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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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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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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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... facts, though it is incorrect in implying that the post-war Secker and Warburg editions were the first translations of Colette to appear in Britain. It gives, however, no feel of Colette whatever. RobertPhelps 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 ...
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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... be necessary to read an infinity of novels.’ Such a wholesale reading of fiction takes on for 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 ...


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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... Turgenev could 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 ...


Angela Carter

2 October 1980
... egg’. And so on. But she gives the impression of telling all, in a literary form unclassifiable except as a version of what television has accustomed us to call ‘fictionalised documentary’. RobertPhelps 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 ...

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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... employment, marriages. He enjoyed wide recognition and often enough he finished his projects. Yet the things he wished he could do – ‘a dozen Chekhov-Shakespeare novels’, as one of his editors, RobertPhelps, 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 ...

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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... by the court have diluted this judgment, as justices seek to pick out a line between allowing injurious 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 ...

Tickle and Flutter

Terry Castle: Maude Hutchins’s Revenge

3 July 2008
... 1921 to 1948 – nearly the first half of her adult life – Hutchins found herself upstaged, maddeningly 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 ...
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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... in the late 1960s, and which has profoundly shifted the subject’s status, from being a client 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 ...

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