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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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... ever tried to write a Victorian novel? Here’s a beginning, with apologies to Sarah Waters and Michel Faber (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. The rookeries are emptying, and their birds of ...

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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... or sometimes ‘neo-sensationalism’, whose exponents include A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters and Michel Faber. 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, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray and Wilkie Collins, but ...


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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... 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 life sets up other households besides the one he ...

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 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... 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 a few very minor mistakes, but in scope, detail and ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 September 2017

... 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 the TLS and knew Spanish and knew about magical realism; he ...

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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... 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 identities become the central part of being, the ‘privileged ...


Clancy Martin: The Case of the Counterfeit Eggs, 12 February 2009

... 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 his wife, Marie Fedorovna, and ending, after the descent ...

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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... 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 strategy of provocative revision ... giving realism an extra ...

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