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How to Perfume a Glove

Adam Smyth: Early Modern Cookbooks

5 January 2017
Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen 
by Wendy Wall.
Pennsylvania, 328 pp., £53, November 2015, 978 0 8122 4758 9
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... with the Spanish ambassador, Count Gondomar) include a pulverised onion-and-yeast bandage, the merits of which derive from the balance of heating and cooling ingredients. ‘Food work’, as WendyWall calls it, was a subset of the care of the body, and this intertwining is everywhere in the recipe culture Wall describes. Thus the manuscript recipe book of Mary Birkhead from about 1680 now in the ...

Limits of Civility

Glen Newey: Walls

17 March 2011
Walled States, Waning Sovereignty 
by Wendy​ Brown.
Zone, 167 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 1 935408 08 6
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... in a cowshed ends with the King of the Jews shut out from the would-be capital of his people, an apt incongruity for one whose kingdom was not of this world. In Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, Wendy Brown notes that walls symbolise the will to closure. As inherited tracts of masonry, they recall bygone enmities, but also mark the limits of civility. Yet the revealed will to close down politics ...


Wendy​ Steiner: In London

24 May 1990
... wistfully at children in the street. It is time for mine to come home. Meat in hand, I open the front door. Plaster dust and dead letters are strewn over the hall carpet. Through a huge hole in the wall I can see into my flat. A break-in. Again. Four months ago a robber stole all my jewellery by slipping the lock. Now the locks have held and someone has broken through the wall. What did they steal ...


Nicholas Spice

15 March 1984
The Fetishist, and Other Stories 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 00 221440 7
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My Aunt Christina, and Other Stories 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 575 03256 1
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Mr Bedford and the Muses 
by Gail Godwin.
Heinemann, 229 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 434 29751 8
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Alexandra Freed 
by Lisa Zeidner.
Cape, 288 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 224 02158 3
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The Coffin Tree 
by Wendy​ Law-Yone.
Cape, 195 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 224 02963 0
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... discovered and merely mediated is partly due to the way Tournier incorporates into them experiences familiar to us all, experiences we recognise and can identify with: watching a cat jump onto a wall (‘she ran at it as if it were flat on the ground’), eating breakfast early on a spring morning in the dark (‘he gazed at the black rectangle of the window in front of him’), padding around ...

At New Hall

Eleanor Birne: Modern Women’s Art

28 June 2017
... lamps hang from the ceiling. It feels more like a little piece of Pasadena than a site off the Huntingdon Road. In the Fellows’ Drawing Room, a Bridget Riley, Shadow Play, hangs casually on the wall behind the grand piano. It’s all unbelievably chic. It takes a lot of work, and money, to keep the place looking this good. I visited on a day when the academics and the admin, kitchen and ...

His Greatest Pretend

Dinah Birch: The man behind Pan

1 September 2005
Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie 
by Lisa Chaney.
Hutchinson, 402 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 09 179539 7
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... was someone he needed to convince. The character of the controlling mother is for Barrie as powerful as that of the unruly boy. He was slow to accept that girls could be children: they were, like Wendy, really mothers in waiting. An anxious idealisation of his own forceful mother shaped his personality from the first. The story of his life seems almost too transparent in the clues it offers to his ...

Four in a Bed

Wendy​ Doniger

8 February 1996
Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life 
by Marjorie Garber.
Hamish Hamilton, 608 pp., £25, January 1996, 9780241134481
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... what the rival desires, we also sometimes desire the rival because of his or her desire.’ Again, the trio slides imperceptibly into a quartet in Garber’s musings: ‘Like the missing “fourth wall” in proscenium theatre, where the illusion is of an audience looking in on a reality that doesn’t look back, this third leg or side of the triangle is more active and more determinative than it ...

Who needs a welfare state?

