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A Broken Teacup

Amanda Claybaugh: The ambition of William Dean Howells, 6 October 2005

William Dean Howells: A Writer’s Life 
by Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson.
California, 519 pp., £22.95, May 2005, 0 520 23896 6
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... A number of biographers and a handful of critics have long sought to restore his reputation; Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson are the latest. Vivid, judicious, sympathetic to its subject and sensitive to the historical context, their biography provides a compelling introduction to Howells. It also challenges those who think they know him well by ...

Making history

Malise Ruthven, 19 June 1986

Gertrude Bell 
by Susan Goodman.
Berg, 122 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 907582 86 9
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Freya Stark 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Viking, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 670 80675 7
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... her companions in the new Berg Women’s Series, Mme de Stael and Emily Dickinson.* Unfortunately Susan Goodman’s book is somewhat unbalanced, sloppily written (‘her heart over brimmed with romance’), littered with irritating errors and grammatical infelicities, falling far short of the standard set for the series by Renée Winegarten’s excellent ...

How do you see Susan?

Mary Beard: No Asp for Zenobia, 20 March 2003

Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth 
by Michel Chauveau, translated by David Lorton.
Cornell, 104 pp., £14.95, April 2002, 0 8014 3867 5
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The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations 
by Maria Wyke.
Oxford, 452 pp., £40, March 2002, 9780198150756
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... mixture of kitsch, glamour and classically inspired wit. One of the most memorable images is Susan Hayward’s 1955 advertisement for Lux soap, which pointedly contrasts the star’s role as Messalina in Demetrius and the Gladiators – ‘one of the hardest women in history’ – with the sweetness, charm and softness of her skin. The ad shows Hayward ...

Do Not Scribble

Amanda Vickery: Letter-Writing, 4 November 2010

The Pen and the People: English Letter-Writers 1660-1800 
by Susan Whyman.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 19 953244 5
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Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters 
by Dena Goodman.
Cornell, 408 pp., £24.50, June 2009, 978 0 8014 7545 0
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... of research. The different spin the authors put on developments is captured in their titles. Dena Goodman’s elegant study, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters, charts the way literate and privileged (though not necessarily noble) French women colonised letter-writing, which was simultaneously ‘inscribed into the meaning and practice of modern ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... One of the most appealing things about Susan Sontag was that she didn’t ask to be liked. Other postwar American writers who cut the same sort of public figure pleaded with you to love their outsized faults, embrace their dumb enthusiasms, and cast in your lot with theirs through recounted divorces, nervous breakdowns, lusts ...

I wish she’d been a dog

Elaine Showalter, 7 February 1991

Jean Stafford: The Savage Heart 
by Charlotte Margolis Goodman.
Texas, 394 pp., $24.95, May 1990, 0 292 74022 0
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... theme is “failed promise”, if not outright “tragedy”.’ In contrast, Charlotte Margolis Goodman’s Jean Stafford: The Savage Heart is a respectful literary biography written from a feminist perspective, which draws extensively on Stafford’s unpublished novels and stories in the University of Colorado. ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... Benjamin​ Moser begins his biography with a bang: ‘Susan Sontag was America’s last great literary star.’ In my gaudier moments I prefer to think of Sontag as American literature’s first and last great screen star. Transcending staid text, she was projected into the avid imaginations of legions of onlookers who didn’t know Walter Benjamin from Walter Brennan ...

On V.R. Lang

Mark Ford, 4 July 2024

... theatrical troupe, of which the presiding spirits were Lang and Molly Howe (mother of the poets Susan and Fanny Howe), who had trained at the Abbey Theatre in the 1920s and had been directed by Yeats. Other founding members included O’Hara, John Ashbery, Edward Gorey and Donald Hall, all recent Harvard graduates in their early twenties, as well as those ...

Andy Paperbag

Hal Foster: Andy Warhol, 21 March 2002

Andy Warhol 
by Wayne Koestenbaum.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £12.99, November 2001, 0 297 64630 3
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... between the two spheres. Such customising of images is close to ‘camp’ as defined by Susan Sontag. Alert to the queer dimension of this sensibility (her celebrated 1964 essay reads in part like a field report on the gay underground of Warhol, the filmmaker Jack Smith and others), Sontag saw camp as ‘dandyism in the age of mass ...

Bizarre and Wonderful

Wes Enzinna: Murray Bookchin, Eco-Anarchist, 4 May 2017

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin 
by Janet Biehl.
Oxford, 344 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 0 19 934248 8
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... due to the work of activists he’d trained. Anarchist writers like Kropotkin, Bakunin and Paul Goodman had invigorated his analysis, but there had always been a tension between those, like Bookchin, who believed anarchism to be a philosophy of radical democracy, and those who took it to be a philosophy of radical individualism. The latter group, by ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... classes click like castanets. He lands a big one right out of the box when he pounces on Paul Goodman’s Growing Up Absurd after it was rejected up and down publishers’ row: Podhoretz spots it as a zeitgeist mover and serialises in Commentary to a rousing welcome. ‘The Goodman pieces, so fresh in outlook and so ...

What We’re about to Receive

Jeremy Harding: Food Insecurity, 13 May 2010

... 400 pp., £7.99, September 2006, 978 0 09 950402 3Food Futures: Rethinking UK Strategy by Susan Ambler-Edwards, Kate Bailey, Alexandra Kiff, Tim Lang, Robert Lee, Terry Marsden, David Simons and Hardin Tibbs.Chatham House, 50 pp., February 2009 Food Prices: Drivers and Implications ...

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