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Making sentences

Philip Horne, 21 November 1991

The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... what their lives might mean. His novels help us in another way, with the meanings of lives, and Millicent Bell’s fine book Meaning in Henry James reminds us that a character’s experience at a given moment in our reading is alive with plottable possibilities. As she says, ‘because he believed that human life was itself a path picked out, like a ...

Bitchy Little Spinster

Joanne O’Leary: Queens of Amherst, 3 June 2021

After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet 
by Julie Dobrow.
Norton, 448 pp., £13.99, January 2020, 978 0 393 35749 3
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... editing and promoting Dickinson’s work. It also chronicles the trials of her daughter, Millicent Bingham. The first woman to receive a doctorate in geography from Harvard, she sacrificed her academic career to finish the editorial work her mother began. Readers may not agree with the version of Emily Dickinson they presented, or approve of the ...

Seedy Equations

Adam Mars-Jones: Dealing with James Purdy, 18 May 2023

James Purdy: Life of a Contrarian Writer 
by Michael Snyder.
Oxford, 444 pp., £27, January, 978 0 19 760972 9
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... down-at-heel Iris Murdoch, working seedier equations’. Sheed may have been thinking of The Bell (1958), in which the character of Michael refuses the love of Nick, despite returning it. Nick kills himself as a result. The moral logic of Murdoch’s novel requires Michael to acknowledge his fault, in which the gender of the loving parties is neither an ...

Emily v. Mabel

Susan Eilenberg: Emily Dickinson, 30 June 2011

Lives like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Virago, 491 pp., £9.99, April 2011, 978 1 84408 453 1
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Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 535 pp., £25.95, September 2010, 978 0 674 04867 6
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... editions by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Martha Dickinson Bianchi and Millicent Todd Bingham in the last years of the 19th century and the opening decades of the 20th. Thomas H. Johnson’s solid scholarly edition of the poetry was published in 1955; Richard Sewall’s massive scholarly biography of the poet and her family in ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... form of comedy sketch shows then demanded a musical interlude between items, Kathy Kirby, say, or Millicent Martin. Boldly (as we thought) we opted for poems instead and were considered very eccentric, but Frank Muir, then head of comedy, and David Attenborough, the controller of BBC2, said it was all right and so we filmed Palmers to illustrate Larkin’s ...

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