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Soothe and Scold

Helen McCarthy: Mothers, 12 September 2019

Mother: An Unconventional History 
by Sarah Knott.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, March 2019, 978 0 241 19860 5
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... feed, wash, soothe and scold an infant, and something like a history of mothering comes into view. Sarah Knott privileges anecdote in her account of mothering in Britain and North America over the past four centuries, partly because she wants to think about subjectivity and experience, but also because anecdote implies interruption, distraction and ...

Badger Claws

Julian Barnes: Poil de Carotte, 30 June 2011

Nature Stories 
by Jules Renard, translated by Douglas Parmée.
NYRB, 165 pp., £8.99, March 2011, 978 1 59017 364 0
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... the Parisian Renard had a wide sweep of artistic and political friendships, from Rodin and Sarah Bernhardt to Gide and Valéry to Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum. His politics were socialist and Dreyfusard; he also moved in the circle around the Revue blanche. The first three editions of Histoires naturelles were illustrated by Félix ...

Keep me

Alison Jolly: Natural selection and females, 10 August 2000

Mother Nature: Natural Selection and the Female of the Species 
by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.
Chatto, 697 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7011 6625 8
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... Sarah Hrdy is tough-minded about a tender subject. Motherhood, she says, is a minefield. Mothers love babies passionately – but not unconditionally. We have evolved as adept sociobiologists, able to calculate love. On the other side of the relationship, baby love is unconditional, indeed desperate. Babies want it all, every scrap of attention they can command, at least up to the point where the mother would be so exhausted that her failure would rebound on the baby itself ...

Plan it mañana

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Albert O. Hirschman, 10 September 2014

Wordly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman 
by Jeremy Adelman.
Princeton, 740 pp., £27.95, April 2013, 978 0 691 15567 8
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The Essential Hirschman 
edited by Jeremy Adelman.
Princeton, 367 pp., £19.95, October 2013, 978 0 691 15990 4
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... on the first evening he spent with his future wife at the International House in Berkeley in 1941. Sarah Hirschman, as she soon became, was Russian by origin, and they conversed for years in French. Their many letters are among Adelman’s best sources. Hirschman thought he should join the American army. Not to fight perhaps; to do something useful in ...

Imagining the Suburbs

Stan Smith, 9 January 1992

Common Knowledge 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 62 pp., £6, April 1991, 0 436 20037 6
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The Son of the Duke of Nowhere 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 57 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 571 16140 5
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Bridge Passages 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 63 pp., £5.99, March 1991, 0 19 282821 5
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Time Zones 
by Fleur Adcock.
Oxford, 54 pp., £5.99, March 1991, 0 19 282831 2
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Selected Poems 
by Fleur Adcock.
Oxford, 125 pp., £6.99, March 1991, 0 19 558100 8
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Spilt Milk 
by Sarah Maguire.
Secker, 50 pp., £6, April 1991, 0 436 27095 1
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The Sirocco Room 
by Jamie McKendrick.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, March 1991, 0 19 282820 7
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Householder 
by Gerard Woodward.
Chatto, 80 pp., £5.99, April 1991, 0 7011 3758 4
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... pointlessly climbed a stick in the forest, pointlessly descend it. The Duke of Nowhere is also the grand old Duke of York. This motif is repeated on a human scale in the inconsequential narrative of ‘The End of the Line’ (the ‘line’ being both railway and story), where a nameless woman speculates about the only other passenger on the train to the ...

Beyond the Cringe

John Barrell: British Art, 1 June 2016

Art in Britain 1660-1815 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 367 pp., £55, October 2015, 978 0 300 21556 4
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... as the mothers of children, but still with something of the look of a court ‘beauty’, as Sarah Churchill appears in John Closterman’s group portrait of the Marlborough family at Blenheim: an aristocratic lady with an authority that comes in part from her willingness to adopt something of the more responsible values of the middling class. Once the ...

Diary

Rebecca Solnit: After the Oil Spill, 5 August 2010

... VOCs in most oils are benzene toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.When I went out on the sea from Grand Isle, which is hardly more than a great sandbar at the end of the watery land south of the city, 109 miles from it by car, the taste was much stronger, and one of my companions on the boat had run into far worse. Drew Wheelan, a birdwatcher from the ...

Steamy, Seamy

David Margolick: The Mob’s Cuban Kleptocracy, 20 March 2008

The Havana Mob: Gangsters, Gamblers, Showgirls and Revolutionaries in 1950s Cuba 
by T.J. English.
Mainstream, 400 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 1 84596 192 3
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... ingenuity and powered by Russian engines and other improvised innards. But on the Malecón, the grand boulevard along the Caribbean at the city’s northern edge, stands a row of other remnants from that era: battered off-white hulks like a mouthful of decayed, cigar-stained teeth. We recognise them from photographs taken in the 1950s, usually showing men ...

