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Diary

Rosemary Dinnage: In Paris, 2 February 1984

... Love: popular music, schmaltzy tunes, have always told us this was what Paris was for. But ‘en France maintenant, les intellectuels ne baisent pas,’ says Lucienne. She has four children by her French professor husband, nevertheless, and one by her English lover, and leads a busy commuting life. Husband and lover are friends and child care is shared ...

Seeing things

Rosemary Dinnage, 4 December 1980

The Story of Ruth 
by Morton Schatzman.
Duckworth, 306 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 7156 1504 1
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... The jacket of The Story of Ruth is adorned with praise from the famous: Edna O’Brien, among others, found it ‘disturbing and quite fascinating’, and Doris Lessing ‘a valuable book, an original’. It is a pity it comes in the kind of packaging that will repel the averagely fastidious reader. Duckworth have printed it in type about one size smaller than that of a Janet and John reader, and sub-titled it ‘one woman’s haunting psychiatric odyssey ...

Holy Roman Empire

Rosemary Dinnage, 3 November 1983

Cold Heaven 
by Brian Moore.
Cape, 271 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 224 02099 4
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Time After Time 
by Molly Keane.
Deutsch, 247 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 9780233975870
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Winter’s Tale 
by Mark Helprin.
Weidenfeld, 673 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 297 78329 7
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August 
by Judith Rossner.
Cape, 376 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 224 02172 9
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Kiss of Life 
by Keith Colquhoun.
Murray, 159 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 7195 4082 8
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... If Greeneland is the most famous sex ’n religion territory, its next-door neighbour must surely be Mooreland. Brian Moore has staked out a very specific American-Irish, Catholic subject-matter and has rightly earned high praise. Unlike Greene, he usually makes his central, guilt-ridden character a woman, and he is more inclined than Greene to take off into the fantastic or supernatural ...

Vile Bodies

Rosemary Dinnage, 18 September 1980

Prostitutes: Our Life 
edited by Claude Jaget, translated by Anna Furse, Suize Fleming and Ruth Hall.
Falling Wall Press, 221 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 0 905046 12 9
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... Prostitution is not going to disappear for a long time, says one of the six women who tells her story here, so it is time people accepted prostitutes. ‘They could at least be ready to look them in the face and acknowledge them,’ she says; and so say the other five, and the heads of the prostitutes’ collectives who have contributed chapters, and the male journalist who edits the book; fair play, both legally and socially, is what they ask for, for working women who have simply struck a private bargain with another individual ...

What did Freud want?

Rosemary Dinnage, 3 December 1992

Freud’s Women 
by Lisa Appignanesi and John Forrester.
Weidenfeld, 563 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 297 81244 0
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Psychoanalysis in its Cultural Context 
edited by Edward Timms and Ritchie Robertson.
Edinburgh, 209 pp., £30, August 1992, 9780748603596
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... The sharpest comment in Freud’s Women – a huge book, but consistently readable – comes at the end. It would be eccentric, say the authors, to conclude after five hundred-odd pages that Freud’s significance for women lies in his having been the first equal-opportunities employer. Eccentric, but rather tempting because, in his famously ambivalent way, he left such a paradox behind ...

I want to be real

Rosemary Dinnage, 27 May 1993

Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: Theosophy and the Emergence of the Western Guru 
by Peter Washington.
Secker, 470 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 436 56418 1
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... Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, kept in her New York apartment in the 1870s a stuffed baboon with a copy of The Origin of Species under its arm, along with a platonically infatuated colonel, a golden Buddha, and piles of esoteric books. The baboon represented the science and materialism which were creeping up on the late 19th century and which Blavatsky and many others felt to be threatening and arid ...

Diary

Rosemary Dinnage: Remembering (and Forgetting) 1943, 18 May 2000

... In 1943, victory for the Allies being in sight, I was in Princeton, after three and a half years in Canada as a wartime evacuee, waiting for a passage home on a safe neutral ship. My temporary host was principal of the Institute of Advanced Study; he and his wife lived in one of those 19th-century clapboard houses that are the pride of American suburbia ...

Wanting and Not Getting, Getting and Not Wanting

Rosemary Dinnage, 21 February 1980

My Life 
by George Sand, translated and adapted by Dan Hofstadter.
Gollancz, 246 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 575 02682 0
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George Sand in her Own Words 
edited and translated by Joseph Barry.
Quartet, 475 pp., £7.50, November 1980, 0 7043 2235 8
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... The 19th century loved George Sand: the Brownings, the Carlyles, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Ruskin, Whitman all read her; Arnold preferred her to Dickens; George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë were influenced by her; G.H. Lewes in a rash moment called her the most remarkable writer of the century. Henry James, of all people, loved her ‘serene volubility ...

