’s birth in 1932 the last of his investments had withered. Linda and her husband, Wesley, had moved in with her parents. That summer, Wesley lost his job as a telephone company lineman, and the household entered a state of ‘severe Depression-shock’. Linda had a master’s in English from Cornell, and ...

Freaks, Dwarfs and Boors

Thomas Keymer: 18th-Century Jokes, 2 August 2012

Cruelty and Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental 18th Century 
by Simon Dickie.
Chicago, 362 pp., £29, December 2011, 978 0 226 14618 8
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... refuges for repentant prostitutes or bankrupted merchants. Shortly before his death in 1791, John Wesley looked back on the century as one in which ‘benevolence and compassion toward all the forms of human woe have increased in a manner not known before, from the earliest ages of the world.’ Not everyone was sympathetic to forms of woe – especially to ...


M.J. Hyland: A memoir, 6 May 2004

... an extradition order to fly him from Sydney, where he was staying in a halfway house run by the Wesley Mission, back to Brisbane. He didn’t like being arrested ‘out of the blue’, but said he was happier in prison, and spent two more months there, working in the carpentry shop, before being released on parole again, this time into the custody of the ...


Ferdinand Mount: British Weeping, 17 December 2015

Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears 
by Thomas Dixon.
Oxford, 438 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 19 967605 7
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... impossible to pin tears down.’ Dixon directs the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. Keats might have thought this rather like a Department for Unweaving the Rainbow. Dixon is no dry-eyed Dryasdust. He confesses that he himself is liable to weep at operas and soap operas, at the triumphs and disasters of Wimbledon and ...

Apocalypse Now and Then

Frank Kermode, 25 October 1979

The Second Coming: Popular Millenarianism 1780-1850 
by J.F.C. Harrison.
Routledge, 277 pp., £9.95
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... as men; this equality extends to their other arrangements, so that we might, at a pinch, see Mary Wollstonecraft as a secular version of Joanna Southcott. Typically, a millennialist group would be made up of labourers, tradesmen, servants, and an infusion of the better-off and better-educated. Its beliefs, apart from those directly derived from the ...

The Nominee

Andrew O’Hagan: With the Democrats, 19 August 2004

... not quite liking him either. Heavily supported by Edward Kennedy (and by Bill Clinton since the Wesley Clark machine puffed its last), Kerry is famous for having none of Kennedy’s backslapping, song-singing, law-making brio, and very little of Clinton’s natural empathy and charisma. People noticed Kerry, they even trusted him, but they didn’t ...

Malfunctioning Sex Robot

Patricia Lockwood: Updike Redux, 10 October 2019

Novels, 1959-65: ‘The Poorhouse Fair’; ‘Rabbit, Run’; ‘The Centaur’; ‘Of the Farm’ 
by John Updike.
Library of America, 850 pp., £36, November 2018, 978 1 59853 581 5
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... to some rich green complacency in the valley that grew him. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1932 to Wesley and Linda Hoyer Updike. His parents, and grandparents, rocked him like a handmade cradle; in ‘Midpoint’ he calls himself the fifth point of their star. ‘I was made to feel that I could do things. If you get this feeling early and can hold it until ...

Lights On and Away We Go

Keith Thomas: Happy Thoughts, 20 May 2021

The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790 
by Ritchie Robertson.
Allen Lane, 984 pp., £40, November 2020, 978 0 241 00482 1
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... thousand people. The disaster, all the preachers said, was God’s punishment for sinfulness. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, saw it as divine vengeance for the cruelties of the Portuguese Inquisition. He had identified a minor earthquake near a racecourse in Yorkshire as another such intervention: God ‘purposely chose such a place, where there is so ...

Mumpsimus, Sumpsimus

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Common Prayer, 24 May 2012

Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662 
edited by Brian Cummings.
Oxford, 830 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 0 19 920717 6
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... I was archivist for many years of English Methodism’s oldest surviving theological college, Wesley College in Bristol, and had in my custody the two quarto copies of the BCP used in the college’s original chapel from its opening in Manchester in 1842: they were worn frail with regular use in leading the community’s worship. Even so, had the BCP ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries, 28 July 2011

... mills by buying a horse and riding through England. The Armley library was at the bottom of Wesley Road, the entrance up a flight of marble steps under open arches, through brass-railed swing doors panelled in stained glass which by 1941 was just beginning to buckle. Ahead was the Adults’ Library, lofty, airy and inviting; to the right was the Junior ...

Operation Barbarella

Rick Perlstein: Hanoi Jane, 17 November 2005

Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon 
by Mary Hershberger.
New Press, 228 pp., £13.99, September 2005, 1 56584 988 4
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... of implications for the politics of gender, power and anxiety in America. In Jane Fonda’s War Mary Hershberger does a good job of describing how this state of affairs came about. The story begins with an apolitical young woman whose anti-Communist convictions were so conventional that in 1959 she accepted the ceremonial title of ‘Miss Army ...


Thomas Jones: The Last Days of eBay, 19 June 2008

... company. Other areas of the site were variously devoted to a university alumni group run by Pam Wesley, Omidyar’s PEZ-collecting fiancée, and information about the ebola virus, which Omidyar happened to find interesting. AuctionWeb went live on Monday, 4 September 1995. In its first 24 hours, it had no visitors. Omidyar set about publicising it. On 12 ...

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