On the Dickman Brothers

Stephanie Burt, 2 February 2017

... in hardened clay, back from the planet you discovered but never had time to name.If Michael risks grand whines, Matthew risks producing regular-guy monologues, like any number of affable poets from America’s 1990s (Campbell McGrath, for example). Matthew aspires To walk barefoot on the cold stone and know that the woman you love is also walking barefoot on ...

Just like Mother

Theo Tait: Richard Yates, 6 February 2003

Collected Stories 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 474 pp., £17.99, January 2002, 0 413 77125 3
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 346 pp., £6.99, February 2001, 0 413 75710 2
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The Easter Parade 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 226 pp., £10, January 2003, 0 413 77202 0
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... too much; she flirts, most inappropriately, with married acquaintances; she deludes herself on a grand scale, and rounds shrieking on anyone who attempts to disillusion her. If necessary, she will fake a fit to make a point. In one memorable incarnation, she gets drunk at a party and deposits a ‘slick mouthful of puke’ on her son’s pillow. On two ...

A Blizzard of Tiny Kisses

Clive James, 5 June 1980

Princess Daisy 
by Judith Krantz.
Sidgwick, 464 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 283 98647 6
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... gusto, but when easy familiarity is what you are trying to convey, gush is to be avoided. Full of grand meals served and consumed at chapter length, Princess Daisy reads like Buddenbrooks without the talent. Food is important to Mrs Krantz: so important that her characters keep turning into it, when they are not turning into animals. Daisy has a half-brother ...

Solus lodges at the Tate

Peter Campbell, 4 June 1987

J.M.W. Turner: ‘A Wonderful Range of Mind’ 
by John Gage.
Yale, 262 pp., £19.95, March 1987, 0 300 03779 1
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Turner in his Time 
by Andrew Wilton.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 500 09178 1
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Turner in the South: Rome, Naples, Florence 
by Cecilia Powell.
Yale, 216 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 300 03870 4
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The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner 
by Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll.
Yale, 944 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 300 03361 3
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The Turner Collection in the Clore Gallery 
Tate Gallery, 128 pp., £9.95, April 1987, 0 946590 69 9Show More
Turner Watercolours 
by Andrew Wilton.
Tate Gallery, 148 pp., £17.95, April 1987, 0 946590 67 2
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... the bolt hole Turner the famous painter had in the character of Turner, common-law husband of Sarah Danby and father of two daughters by her, or, later, Turner, alias Booth (sometimes Admiral Booth), common-law husband of Mrs Booth in Chelsea. His domestic relations with these women are undocumented. Negligible provision was made for them in his various ...

What’s Coming

David Edgar: J.M. Synge, 22 March 2001

Fool of the Family: A Life of J.M. Synge 
by W.J. McCormack.
Weidenfeld, 499 pp., £25, March 2000, 0 297 64612 5
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Interpreting Synge: Essays from the Synge Summer School 1991-2000 
edited by Nicholas Grene.
Lilliput, 220 pp., £29.95, July 2000, 1 901866 47 5
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... home and husband is thrust on her. The protagonists of The Tinker’s Wedding are more proactive. Sarah has resolved to raise her social status a notch or two by marrying Michael, properly, in church. The farce of the play consists of the couple’s frustrating attempts to negotiate financial terms with a passing priest and then to keep to them; at the ...

Figures in Rooms, Rooms with Figures

Peter Campbell: Bonnard, 19 March 1998

Bonnard 
by Timothy Hyman.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, February 1998, 0 500 20310 5
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Bonnard 
by Sarah Whitfield and John Elderfield.
Tate Gallery, 272 pp., £35, June 1998, 1 85437 243 2
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... about on very high heels like some bright-plumaged bird’. It is not that Hyman’s Bonnard or Sarah Whitfield’s essay in the Tate catalogue – both excellent, and usefully complementing each other – gives a very different account of the relationship from the one that limited anecdotal evidence had built up in the years since Bonnard’s death ...

Dreadful Apprehensions

Clare Bucknell: Collier and Fielding, 25 October 2018

The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable 
by Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier, edited by Carolyn Woodward.
Kentucky, 406 pp., £86.50, November 2017, 978 0 8131 7410 5
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... scratch. The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable (1754) was a collaboration between Collier and her friend Sarah Fielding, author of the sentimental novel The Adventures of David Simple (1744) and contributor to her brother Henry’s Joseph Andrews (1742). They had worked together before – Collier wrote a preface for the 1753 sequel to David Simple, and in 1749 they ...

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