Happy you!

Rosemary Dinnage, 21 July 1994

Intimate Letters: Leoš Janáček to Kamilá Stösslová 
edited and translated by John Tyrrell.
Faber, 397 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 571 14466 7
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Pirandello’s Love Letters to Marta Abba 
edited and translated by Benito Ortolani.
Princeton, 363 pp., £24.95, June 1994, 0 691 03499 0
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Significant Others: Creativity and Intimate Partnership 
edited by Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtivron.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 9780500015667
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... Reading the passionate letters of Janácek and Pirandello, two elderly men writing to two much younger women, one is led to wonder whether relationships quite like this would be possible today – even assuming the telephone did not exist and letters were still written. The Twenties were not so extremely long ago, not a period of fans and fainting fits and cabriolets ...

Streamlined Smiles

Rosemary Dinnage: Erik Erikson, 2 March 2000

Identity’s Architect: A Biography of Erik Erikson 
by Lawrence Friedman.
Free Association, 592 pp., £15.95, May 1999, 9781853434716
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... Psychoanalysts and psychologists have always done it: construct the final theory about human nature around their own problems in life. Few did so more strikingly than Erik Erikson, ‘identity’s architect’ as he is rather grandiosely titled by Lawrence Friedman: he made identity his key concept because it was something he was deprived of in a dramatic way ...

Big Thinks

Rosemary Dinnage, 22 June 2000

Selected Letters of Rebecca West 
edited by Bonnie Kime Scott.
Yale, 497 pp., £22.50, May 2000, 0 300 07904 4
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... Rebecca West died 17 years ago at 90, in a comfortable flat overlooking Hyde Park. She was a Dame Commander of the British Empire, to her amusement and gratification. Will she be remembered more as a character, thoroughly damely and commanding, or for her writings? Eleven novels, of no outstanding literary merit; nine other books on general subjects, of which the most admired (and especially relevant today) is Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, on Yugoslavia; a mass of articles on the public affairs of her time ...

Diary

Rosemary Dinnage: Evacuees, 14 October 1999

... Everyone knows the pictures: ranks of small children, smiling ones pushed to the front, the boys with Just William socks and the girls with brutally chopped hair, and each one with a luggage label on the collar and a gas-mask over the shoulder. Few people can have missed all the recent media stories about the evacuation of more than a million city children as soon as war was declared in 1939 ...

Brute Nature

Rosemary Dinnage, 6 March 1997

Masters of Bedlam: The Transformation of the Mad-Doctoring Trade 
by Andrew Scull, Charlotte Mackenzie and Nicholas Hervey.
Princeton, 363 pp., £23, February 1997, 0 691 03411 7
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... In 1843, the artist Richard Dadd murdered his father and was put away in Bethlem Hospital, Britain’s oldest lunatic asylum; his portrait of the alienist Sir Alexander Morison stares from the cover of Masters of Bedlam, gauntly silhouetted against a mottled sky. He seems to be looking at something he finds hard to bear. The brief biographies of 19th-century alienists through which Andrew Scull, Charlotte MacKenzie and Nicholas Hervey tell the story of the century’s dealings with the mad make it clear that Morison’s haunted expression could have been that of any of the seven ‘mad-doctors’ described here ...

Like a Retired Madam

Rosemary Dinnage: Entranced!, 4 February 1999

Mesmerised: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain 
by Alison Winter.
Chicago, 464 pp., £23.95, December 1998, 0 226 90219 6
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... What is it that makes the lodestone attract the needle? What is the secret of electricity?’ asks the heroine of a popular novel published in 1845: Who can account for the shock of the galvanic battery, or of the electric eel, or for the phenomena of crystallisation? Why does opium produce sleep ... all these come from God, so I do believe that Mesmerism and its prodigies ...

De Mortuis

Christopher Driver, 28 June 1990

The Ruffian on the Stair: Reflection on Death 
edited by Rosemary Dinnage.
Viking, 291 pp., £14.99, April 1990, 0 670 82763 0
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Death, Ritual and Bereavement 
edited by Ralph Houlbrooke.
Routledge, 250 pp., £35, October 1990, 0 415 01165 5
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In the Face of Death 
by Peter Noll, translated by Hans Noll.
Viking, 254 pp., £15.99, April 1990, 0 670 80703 6
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... at his mother’s bedside in 1635 – now that is really difficult. One name is common to Rosemary Dinnage’s thanatological anthology of personal views about hopes and fears, and the social-historical essays edited by Ralph Houlbrooke: Roy Porter, the historian of medicine. Both in his recorded conversation with ...

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