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Mizzlers

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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Joanna 
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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... a narrative which refers to nostalgia as being ‘drip-fed into my upbringing like an antidotal poison’ is at least no dull opiate. Joanna begins with childhood holidays at the seaside, and so does MaryWesley’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 ...

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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... chambers of Auschwitz. The men really perked up when they heard the word ‘obstetrician’. ‘They all knew obstetricians and had worked with them in delivery rooms.’ Before I read anything by MaryWesley 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 ...

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 viewing public is almost as important as the substance of its topography. The basic packaging of 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 ...

All he does is write his novel

Christian Lorentzen: Updike

4 June 2014
Updike 
by Adam Begley.
Harper, 558 pp., £25, April 2014, 978 0 06 189645 3
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... to the small town of Shillington, Pennsylvania. He was ruined by the crash of 1929. By the time 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 ...

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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... of the Penitents in the Magdalen House (1759) raised funds for foundling hospitals, charity schools, 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 ...

Diary

M.J. Hyland: A memoir

6 May 2004
... Did I know where he was? ‘No idea,’ I said. The police tracked him down, without my help, and got 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 ...

Lachrymatics

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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... his immensely readable and often puckish exploration, Thomas Dixon sighs, with reason, that ‘it is 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 ...

The Nominee

Andrew O’Hagan: With the Democrats

19 August 2004
... to seem premeditated. People came to the 2004 Democratic Convention not quite knowing John Kerry, and 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 ...
25 October 1979
The Second Coming: Popular Millenarianism 1780-1850 
by J.F.C. Harrison.
Routledge, 277 pp., £9.95
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... feature of their organisations is that men were not favoured over women, and females made as good prophets 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 ...

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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... all that neatly stacked blond wood, a testament not just to his soundness and his industry, but 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 ...

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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... a fake, but the association had already been planted. ‘John Kerry with Tits’: five syllables full 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 ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries

28 July 2011
... book of autobiography was I Haven’t Unpacked by William Holt, who had got away from the dark, satanic 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 ...

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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... Methodism was as ambivalent towards the Prayer Book as it was towards the Established Church itself. 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 ...

Diary

Thomas Jones: The Last Days of eBay

19 June 2008
... echobay.com, simply because he liked the sound of it, but had been beaten to it by a Canadian mining 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 ...

Keepers

Andrew Scull

29 September 1988
Mind Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency 
by Roy Porter.
Athlone, 412 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 485 11324 4
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The Past and the Present Revisited 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 440 pp., £19.95, October 1987, 0 7102 1253 4
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Sufferers and Healers: The Experience of Illness in 17th-Century England 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Routledge, 314 pp., £30, December 1987, 0 7102 1053 1
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Illness and Self in Society 
by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret, translated by Elborg Forster.
Johns Hopkins, 271 pp., £20.25, January 1988, 0 8018 3228 4
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Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 
by Hilary Marland.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £40, September 1987, 0 521 32575 7
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A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane 
by Roy Porter.
Weidenfeld, 261 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 297 79223 7
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... turning them instead into pathology, mere ‘Methodistical madness’. In less elevated social circles the belief in madness as psychomachy survived and even, to some degree, flourished. Wesley himself ‘staunchly denied that madness was merely reducible to physical illness’: even though his Primitive Physick advocated the use of drugs and medical treatment (including electricity) in the ...

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