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Roman Fever

Sarah Perry, 26 September 2019

Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire 
by Jessica Howell.
Cambridge, 238 pp., £75, October 2018, 978 1 108 48468 8
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... David Soren​ of the University of Arizona was excavating the remains of a villa just outside Lugnano in Umbria in 1992 when he uncovered a fifth-century mass grave: 47 small skeletons had been interred in layers, some pressed into large amphorae. A number of them were newborn babies. The deepest layer held only a corpse or two, but the higher levels were increasingly populated ...


Sarah Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’, 5 July 2018

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... In​ the small hours of a spring morning last year I asked for a hot-water bottle to be put on my calf: a ruptured disc was crushing my sciatic nerve, causing leg pain unappeased by opioids and benzodiazepines. I went back to sleep. When I woke up, I felt a damp substance on my leg, and when I wiped it off, I noticed a wet white rag was hanging from my fingertips ...


Edmund Gordon: ‘Melmoth’, 3 January 2019

by Sarah Perry.
Serpent’s Tail, 271 pp., £16.99, October 2018, 978 1 78816 065 0
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... Sarah Perry​ was raised a Strict Baptist, with a number of exotic beliefs – in the literal existence of the devil, the creation of the earth in six days, the sinfulness of women wearing trousers – whose most visible legacy is her interest in ethical and existential questions. That makes her rare among her generation of British writers ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens, 28 June 1990

Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... boring and pointless.’ And Oliver Pritchett tells Alexander Chancellor a middling good yarn (‘Perry’ is Peregrine Worsthorne): He said he’d just seen the most sinister man he’d ever clapped eyes on moving towards Perry’s office and was terribly afraid that the man’s intention was to murder poor ...

Stop all the cocks!

James Lasdun: Who killed Jane Stanford?, 1 December 2022

Who Killed Jane Stanford? A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of a University 
by Richard White.
Norton, 362 pp., £25, August 2022, 978 1 324 00433 2
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... been seized by the monument-building urge, they simply wouldn’t exist. Whatever else it may be, Sarah Lawrence is William Van Duzer Lawrence’s tribute to his wife, Sarah; Vassar is Matthew Vassar’s tribute to himself. Smith and Williams, in Massachusetts, sprang up to commemorate their donors. But for sheer ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... residence with stags’ heads in the hall. In the dining room there were laptops everywhere. Sarah Harrison, Assange’s personal assistant and girlfriend, was wearing a woolly jumper and kept scraping her ringlets off her face. Another girl, maybe Spanish or South American or Eastern European, came into the drawing room where the fire was blazing. I ...

Pretty Much like Ourselves

Terry Eagleton, 4 September 1997

Modern British Utopias 1700-1850 
by Gregory Claeys.
Pickering & Chatto, 4128 pp., £550, March 1997, 1 85196 319 7
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... to the interior of New Holland (1837) hold casual buffets rather than dinner parties. In Sarah Scott’s A Description of Millennium Hall (1778), utopia is a country mansion in Cornwall, an anodyne English pastoral in which female midgets play the harpsichord and tend the shrubberies. For the English the ideal society needs to have an old orchard and ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... from which it was plain that Taylor had married Margery Sophia Richardson while already married to Sarah Marshall, whom he knew to be still living. It appeared in evidence that, on his arrest, Taylor had said: ‘There are two marriages, but he had a good defence to make.’ In fact, the nearest thing he had to a defence was ruled inadmissible: ...

Into the Big Tent

Benjamin Kunkel: Fredric Jameson, 22 April 2010

Valences of the Dialectic 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 625 pp., £29.99, October 2009, 978 1 85984 877 7
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... vice versa. It’s perhaps not much harder to grasp the idea of Fredric Jameson and someone like Sarah Palin as two faces of the same coin, figures truly as absurd as their opponents make them out to be, but only because the system itself is utterly cracked. So intellectual debility becomes a badge of populism, and socialist learning a hobby of rich ...

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