Deborah Friedell: The Little House Books

22 November 2012
The Little House Books 
by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Library of America, 1490 pp., £56.50, August 2012, 978 1 59853 162 6
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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 
by Wendy​ McClure.
Riverhead, 336 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 59448 568 8
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... stamps or other nutrition benefits’. The books are a fantasy of self-sufficiency in its most charming form. In The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’, Wendy McClure, a children’s book editor, details her obsession with what she calls ‘Laura World’. She visits the Big Woods in Wisconsin where Wilder was born; the places where Wilder’s parents ...

Devolution Doom

Christopher Harvie: Scotland’s crisis, and some solutions

5 September 2002
... tend to be sick and old. It costs a lot to die. Is a touch of the Private Frasers – ‘We’re all doomed, ah tell ye, doomed!’ – in order? The Enterprise/Transport/Lifelong-Learning minister Wendy Alexander fled in May, perhaps because McConnell crushed her under all those portfolios, but also, surely, because of the mismatch between her huge responsibilities and her limited powers. Holyrood ...

He wants me no more

Tessa Hadley: Pamela Hansford Johnson

21 January 2016
Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times 
by Wendy​ Pollard.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 500 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 0 85683 298 7
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... anything so subtle. It’s the second best kind of biography, the innocent kind, which doesn’t think with much penetration about its subject but doesn’t interfere with it either, no flashy stuff. Wendy Pollard’s record of Johnson’s life is scrupulous; she sticks to the diaries and the letters and the work, and her admiration for her subject and enthusiasm for Johnson’s writing is unflagging ...

Lacan’s Ghost

Wendy​ Doniger: The mirror

3 January 2002
The Mirror: A History 
by Sabine Melchior-Bonnet, translated by Katharine Jewett.
Routledge, 308 pp., £16.99, January 2001, 0 415 92447 2
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... the wicked stepmother is punished for her vanity by being locked up in a room of mirrors. Indeed, even Disney’s Snow White preserves the most famous catoptromancy of all (‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of us all?’), and Harry Potter encounters the mirror in which ‘anyone . . . might see what . . . he desires.’ Melchior-Bonnet records the belief that souls are often caught ...
28 September 1989
Waverley Place 
by Susan Brownmiller.
Hamish Hamilton, 294 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12804 8
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... Judith is an incompetent substitute teacher, an incompetent writer, an incompetent judge of behaviour. After an early beating by Joel she muses: ‘He didn’t mean to bang my head against the wall ... This is a man who cares so deeply, who feels so much pain.’ Though there is little to applaud in Judith, the novel engages in surprisingly little overt criticism of her. Brownmiller excludes ...
17 December 1992
The American way of Birth 
by Jessica Mitford.
Gollancz, 237 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 575 05430 1
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... organs and stages and actions that had to be thought about – one kind of breathing for early first stage, another for transition, huge gulps of air for the second stage. I focused on a spot on the wall and panted. After all, that is what I was supposed to do and I was going to do it right. I was not going to be the irrational ‘cow’ that all the books said chauvinistic males thought labouring ...

How to Escape the Curse

Wendy​ Doniger: The Mahabharata

8 October 2009
The Mahabharata 
translated by John Smith.
Penguin, 834 pp., £16.99, May 2009, 978 0 14 044681 4
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... by Chakravarthi Narasimhan (who was under-secretary of the United Nations), which you can read from cover to cover without encountering any event that could not be reported, mutatis mutandis, in the Wall Street Journal. The historians of religion, on the other hand, generally zero in on the Bhagavad Gita (which many Hindus lift out of context and use as a self-contained sacred text); some also ...

Should we build a wall​ around North Wales?

Daniel Trilling: The Refugee Crisis

12 July 2017
Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move 
by Reece Jones.
Verso, 208 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78478 471 3
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Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System 
by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 0 241 28923 5
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No Borders: The Politics of Immigration Control and Resistance 
by Natasha King.
Zed, 208 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 1 78360 467 8
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... of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa try to reach Europe each year, but that is nothing compared to the scale of migration between countries within Africa. Jones gives short shrift to scholars such as Wendy Brown, who argued in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010) that today’s border walls are a sign not of strength but that state sovereignty is being eroded by globalisation: they fulfil a ...

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