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Into Thin Air

Marina Warner: Science at the Séances, 3 October 2002

The Invention of Telepathy 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Oxford, 334 pp., £35, June 2002, 0 19 924962 8
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... of the questions it put, and the effect it had on ideas of the self in psychology and literature. Pamela Thurschwell’s fine study of Henry James, Oscar Wilde and George du Maurier1 showed how profoundly the developments in ‘magical thinking’ reverberated in fiction and its portrayal of character and perception; and Malcolm Gaskill recently tackled, with ...

As Many Pairs of Shoes as She Likes

Jenny Turner: On Feminism, 15 December 2011

... said she was ‘baffled’ by her own behaviour – she had a much nicer TV set at home. Shonola Smith, 22, pleaded guilty, along with her sister and a friend, to ‘entering’ Argos in Croydon: ‘The tragedy is that you are all of previous good character,’ the judge said, as he sentenced them to six months each. Chelsea Ives, the 18-year-old ‘shamed ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote, 2 April 1998

Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... paradox’. DORIS LILLY: There was a lot of wondering about who the original Holly Golightly was. Pamela Drake and I were living in this brownstone walk-up on East 78th Street, exactly the one in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Exactly. Truman used to come over all the time and watch me put make-up on before I went out … There’s an awful lot of me in Holly ...

The Real Price of Everything

Hilary Mantel: The Many Lives of Elizabeth Marsh, 21 June 2007

The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History 
by Linda Colley.
HarperPress, 363 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 00 719218 2
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... or what she chose to tell. The idea was that she would appear as much like Richardson’s Pamela as possible. Innocence – not her native toughness, grit and resourcefulness – is her main weapon. The Elizabeth Marsh of the narrative introduces pious glosses, calls on Providence, faints and weeps. All the same, Colley says, The Female Captive is ...

Just Two Clicks

Jonathan Raban: The Virtual Life of Neil Entwistle, 14 August 2008

... Pumps! No Surgery!’). Another site, registered to the same address on Heslington Road by ‘Mark Smith’, apparently an alias for Entwistle, was, which promised ‘Over 150,000 images of innocent teens’, ‘Real World Hidden Sex Cams’ and ‘Live sex shows where you tell girls what to do’. The nastiness of these efforts shouldn’t ...

The Queen and I

William Empson and John Haffenden, 26 November 1987

... of The Birth of Steel within a few days. The plot tells how a Medieval alchemist – aptly named Smith – is baffled in his attempts to fashion a steel sword: mocked by his minions, he appeals to Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, who thereupon enters in majesty and introduces the instruments of modern science. The open-air production took full shape during ...


Ian Penman: Elvis looks for meaning, 25 September 2014

Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died 
by Dylan Jones.
Duckworth, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7156 4856 8
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Elvis Presley: A Southern Life 
by Joel Williamson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 19 986317 4
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... she was gone: ‘She’s all we lived for.’ Before she met Elvis’s father, she was Gladys Love Smith. Her mother was Octavia Luvenia Mansell, her great-grandmother was a Cherokee, Morning White Dove. These were stoical and wilful women; whereas the Presley men were not what you’d call an unmixed blessing. Elvis’s great-grandfather, Dunnan Presley ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... placed Ackroyd’s Blake at number three in their non-fiction bestseller list (behind Delia Smith and The Diaries of Cynthia Gladwyn.) They glossed the book, for the benefit of readers who had managed to bypass the promotional campaign, as: ‘The supreme Londoner.’ What isn’t clear is whether they were alluding to Blake or to ...

Who do you think you are?

Jacqueline Rose: Trans Narratives, 5 May 2016

... in order to embody femininity as to expose it, to push it right over the edge. Hence her parody of Pamela Anderson (who is of course already a parody of herself): an ‘imitation of an imitation of an idea of a woman. An image which has never existed in nature.’ The question​ of embodiment therefore brings another with it. Does the transsexual woman or ...

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