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Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... I played at being someone I wanted to be until I became that person. Or he became me.’ In 1937, Frances Farmer, his co-star in The Toast of New York, found him ‘an aloof, remote person, intent on being Cary Grant playing Cary Grant’. By the time ‘Cary Grant’ was fully formed, the man had to give in to his creation: ‘Everybody wants to be Cary ...

The Life of the Mind

Michael Wood, 20 June 1996

Fargo 
directed by Joel Coen.
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Fargo 
by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen.
Faber, 118 pp., £7.99, May 1996, 0 571 17963 0
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... woman who heroically survives the onslaught of the miasmic detective in Blood Simple is played by Frances McDormand, who is also a leading character in Fargo – Marge Gunderson, the pregnant Brainerd police chief called in when the kidnapping turns to murder. She has a wonderfully understated acting style, dominated by a level stare, which in the earlier ...

Bristling with Diligence

James Wood: A.S. Byatt, 8 October 2009

The Children’s Book 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 617 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 7011 8389 9
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... will await the inevitable arrival of Wells and Shaw, the Cambridge Neo-Pagans, Rupert Brooke and Frances Cornford, the Cambridge Apostles and so on. (Byatt’s novels always seem destined to visit Cambridge University.) But the book’s emphasis on the plastic arts, on theatre design, the manipulation of puppets and marionettes, and above all on pottery, is ...

Cyberpunk’d

Niela Orr, 3 December 2020

Such a Fun Age 
by Kiley Reid.
Bloomsbury, 310 pp., £12.99, January, 978 1 5266 1214 4
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... in Black history: Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church; the Institute for Coloured Youth; the home of Frances E.W. Harper, one of the first Black American women to have her novels published. The official name of the place honours who you’d expect it to, but its real fascination lies in the Black ghosts remembered in the iron plaques that stud the streets, like ...

Lost in the Forest

Ian Hacking: Who needs the DSM?, 8 August 2013

DSM-5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition 
by the American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Publishing, 947 pp., £97, May 2013, 978 0 89042 555 8
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... attended to the trees (the kinds of disorder recognised in the manual), but few thought about the wood. I want to talk about the object as a whole – about the wood – and will seldom mention particular diagnoses, except when I need an example. Many worries have already been aired. In mid-May an onslaught was delivered by ...

A Form of Showing Off

Anna Vaux, 28 April 1994

A Change of Climate 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 352 pp., £15, March 1994, 0 670 83051 8
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... large house in Norfolk, a farmhouse that has lost its farm, with bicycle sheds and dog kennels and wood huts filled with the detritus of family life. It is the beginning of the Eighties, and Ralph’s world divides broadly into ‘Good Souls’ and ‘Sad Cases’, as in ‘Your Aunt Emma’s giving so-and-so a lift to her drugs clinic in Norwich – she’s a ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative, 8 August 2002

The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... many defended as natural, necessary and ordained by God. In 1854 a family is selling their slave Frances, aged 17, to a dealer in Richmond. Frances is trained as a chambermaid. She does not know that she is to be sold. I could not tell her; I own all her family, and the leave taking would be so distressing that I could ...

Ave, Jeeves!

Emily Wilson: Rom(an) Com, 21 February 2008

Plautine Elements in Plautus 
by Eduard Fraenkel, translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke.
Oxford, 459 pp., £79, November 2006, 0 19 924910 5
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Plautus: ‘Asinaria – The One about the Asses’ 
translated by John Henderson.
Wisconsin, 252 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 299 21994 1
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Terence: The Comedies 
translated by Peter Brown.
Oxford, 338 pp., £9.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 282399 1
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Terence: Comedies 
translated by Frederick Clayton.
Exeter, 290 pp., £45, January 2006, 0 85989 757 5
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... Germanic) English, as Plautine Elements in Plautus. The translators, Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke, have included translations of all quotations from Latin and Greek, as well as an index rerum, an index locorum, and an up-to-date bibliography of Plautine studies. At the time Fraenkel was writing, the study of Greek New Comedy had recently been ...

