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Fan-de-Siècle

Brigid Brophy, 6 October 1983

Murasaki Shikibu: Her Diary and Poetic Memoirs, A Translation and Study 
by Richard Bowring.
Princeton, 290 pp., £21.70, August 1982, 0 691 06507 1
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Evelina 
by Fanny Burney.
Oxford, 421 pp., £2.50, April 1982, 0 19 281596 2
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The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney 
edited by Peter Hughes and Warren Derry.
Oxford, 624 pp., £37.50, September 1980, 0 19 812507 0
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Colette 
by Joanna Richardson.
Methuen, 276 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 413 48780 6
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Letters from Colette 
translated by Robert Phelps.
Virago, 214 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 86068 252 8
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... of Colette to appear in Britain. It gives, however, no feel of Colette whatever. Robert Phelps makes a sound and lively job of his selection of her letters, which constitutes in effect an autobiography in outline. He includes a letter (or is it a poem? is her concreteness of imagery in fact more Japanese than English?) that might be by ...

An Infinity of Novels

Philip Horne, 14 September 1989

A Short Guide to the World Novel: From Myth to Modernism 
by Gilbert Phelps.
Routledge, 397 pp., £30, September 1988, 0 415 00765 8
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The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction 
by John Sutherland.
Longman, 696 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 582 49040 5
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The Haunted Study: A Social History of the English Novel 1875-1914 
by Peter Keating.
Secker, 533 pp., £30, September 1989, 0 436 23248 0
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... many of us, as for Trollope, ‘a terrible aspect’. It doesn’t apparently, though, for Gilbert Phelps, John Sutherland and Peter Keating, surveyors and encyclopedists of the form who in their respective fields have laboured with energetic exhaustiveness and not broken down. Each of these books feels as if it takes in an infinity of novels, and each ...

w00t

Christopher Tayler: The Fabulous Elif Batuman, 17 February 2011

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them 
by Elif Batuman.
Granta, 296 pp., £16.99, April 2011, 978 1 84708 313 5
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... be read in English from 1855, Tolstoy had British and American disciples, and Dostoevsky was, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s view, ‘a devil of a swell, to be sure’. But the English-speaking world’s received ideas about Russian literature were mostly laid down in the 1910s and 1920s, the great age of Western interest in the Russian soul – ‘its ...

Colette

Angela Carter, 2 October 1980

... except as a version of what television has accustomed us to call ‘fictionalised documentary’. Robert Phelps was able to construct a perfectly coherent autobiography from Colette’s scattered reminiscences, and present The Earthly Paradise as if it were, not an imaginative parallel to her life, but the real thing. All Colette’s biographers, even ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee, 7 September 2006

‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... things he wished he could do – ‘a dozen Chekhov-Shakespeare novels’, as one of his editors, Robert Phelps, summarised a characteristic resolution; a life of Jesus; a novel about the atom bomb – were to become an almost public constituent of his writing life. His criticism is marked by the same mixture of yearning and disappointed hopes. Agee’s ...

Barrage Balloons of Fame

Christopher Tayler: We need to talk about Martin, 8 October 2020

Inside Story 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 521 pp., £20, September, 978 1 78733 275 1
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... a very strange scene in which an Amisian femme fatale sets out to turn Larkin on at a party in Robert Conquest’s flat. The femme fatale is called Phoebe Phelps. She’s presented as a slightly older woman for whom Amis had a troubling sexual passion between 1976 and 1980, which would make her a – perhaps the ...

Unlike a Scotch Egg

Glen Newey: Hate Speech, 5 December 2013

The Harm in Hate Speech 
by Jeremy Waldron.
Harvard, 292 pp., £19.95, June 2012, 978 0 674 06589 5
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... speech to flourish unchecked and repressing the robust exchange of opinions. In Snyder v. Phelps (2011), it ruled that the bereaved family of a marine killed in Iraq, whose funeral was picketed by bigots from Westboro Baptist Church chanting ‘fag troops’ and ‘thank God for dead soldiers’, could not recover damages for tortious infliction of ...

Tickle and Flutter

Terry Castle: Maude Hutchins’s Revenge, 3 July 2008

... enough, by an authentic boy wonder. Shortly before she began her college art studies Maude Phelps McVeigh married the precocious, prodigious, ‘collar-ad handsome’ Robert Maynard Hutchins, a brilliant young teacher and law student who became secretary to the Yale Corporation in 1923 at the age of 24. In 1928, soon ...

Thoughts on the New Economic History

David Cannadine, 15 April 1982

The Economic History of Britain since 1700. Vol. 1: 1700-1860 
edited by Roderick Floud and Donald McCloskey.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £25, October 1981, 0 521 23166 3
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The Economic History of Britain since 1700. Vol. II: 1860 to the 1970s 
edited by Roderick Floud and Donald McCloskey.
Cambridge, 485 pp., £30, October 1981, 0 521 23167 1
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The Population History of England 1541-1871: A Reconstruction 
by E.A. Wrigley.
Edward Arnold, 779 pp., £45, October 1982, 0 7131 6264 3
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The Decline of British Economic Power since 1870 
by M.W. Kirby.
Allen and Unwin, 211 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 04 942169 7
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The Coming of the Mass Market 1850-1914 
by Hamish Fraser.
Macmillan, 268 pp., £16, February 1982, 0 333 31034 9
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... of history to a vassal of economics. The two most famous works in this genre were both written by Robert Fogel, who was thus established as midwife and guru, entrepreneur and high priest, of this new cult. The first, Railroads and American Economic Growth, was an audaciously-conceived study which cut the iron horse so emphatically down to size, by exploring a ...

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