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Claudia Johnson: The history of the novel, 8 March 2001

The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot 
by Leah Price.
Cambridge, 224 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 78208 2
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... by long novels, to skimming them, or to skipping to passages which seem more interesting. Samuel Johnson’s admission that there were few books he felt compelled to read all the way through might license us to think of the length of Richardson’s novels as an inducement to skim or skip. Readers of Richardson – to say nothing of Radcliffe, Scott or Eliot ...

A Sad and Gory Land

Claudia Johnson, 23 February 1995

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 148 pp., £14.99, November 1994, 0 571 17310 1
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... American culture has a special attachment to boys’ coming-of-age stories, and from Tom Sawyer to Summer of ’42 readily invests them with mythic import. But girls’ coming-of-age stories, as distinct from tales about courtship and marriage, find no indulgent public. How could they? Crediting stories about the pain and exhilaration of girls’ fellowship, sexual discovery or disenchantment comes close to endorsing the agenda of consciousness-raising, and that, we know, is not likely to happen ...

Pwaise the wabbit

Claudia Johnson, 1 August 1996

Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings 
by Hugh Kenner.
California, 114 pp., £12, September 1994, 0 520 08797 6
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... Hugh Kenner’s lively Chuck Jones: A Flurry of Drawings belongs to the ‘Portraits of American Genius’ series launched two years ago by the University of California Press with the intention of celebrating American creativity. Books about Toni Morrison and Miles Davis will strike no one as unusual, although the volumes on Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and Mabel McKay, a native American medicine woman, were less conventional ...

Pleased to Be Loony

Alice Spawls: The Janeites, 8 November 2012

Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures 
by Claudia Johnson.
Chicago, 224 pp., £22.50, June 2012, 978 0 226 40203 1
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... Claudia Johnson begins with a ghost story. One summer morning, as she sat by the leaded gothic windows of her Princeton study editing the Norton Critical Edition of Mansfield Park, she was stumped about where a comma ought to go. In the second sentence of the eighth chapter there is a discrepancy between the first and second edition of the novel: did Mr Rushworth’s mother come ‘to be civil, and to shew her civility, especially in urging the execution of the plan to visit Sotherton’ or, as the later version has it, to ‘shew her civility especially, in urging the execution of the plan’? Both editions were published in Austen’s lifetime, and she was involved with the re-editing of the second ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Eccentric Pilgrims, 30 June 2016

... rump? It must be charity. Look at the cameras. There aren’t enough of them to bring out Boris Johnson, who never failed, in all the years of his mayoralty, to insert himself on the television ‘news where you are’ for London: in hardhat, bicycle helmet, scrumcap squashed down on the finger-flicked golden mopflop of thuggish charm. A vortex of ...

Policing the Police

Fredrick Harris: The Black Panthers, 20 June 2013

Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party 
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin.
California, 539 pp., £24.95, January 2013, 978 0 520 27185 2
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... retrospect, an extraordinary thing in itself. Like W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Charlotta Bass, Claudia Jones and William Patterson in the 1940s and 1950s, the Black Panther Party connected the oppression of black America to people of colour around the globe, linking the internal struggle against racism in the US to anti-imperial struggles in Africa, Asia ...

Sex on the Roof

Patricia Lockwood, 6 December 2018

Evening in Paradise: More Stories 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8229 8
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Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs 
by Lucia Berlin.
Picador, 160 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 5098 8234 2
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... she could have written a list of the names she used for herself: Dolores, Maggie, Carlotta, Claudia, Maria, Maya. (How do writers find the names that are most like their own names? Are they harmonies, alibis, drag, indictments?) In the past critics would have used words like ‘womanly’, ‘gracious’, ‘a lady’ – ‘a real lady’, they would ...

In the Egosphere

Adam Mars-Jones: The Plot against Roth, 23 January 2014

Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books 
by Claudia Roth Pierpont.
Cape, 353 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 0 224 09903 5
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... Claudia Roth Pierpont met Philip Roth at a birthday party in 2002. She was a fan, but managed not to alienate him with clumsy enthusiasm. A couple of years later he sent her a photocopy of a newspaper article he thought she might be interested in. They met for coffee and became more relaxed with each other. Later he recruited her as a member of the small rotating committee of friends, an editorial micro-minyan, to whom he sent drafts of his books ...

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