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Narcissism and its Discontents

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 February 1980

Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Jean Rhys.
Deutsch, 173 pp., £4.95, November 1980, 0 233 97213 7
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Jean RhysA Critical Study 
by Thomas Staley.
Macmillan, 140 pp., £10, November 1980, 0 333 24522 9
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My Blue Notebooks 
by Liane de Pougy, translated by Diana Athill.
Deutsch, 288 pp., £7.50, October 1980, 0 233 97141 6
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The Maimie Papers 
edited by Ruth Rosen and Sue Davidson.
Virago, 450 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 86068 114 9
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Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Hugo Vickers.
Weidenfeld, 299 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 297 77652 5
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... me I can see that he doesn’t think I am pretty. Oh God, let me be pretty when I grow up. Jean Rhys was 12 at the time of the wedding in Castries, on the island of St Lucia. At the age of six a photograph had been taken of her: she looked very pretty then in a new white dress. Three years later, she realised ‘with dismay that I wasn’t ...

Hagiography

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 3 March 1983

Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three 
by David Plante.
Gollancz, 173 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 575 03189 1
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... One evening in December 1975 David Plante called on his friend, the novelist Jean Rhys, who was staying in a hotel in South Kensington: ‘a big dreary hotel’, she said, ‘filled with old people whom they won’t allow to drink sweet vermouth’. She was sitting in what the receptionist called ‘the pink lounge’, wearing a pink hat ...

All I can do

Carole Angier, 21 June 1984

Jean RhysLetters 1931-1966 
edited by Francis Wyndham and Diana Melly.
Deutsch, 336 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 223 97567 2
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... Jean Rhys always said, and certainly believed, that she didn’t want to be a writer. She only wrote, she said, because she was unhappy, and when she was happy, as she was in her twenty years of marriage to her third husband, she didn’t write at all. Now comes this extraordinary book to prove that this simply wasn’t true ...

One Thing

John Bayley, 22 November 1990

Jean Rhys 
by Carole Angier.
Deutsch, 780 pp., £15.99, November 1990, 0 233 98597 2
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A Lot to Ask: A Life of Barbara Pym 
by Hazel Holt.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 333 40614 1
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... things, ‘and the people to whom they happen.’ A reason for keeping away from Jean Rhys, but in any case they would hardly have appealed to each other. When she was young she liked adventurers, and married one, but later in her long life she preferred gentle and gentlemanly types who wanted to cherish her, though they seldom or ...

Grandiose Moments

Frank Kermode, 6 February 1997

Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol. II 
by Max Saunders.
Oxford, 696 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 19 212608 3
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... of being able to consult many surviving friends of Ford, including Allen Tate, Herbert Read, Jean Rhys and Rebecca West. He also had access to the papers of Ford’s mistress Violet Hunt and the Ford collections in various American libraries, notably those of Cornell and Princeton. Judd and Saunders were denied by death of useful contemporary ...

Dependencies

Elizabeth Young, 25 February 1993

The Case of Anna Kavan 
by David Callard.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, January 1993, 0 7206 0867 8
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... He was presumably referring to her heroin addiction. Friends and mentors over the years – Rhys Davies. Peter Owen, Brian Aldiss – have made considerable efforts to dispel such feelings of uncase by stressing how smart and cheerful she, was how little her drug addiction appeared to affect her. Such loyal friends did not wish her to be regarded as a ...

Hagiophagy

Elaine Showalter, 2 October 1997

Impossible Saints 
by Michèle Roberts.
Little, Brown, 308 pp., £14.99, May 1997, 0 316 63957 5
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... to produce a collection of stories ‘rivalling those of Colette and Katherine Mansfield and Jean Rhys all put together’. Angèle passes on advice from her brother Jim, a painter: ‘You have to make the problem part of the subject. So, obviously what you should do is write a story about writer’s block.’ In the cottage at Cahors, however, the ...
... and we became great friends. The other thing that bore fruit during my time at Deutsch was the Jean Rhys saga. I’d always thought her books were wonderful. I showed them to Diana, who agreed, but said we couldn’t republish them, and then we discovered that she was still alive. I read her immediately after the war, and I remember Anthony Powell ...