Exasperating Classics

Patricia Craig, 23 May 1985

Secret Gardens 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 235 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 04 809022 0
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Reading and Righting 
by Robert Leeson.
Collins, 256 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780001844131
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Pipers at the Gates of Dawn 
by Jonathan Cott.
Viking, 327 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80003 1
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... of C.S. Lewis’s distasteful Narnia series, in which a wardrobe gives onto an extraterrestrial wood. The central characters in Lewis’s religious fantasies are a lot of dead children – a motif we might have expected to find discarded by the 1950s. Kingsley, writing in 1862, had used it to better effect. Macdonald himself, in Lilith, invented a country ...

‘Faustus’ and the Politics of Magic

Charles Nicholl, 8 March 1990

Dr Faustus 
by Christopher Marlowe, edited by Roma Gill.
Black, 109 pp., £3.95, December 1989, 0 7136 3231 3
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Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare 
by John Mebane.
Nebraska, 309 pp., £26.95, July 1989, 0 8032 3133 4
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Robert Fludd and the End of the Renaissance 
by William Huffman.
Routledge, 252 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 415 00129 3
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Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England 
by Patrick Curry.
Polity, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 7456 0604 0
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... interest in the psychodynamics of magic, and partly to the historical researches of scholars like Frances Yates, D.P. Walker and Peter French. In Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age, John Mebane offers an inclusive, deeply researched overview of the subject. He examines the many component parts of Renaissance occultism. It was, in the spirit of ...

Wild Bill

Stephen Greenblatt, 20 October 1994

Essays on Renaissance Literature. Vol. II 
by William Empson, edited by John Haffenden.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £35, May 1994, 0 521 44044 0
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... in 1980 and included in the present volume. This essay was at least nominally a review of one of Frances Yates’s studies of the occult, but it served as the occasion for Empson to air a scholarly interest, one might even say obsession, that continued to occupy him until his death in 1984. Empson argued that there was in the 16th century a belief, far more ...

Sublimely Bad

Terry Castle, 23 February 1995

Secresy; or, The Ruin on the Rock 
by Eliza Fenwick, edited by Isobel Grundy.
Broadview, 359 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 1 55111 014 8
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... other heroine of the novel, Caroline Ashburn, first comes across Sibella, she is perched like a ‘Wood Nymph’ on a tree stump, with Nina curled in her lap ‘in an attitude of confidence and affection’. Yet the tiny, sure-footed Nina is as helpful as she is devoted. When the plot veers into melodrama – which is almost right away – the plucky little ...

Toshie Trashed

Gavin Stamp: The Glasgow School of Art Fire, 19 June 2014

... was an artist as well as an architect. With his future wife, Margaret Macdonald, her sister Frances and her future husband, Herbert McNair, he was one of ‘The Four’, responsible for paintings of attenuated female figures with intense faces, and stylised curvilinear decorative swirls. To their critics, their work was the ‘Spook School’. It was ...

What Marlowe would have wanted

Charles Nicholl, 26 November 1987

Faustus and the Censor 
by William Empson, edited by John Henry Jones.
Blackwell, 226 pp., £17.50, September 1987, 0 631 15675 5
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... references – and others would have gone up in the fires that commonly broke out in the crowded wood-built cities. The losses are heaviest among the first wave of playmakers working in London in the late 1580s and early 1590s, the so-called ‘pre-Shakespearean’ period. Not a single play by the sonneteer Thomas Watson remains, though he was described in ...

The Suitcase

Frances Stonor Saunders, 30 July 2020

... shaving soap in a wooden bowl, the City office with highly polished desk and leather blotters and wood panelling and the secretary in an anteroom who patched us through on the telephone, the beautifully trimmed Rover Coupé with crackled leather seats, the subscription to the Spectator, the pot of Gentleman’s Relish in the fridge.What you think you ...

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