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Less a Wheel than a Wave

Dan Jacobson: Irène Némirovsky’s War, 11 May 2006

Suite Française 
by Irène Némirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith.
Chatto, 403 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 0 7011 7896 5
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... In one of the ruminative, generalising passages interspersed among the domestic and public scenes in War and Peace (battles, a formal ball, the burning of Moscow and so forth), Tolstoy grapples with the question of what degree of free will a human being of any social class might be supposed to have. The paradoxical conclusion he comes to is that the higher the position an individual occupies in his society, the less free he is to act as he wishes ...

Dots and Dashes

Namara Smith: Nick Drnaso, 4 April 2019

Sabrina 
by Nick Drnaso.
Granta, 203 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 78378 490 5
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... crew in his driveway, is caught on camera getting Sabrina’s name wrong (‘I didn’t even know Sandra’), digital vigilantes pounce on the slip as evidence that he is a crisis actor paid by the government. The next day, he sees his own deer-in-the-headlights face made into a meme, with arrows reading ‘liar!’ pointing at his head. Online, dozens of ...

Acrimony

Nina Auerbach: Feminists Fall Out, 6 July 2000

Critical Condition: Feminism at the Turn of the Century 
by Susan Gubar.
Columbia, 237 pp., £16, February 2000, 0 231 11580 6
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... writing about painting; visual art brightens her prose) and of the performance artist Anna Deavere Smith. As Gubar celebrates them, Ringgold and Deavere Smith offer visions of impossible reconciliation. Deavere Smith’s one-woman show, Fires in the Mirror, an account of the murderous ...

The Pleasures of Poverty

Barbara Everett, 6 September 1984

A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Letters and Diaries 
by Barbara Pym, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £12.95, July 1984, 0 333 34995 4
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... after she had achieved publication, problems remained. In a letter written to her close friend Bob Smith (who published the first appreciative essay on her novels) Barbara Pym lightly passes on the information from Cape that ‘8 Americans and 10 Continental publishers saw and “declined” ... Excellent Women and they are still plodding on with [Jane and ...

Blue Suede Studies

Hugh Barnes, 19 December 1985

Elvis and Me 
by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Sandra Harman.
Century, 320 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1131 2
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Are you lonesome tonight? 
by Alan Bleasdale.
Faber, 95 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 571 13732 6
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Elvis and Gladys 
by Elaine Dundy.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 9780297782100
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The Johnny Cash Discography 
by John Smith.
Greenwood, 203 pp., £29.95, May 1985, 0 313 24654 8
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Horse’s Neck 
by Pete Townshend.
Faber, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1985, 9780571138739
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Like Punk Never Happened 
by Dave Rimmer.
Faber, 191 pp., £4.95, October 1985, 0 571 13739 3
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Starlust: The Secret Fantasies of Fans 
by Fred Vermorel and Judy Vermorel.
Comet, 253 pp., £4.95, August 1985, 0 86379 004 6
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The Beatles 
by Hunter Davies.
Cape, 498 pp., £12.95, December 1985, 0 224 02837 5
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... spirit of the new music in the same way that the voice of Mahalia Jackson identified Gospel. John Smith’s discography of Johnny Cash, who was resident in Memphis at the time and also benefited from Phillips’s expertise, contributes to the idea of a movement. Presley’s intelligence, however, has always been in doubt. Joe Esposito, his infamous ...

Being splendid

Stephen Wall, 3 March 1988

Civil to Strangers 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 333 39128 4
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The Pleasure of Miss Pym 
by Charles Burkhart.
Texas, 120 pp., $17.95, July 1987, 0 292 76496 0
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The World of Barbara Pym 
by Janice Rossen.
Macmillan, 193 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 333 42372 0
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The Life and Work of Barbara Pym 
edited by Dale Salwak.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 333 40831 4
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... The heroine of Civil to Strangers is Cassandra Marsh-Gibbon (Barbara Pym addressed herself as ‘Sandra’ in her Oxford diaries) and she is married to a vain, hypochondriac but (to her) lovable novelist called Adam. Pym wrote to Henry Harvey at the time that ‘Adam is sweet but very stupid. You are sweet too, but not as consistently stupid as Adam.’ As ...

Reconstituted Chicken

Philip Kitcher, 2 October 1997

This is Biology 
by Ernst Mayr.
Harvard, 340 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 9780674884687
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... The principal villains seen as promulgating these doctrines are scholars like Harry Collins, Sandra Harding, Bruno Latour, Simon Schaffer and Steven Shapin. Now whether these alleged enemies have anything in common, and whether there is a genuine package of claims about science that count as constructivism or relativism or Post-Modernism are serious ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... from 1660 – this is omitting foreign authors, pseudonymous characters like ‘Captain Alexander Smith’, and others whose masculinity may be nominal. It would be rash to expect all these to qualify for Spender’s epithet ‘good’. But if Ann Emelinda Skinn and M. Peddle (two of Dale’s hundred best tunes) deserve a place in the record, it is not ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... years later he and his wife Elizabeth left England for Nauvoo, Illinois. There he built Joseph Smith a temple that was not quite completed when the prophet was shot dead by a mob. Another mob burned down Miles’s temple, and he fled Nauvoo with his family. Hounded by animals, Indians and more mobs, they made their way to Salt Lake City, where he helped ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... seem to come in generational bursts). All writers on the Brontës now benefit from Margaret Smith’s magisterial – much overdue – edition of Charlotte’s extant letters, published by Oxford in three volumes between 1995 and 2004. Barker and Gordon have both made contributions to this anniversary season: Barker’s publishers have issued an updated ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... the son of the author of Wind in the Willows? A. A nickname: Mouse. Tell the Bede story to Maggie Smith, who recalls some lines she had to sing in revue: Oh, I am the Venerable Bede I can scarcely write and just about read. 18 February. Listening to the last movement of Elgar’s First Symphony I’m put in mind of some huge submerged mass coming to the ...

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