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Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels

31 October 2002
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... Have you ever tried to write a Victorian novel? Here’s a beginning, with apologies to Sarah Waters and MichelFaber (and a nod to George MacDonald Fraser): London, 1860. November. A pea-souper billowing up from the flotsam bobbing in the Thames. The gas lamps already blearing. Good things of day begin to drowse ...

A Perfect Eel

Elaine Showalter: ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’

21 June 2012
Lady Audley’s Secret 
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, edited by Lyn Pykett.
Oxford, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2012, 978 0 19 957703 3
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... the influence of her novels on a flourishing genre in contemporary fiction known as ‘neo-Victorianism’ or sometimes ‘neo-sensationalism’, whose exponents include A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters and MichelFaber. M.E. Braddon’s secrets would make a sensational novel of their own. Brought up and educated by her mother, she was ‘a keen, precocious and eclectic reader’ of Shakespeare, Scott, Byron ...


Bonnie Smith

21 May 1987
Journal of My Life 
by Jacques-Louis Ménétra, edited by Daniel Roche, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Columbia, 368 pp., $30, July 1986, 0 231 06128 5
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Disease and Civilisation: The Cholera in Paris, 1832 
by François Delaporte, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
MIT, 250 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 262 04084 0
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France: Fin de Siècle 
by Eugen Weber.
Harvard, 294 pp., £16.94, October 1986, 0 674 31812 9
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... innumerable one-night stands and encounters with prostitutes. Such activities made his youth the ‘years of pleasure’. While ivy-tower historians may analyse Ménétra as the prototypical homo faber of the Ancien Régime, some readers will fix on homo fornicator. These two themes – work and love – dominate the journal. Ménétra makes constant ‘offerings at Cupid’s altar’, and in later ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers

20 September 2017
... Is that right?’ ‘Can I say that?’ ‘Does that make sense?’ – and then I began to understand what had happened to all of us. I first heard of John in the late 1960s when I was working at Faber and we were thinking whether or not to publish a translation of one of Alejo Carpentier’s magical realist novels. My boss told me to get in touch with someone called John Sturrock, who worked at ...

Homo Sexualis

Michael Ignatieff

4 March 1982
Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 
by Jeffrey Weeks.
Longman, 306 pp., £11, October 1981, 0 582 48333 6
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Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women 
by Alan Bell, Martin Weinberg and Sue Kiefer Hammersmith.
Indiana, 242 pp., £9, October 1981, 9780253166739
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Pornography and Silence 
by Susan Griffin.
Women’s Press, 277 pp., £4.75, October 1981, 0 7043 3877 7
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1 
by Michel​ Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Penguin, 176 pp., £2.25, May 1981, 0 14 022299 5
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... and desire, mind and body, history and eros? And why is sex so important to us anyway? Given the heritage of Aristotle’s homo civis, Augustine’s homo sanctus, Benjamin Franklin and Marx’s homo faber, Gradgrind’s homo economicus, why has the late 20th-century culture of narcissism embraced homo sexualis as its definition of human essence? Why, as Jeffrey Weeks asks, have sex and our gender ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?

18 April 2019
The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January, 978 0 571 31638 0
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..., and many thousands yet to come. Edited for the most part by John Haffenden, the edition builds on the collection made by the late Valerie Eliot and on many archives (especially those of Faber). Occasionally, there’s a page with only a couple of lines by Old Possum on it, and about fifty lines of small-print annotation, but the notes themselves contain a treasury of Eliotiana. There are ...


Clancy Martin: The Case of the Counterfeit Eggs

12 February 2009
... autobiographer and rumoured Soviet spy. In his jewellery operations at least, he was an incorrigible shyster and a shameless counterfeiter. Hammer is the most colourful character in Toby Faber’s Fabergé’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces that Outlived an Empire, which tells the story of the 50 imperial eggs, beginning with the Hen Egg, Alexander III’s first gift to ...

Dun and Gum

Nicholas Jose: Murray Bail

16 July 1998
by Murray Bail.
Harvill, 264 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 1 86046 494 7
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... which took its title from Mark Twain’s observation that Australian history contained weird, wonderful, terrible departures from civilised norms. As Bail later wrote in his Introduction to The Faber Book of Contemporary Australian Short Stories (1987), local fictioneers were licensed to subvert ‘a drought time of conservatism, conformity and censorship’ by following ‘the avant-garde ...

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