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Sheer Enthusiasm

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Zadie Smith, 30 August 2018

Feel Free: Essays 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £20, February 2018, 978 0 241 14689 7
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... Several​ of the last century’s finest non-fiction writers – Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin – longed to be novelists. In interviews with the Paris Review, each touched on the tension and insecurity involved in their dual métier. Sontag wrote in surprisingly aspirational tones of ‘the novelist [I’d] finally given myself permission to be ...

Diary

Terry Castle: Moving House, 27 August 2009

... message on my Facebook Wall. Self-destructive thoughts when forced to admit they can’t. Like Susan Boyle, all one wants is to have one’s little life back. B., thank god, seems fine. Calls frequently from Cambridge on the Crackberry; thinks I’m making an insane fuss about moving five houses up the street. Full of kind spousal forbearance when I tell ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal, 10 May 2007

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... in the US when it wasn’t. His response was to talk and to write, just as relentlessly. Tennessee Williams, who first met Vidal in Rome in 1948, the year the CIA orchestrated the outcome of the Italian elections, said: ‘I wonder if any other living writer is going to keep at it as ferociously, unremittingly as Vidal. He has a mania for bringing out one book ...
... beliefs and desires in order to interpret their values, but it can be argued, as it has been by Susan Hurley, that we must, equally, ascribe some values to them even in the course of crediting them with desires or preferences, because it is only by reference to some sense of their values, of what they think worthwhile, that we can ascribe to them a rational ...

La Perestroika

Harold Perkin, 24 January 1991

The Second Socialist Revolution: An Alternative Soviet Strategy 
by Tatyana Zaslavskaya, translated by Susan Davies.
Tauris, 241 pp., £19.95, February 1990, 1 85043 151 5
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... This alternative Soviet strategy puts Zaslavskaya in the camp of Tawney, Tony Crosland and Shirley Williams and the kindlier tradition of democratic socialism: ‘The task of a socialist society is to retain the advantages of centralised economic planning, while at the same time finding ways of combining it with a greater stimulation of market ...

Not Enough Delilahs

Andrew O’Hagan: Lillian Ross, 4 July 2019

Picture 
by Lillian Ross.
NYRB, 219 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... To be fair, there were some men she liked. They tended to be showbusiness people. She liked Robin Williams, Charlie Chaplin, Tommy Lee Jones and Al Pacino. She also liked Salinger. (‘Jerry’ had been a friend since the 1950s and Lillian could sometimes sound like a female Holden Caulfield, railing against the phonies.) She got a fine awareness of ‘the ...

With A, then B, then C

Susan Eilenberg: The Sexual Life of Iris M., 5 September 2002

Iris Murdoch: A Life 
by Peter Conradi.
HarperCollins, 706 pp., £9.99, August 2002, 9780006531753
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... prizes in the League of Nations essay competition two years in a row, beating the young Raymond Williams the second time around. From BMB Murdoch learned, too, an admiration for the Soviet Union which the evidence of Stalin’s purges and show trials could not shake; her Soviet sympathies outlasted her pacifism by some years. It was only in retrospect that ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal, 3 February 2000

Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... of their East Hampton hammocks signing up biographies of high-profile authors such as Saul Bellow, Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer (three thus far, along with a memoir by one of his former wives, with other exes waiting in the wings to take their whacks). The irony is that publishers seem more eager to bring out books about golden-oldie authors than books by ...

Nasty Lucky Genes

Andrew O’Hagan: Fathers and Sons, 21 September 2006

The Arms of the Infinite 
by Christopher Barker.
Pomona, 329 pp., £9.99, August 2006, 1 904590 04 7
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... between two temperaments, two consciences and almost two epochs,’ Father and Son begins.) Susan Cheever says she once had another title for her memoir, Treetops; it was ‘Three Great Men and the Women They Destroyed’. Yet the first book she wrote about her father, Home before Dark, left her reeling at the variety of her discoveries. ‘I don’t ...

How do they see you?

Elizabeth Spelman: Martha Nussbaum, 16 November 2000

Sex and Social Justice 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Oxford, 476 pp., £25, July 1999, 0 19 511032 3
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Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach 
by Martha Nussbaum.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £17.95, May 2000, 0 521 66086 6
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... Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Marx, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Susan Moller Okin. Though some of the nudging she gives feminists – typically referred to in Sex and Social Justice as ‘them’ but in the more recent Women and Human Development as ‘my fellow feminists’ – is healthy, her presentation of feminism is ...

Like a Manta Ray

Jenny Turner: The Entire History of Sex, 22 October 2015

The Argonauts 
by Maggie Nelson.
Graywolf, 143 pp., £23, May 2015, 978 1 55597 707 8
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... more than mark that wildness’s grave. Being by trade a poet of plain language – William Carlos Williams would be another hero, also George Oppen, also Eileen Myles – Nelson finds her artistic focus drawn in two main directions. On the one hand, she crafts her words until she gets them to ‘facet’ as accurately as she can: ‘How to explain that for ...

Sight, Sound and Sex

Adam Mars-Jones: Dana Spiotta, 17 March 2016

Innocents and Others 
by Dana Spiotta.
Scribner, 278 pp., £17.95, March 2016, 978 1 5011 2272 9
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... so much ‘meaty pay dirt’ as the stuff of daytime television with odd touches of Tennessee Williams: He looks so sweaty and ugly, which, I mean we all do when we are desperate and looked at with no feeling, I know that. Desire makes us ugly unless the other person is lost to it too … It is like watching a movie. But it is me, I feel this ...

Five Girls on a Rock

Allan Gibbard: Derek Parfit, 7 June 2012

On What Matters 
by Derek Parfit.
Oxford, 540 pp. and 825 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 19 926592 3
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... morality can be grounded as Kant contended, but leaves open the question as to whether it can. Susan Wolf thinks that morality has no one supreme principle, but that Kant identifies moral considerations of prime importance – autonomy above all – that compete, at times tragically, with other moral considerations such as welfare. Allen Wood objects to ...

Donald Mitchell remembers Hans Keller

Donald Mitchell, 3 September 1987

... information. Two contributors in the Memorial Symposium touch interestingly on this aspect of FA: Susan Bradshaw, who remarks that Hans’s ‘greatest original invention’ may have been ‘his destined compositional outlet’, and Alexander Goehr, who claims that ‘behind the form of his Functional Analysis stood a being who really wanted to communicate ...

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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... But is the matter remedied by calling Ellis Cornelia Knight ‘Cornelius’? Or Helen Maria Williams ‘Helena’? Or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ‘Montague’? Or Cecilia ‘Cecelia’? Or Anne Ehrenpreis ‘Ehrenpries’? Or Patricia Köster ‘Koster’? Or Margarette Smith ‘Margaret’? Or Antonia Fraser ‘Frazer’? Above all, what credence can ...

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