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Miss Simpson stayed to tea

Philippa Tristram, 20 April 1989

William Wordsworth: A Life 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, 525 pp., £17.50, March 1989, 0 19 812828 2
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... Most great writers, if only in indirect ways, offer some representation of their own life, but the biographer faces a particular problem where interpretation has already been shaped by his subject in autobiography. Wordsworth was not the only writer of his period to dislike the public appetite for private information, or to seek to forestall the biographer’s ‘abominable use’ of letters and personal anecdote by trying himself to control what should, and should not, be offered to the public ...

Little Bottles

Philippa Tristram, 22 February 1990

The Miraculous Pigtail 
by Feng Jicai.
Chinese Literature Press, Beijing, 312 pp., September 1988, 0 8351 2050 3
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Mimosa 
by Zhang Xianliang.
Chinese Literature Press, Beijing, 170 pp., January 1987, 0 8351 1336 1
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Dialogues in Paradise 
by Can Xue, translated by Ronald Jansson.
Northwestern, 173 pp., $17.95, June 1989, 0 8101 0830 5
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Baotown 
by Wang Anyi.
Penguin, 143 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 670 82622 7
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The Broken Betrothal 
by Gao Xiaosheng.
Chinese Literature Press, Beijing, 218 pp., December 1987, 0 8351 2051 1
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At Middle Age 
by Shen Rong.
Chinese Literature Press, Beijing, 366 pp., December 1987, 0 8351 1609 3
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Snuff-Bottles, and Other Stories 
by Deng Youmei.
Chinese Literature Press, Beijing, 220 pp., January 1987, 0 8351 1607 7
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... In the days of the Boxer Rebellion, when Chinese wore pigtails and exposure to foreign values was compulsory, they knew that Westerners were Chinese upside-down. As Yang remarks in The Miraculous Pigtail, which is set in that period: ‘Chinese shave their heads, foreigners their faces; Chinese write from right to left, foreigners from left to right; Chinese call the compass the “needle for fixing the south”, foreigners call it the “needle which points north”; Chinese have their tea-cup lids on top, foreigners have their, tea-cup lids underneath ...

Tiananmen Revisited

Philippa Tristram, 19 November 1992

... China must go forward; you shouldn’t dwell on what’s past,’ an American told me in Beijing last summer. He had decades of experience in China, and I could see what he meant, from a Chinese point of view. But from a Western one, Tiananmen does need to be revisited. If the bookstalls in Beijing offer only grossly biased accounts of ‘the Beijing turmoil’, at least few read them and fewer still believe them: the Chinese press is government-controlled ...

Four Walls

Peter Campbell, 20 April 1989

Living Space: In Fact and Fiction 
by Philippa Tristram.
Routledge, 306 pp., £40, January 1989, 0 415 01279 1
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Building Domestic Liberty 
by Polly Wynn Allen.
Massachusetts, 195 pp., £16.70, December 1988, 9780870236273
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Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb, 1820-1939 
by John Stilgoe.
Yale, 353 pp., £25, February 1989, 0 300 04257 4
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... possible that the new sensibility in architecture is only one aspect of a general cultural change. Philippa Tristram’s Living Space makes a convincing case for just such a general shift during the earlier Palladian/Picturesque transition. A particular example from the borderland where constructions of bricks and mortar and those of the mind ...

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