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Banjaxed

Eleanor Birne: Jane Harris, 6 April 2006

The Observations 
by Jane Harris.
Faber, 415 pp., £12.99, April 2006, 0 571 22335 4
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... banished the fear of ghosts? What is the trick that makes the reading chill? How is it engineered? Jane Harris’s first novel, The Observations, which is set in 1863, has all the necessary ingredients for a Rebecca-like absorption. There’s a bright young Irish maid for a heroine, with a mysterious past that is only gradually revealed; a beautiful ...

Jane Austen’s Children

Brigid Brophy, 6 December 1979

Jane Austen’s Letters 
edited by R.W. Chapman.
Oxford, 519 pp., £15
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... In one respect at least we must be glad Jane Austen refused the proposal of marriage made her in 1802. Literature would be a little less seemly had she obliged us to think of our greatest (indeed, I more and more suspect, the greatest) novelist as Jane Bigg-Wither. Her invention was more euphonious ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... Moderns, her provocative critical survey of English cultural life between 1930 and 1945, Alexandra Harris points to Eliot’s lines in ‘East Coker’ about ‘Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth/Mirth of those long since under earth/Nourishing the corn.’ Harris argues that the poet was thinking about the dead ...

Sour Apple

José Harris, 5 July 1984

H.G. Wells: Aspects of a Life 
by Anthony West.
Hutchinson, 405 pp., £12.95, June 1984, 0 09 134540 5
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Heritage 
by Anthony West.
Secker, 305 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 56592 7
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... intention of abandoning the comfort, good humour and sheer domestic efficiency provided by Jane Wells. Rebecca, however, was convinced that she could persuade him to seek a divorce and marry her. She persisted in this belief for fifteen years, with a great deal of trauma and misery as a consequence. Furthermore, although he had made generous provision ...

Chevril

J.D.F. Jones: Novels on South Africa, 11 November 1999

Ladysmith 
by Giles Foden.
Faber, 366 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 571 19733 7
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Manly Pursuits 
by Ann Harries.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £15.99, March 1999, 0 7475 4293 7
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... Gonne; I assume Kiernan is the novelist’s creation). Kiernan has two feisty daughters, Bella and Jane, who supply the romantic subplots very efficiently. Bella will ingeniously escape the siege with her Portuguese hairdresser by observation balloon. The Biographer’s trooper boyfriend will have his head shot off, and his brother, also a trooper, will finish ...

Quod erat Hepburn

John Bayley, 3 April 1986

Katharine Hepburn: A Biography 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 395 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 340 33719 2
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... Garrison Keillor. Perhaps they got it from Shakespeare’s sonnet. At any rate, when the play of Jane Eyre opened in New Haven on 26 December 1936, in a stage version by Helen Jerome, the critics wondered ‘if it is not easier to see Katharine Hepburn in Jane Eyre than Jane Eyre in ...

A Piece of Single Blessedness

John Burrows, 21 January 1988

Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... The publication of three substantial biographies of Jane Austen within a decade smacks of excess. But, compared with Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Jane Austen (1979) and John Halperin’s The Life of Jane Austen (1984), the work under review is in so many ways the best that it deserves to make its mark ...

Who now cares about Malinowski?

Robert Ackerman, 23 May 1996

After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... I had written a dissertation on the literary-critical legacy of the ‘Cambridge Ritualists’ (Jane Ellen Harrison, F.M. Cornford, Gilbert Murray and A.B. Cook, turn-of-the-century classicists who had written on the connection between Greek myth and ritual and the origins of drama), and had then read a good deal of Frazer, who influenced the Ritualists ...
Martha Jane and Me: A Girlhood in Wales 
by Mavis Nicholson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 7011 3356 2
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Vanessa Redgrave: An Autobiography 
Hutchinson, 300 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 09 174593 4Show More
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... us from the tiny, crowded house without a bathroom, where she shared a bed with her gran, Martha Jane, until the first day she ventures further than a cycle ride from home, her rail ticket in her glove, her worst fears about her future at college in Swansea assuaged by her mother’s promise to keep up the postal supply of STs and avoid her having to visit a ...

Nutmegged

Frank Kermode: The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis., 10 May 2001

The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 506 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 224 05059 1
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... and Aristophanes can procure a pardon for that sort of thing. Other reviewers may commend Thomas Harris for committing ‘not a single ugly or dead sentence’ but Amis finds enough of them to label Harris ‘a serial murderer of English sentences’ and Hannibal ‘a necropolis of prose’. He finds the opposite response ...

How They Brought the Good News

Colin Kidd: Britain’s Napoleonic Wars, 20 November 2014

In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 739 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 571 26952 5
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... Suffolk and Essex; soldiers, sailors, gunsmiths and clergymen; Quakers, aristocrats and radicals. Jane Austen, for instance, enjoys no more prominence than her brothers Francis and Charles, both officers in the navy. While Uglow devotes considerable attention to campaigns on sea and land, her primary concern is the rhythm of life on the home front during ...

Dreadful Apprehensions

Clare Bucknell: Collier and Fielding, 25 October 2018

The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable 
by Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier, edited by Carolyn Woodward.
Kentucky, 406 pp., £86.50, November 2017, 978 0 8131 7410 5
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... Until​ the mid-20th century Jane Collier was known only for a clever satire on how best to irritate people, An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting (1753). After her death in 1755 it was considered a shame that she hadn’t tried writing something less rebarbative. Her younger brother Arthur ‘often lamented’, the 1804 editor of the Essay recalled, ‘that a sister possessing such amiable manners, and such abilities, should only be known to the literary world by a satirical work ...

Australian Circles

Jonathan Coe, 12 September 1991

The Tax Inspector 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 279 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 16297 5
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The Second Bridegroom 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 214 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 9780571164820
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... downright sinister, appears to have its closest affinities with recent cinematic exports such as Jane Campion’s Sweetie and John Ruane’s Death in Brunswick. (Particularly the latter, since in this novel Carey has made a brave and largely successful attempt to reflect the diversity of Australia’s immigrant culture, with all its attendant conflicts and ...

Fielding in the dock

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1990

Henry Fielding: A Life 
by Martin Battestin and Ruthe Battestin.
Routledge, 738 pp., £29.50, October 1989, 0 415 01438 7
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New Essays 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin.
Virginia, 604 pp., $50, November 1989, 0 8139 1221 0
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The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. The True Patriot, and Related Writings 
edited by W.B. Coley.
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An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and Related Writings 
edited by Malvin Zirker.
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The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register Office 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Bertrand Goldgar.
Oxford, 446 pp., £50, December 1988, 0 19 818511 1
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Fielding and the Woman Question: The Novels of Henry Fielding and the Feminist Debate 1700-1750 
by Angela Smallwood.
Harvester, 230 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 7108 0639 6
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... study.) Two important correspondences in particular have recently come to light: one with James Harris of Salisbury, the author of Hermes, whom Johnson called ‘a prig, and a bad prig’, but who was a warm friend to Fielding, lent him money sometimes, and wrote an unpublished essay on his ‘Life and Genius’; the other concerned with Fielding’s legal ...

Spruce

John Bayley, 2 June 1988

A.E. Housman: Collected Poems and Selected Prose 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £18.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9009 0
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... the same Biblical punning is more heavy-handed, as in the jingle about ‘Lieutenant-Colonel Mary Jane’ of the Salvation Army, who ‘tumbled off the platform in the station/And was cut in little pieces by the train’. Mary Jane, the train is through yer:         Hallelujah. Hallelujah! We will gather up the ...

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