Problems

Peter Campbell, 1 October 1981

Early Disorder 
by Rebecca Josephs.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 186 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 571 12031 8
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A Star for the Latecomer 
by Bonnie Zindel.
Bodley Head, 186 pp., £3.95, March 1981, 0 370 30319 9
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Catherine loves 
by Timothy Ireland.
Bodley Head, 117 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 370 30292 3
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Jacob have I loved 
by Katherine Paterson.
Gollancz, 216 pp., £4.95, April 1981, 0 575 02961 7
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... in Willa’s bookshelf was not, however, an unnatural one: children switch from Ballet Shoes to Jean Rhys and then back to Ballet Shoes, as though they need, or relish, the contrast between bleak and comfortable moral universes. When adults turn to the children’s books of Richard Adams or K.M. Peyton it is because they, too, have an appetite for ...

On Sophie Collins

Stephanie Burt: Sophie Collins, 18 July 2019

... or found herself, in essays by Nuar Alsadir, Carolee Schneemann and Denise Riley, in a novel by Jean Rhys and a poem by Selima Hill. ‘I began to … believe,’ she wrote, ‘that [Hill’s poem] was speaking to me personally.’ Collins’s ‘earnest desire to consider’ these works ‘on their own terms’ sat uneasily beside her ‘fascination ...

Lament for the members of a class of masters

Gabriele Annan, 6 December 1990

The Snows of Yesteryear: Portraits for an Autobiography 
by Gregor von Rezzori, translated by H.F. Broch de Rothermann.
Chatto, 290 pp., £16.99, November 1990, 0 7011 3666 9
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... about how things aren’t what they used to be under the ancien régime. Like a Central European Jean Rhys, he never stops re-inventing himself and recycling his exceptionally picturesque and picaresque past. In his best-known work, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, the central figure admits as much to the second of his three wives: ‘I invent myself in my ...

In Praise of Pritchett

Martin Amis, 22 May 1980

On the Edge of the Cliff 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 179 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 7011 2438 5
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The Tale Bearers: Essays on English, American and Other Writers 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 223 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 7011 2435 0
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... his reading as soon as he starts to write. His fiction has the same freakish certitude as that of Jean Rhys, Flannery O’Connor and Christina Stead. Pritchett’s curious inwardness when writing about women has often been noticed: ‘No,’ he said and told her what he had told her a dozen times before. She liked her flat to have someone else’s voice ...

Games-Playing

Patrick Parrinder, 7 August 1986

The Golden Gate 
by Vikram Seth.
Faber, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13967 1
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The Haunted House 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 139 pp., £8.95, June 1986, 0 330 29175 0
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Whole of a Morning Sky 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 156 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 86068 774 0
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The Piano Tuner 
by Peter Meinke.
Georgia, 156 pp., $13.95, June 1986, 0 8203 0844 7
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Tap City 
by Ron Abell.
Secker, 273 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 436 00025 3
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... beyond what is said. The Haunted House is a very talented first novel, as vertiginous as Jean Rhys, drawing us into the imagery of the heroine’s private nightmares. It is a poetic evocation of smashed lives, rubble, debris, unopened parachutes and emptied and discarded duty-free bottles. Grace Nichols’s Whole of a Morning Sky is a ...

Separate Development

Patricia Craig, 10 December 1987

The Female Form 
by Rosalind Miles.
Routledge, 227 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 7102 1008 6
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Feminism and Poetry 
by Jan Montefiore.
Pandora, 210 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 86358 162 5
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Nostalgia and Sexual Difference 
by Janice Doane and Devon Hodges.
Methuen, 169 pp., £20, June 1987, 9780416015317
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Reading Woman 
by Mary Jacobus.
Methuen, 316 pp., £8.95, November 1987, 0 416 92460 3
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The New Feminist Criticism 
edited by Elaine Showalter.
Virago, 403 pp., £11.95, March 1986, 0 86068 722 8
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Reviewing the Reviews 
Journeyman, 104 pp., £4.50, June 1987, 1 85172 007 3Show More
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... we have Ivy Compton Burnett, for example, ‘with her attacks upon male institutions’; and Jean Rhys displaying a lacerating insight into the bad behaviour of men towards women. In the end, however, Rosalind Miles comes down on the side of the separatists, referring with approval to the concept of ‘a female culture acting as an intellectual ...

Pen Men

Elaine Showalter, 20 March 1986

Men and Feminism in Modern Literature 
by Declan Kiberd.
Macmillan, 250 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 333 38353 2
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Women Writing about Men 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 256 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 86068 473 3
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Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and 20th-century Literature 
by Peter Schwenger.
Routledge, 172 pp., £29.50, September 1985, 0 7102 0164 8
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... in the works of such writers as Richardson, Rebecca West, Alexandra Kollontai, Christina Stead, Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Miller’s deliberately unsystematic readings have an impressive cumulative power. By the end of the book, as she discusses the work of black and working-class writers, women who have been so excluded ...

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