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It wasn’t him, it was her

Jenny Diski: Nietzsche’s Bad Sister, 25 September 2003

Nietzsche’s Sister and the Will to Power: A Biography of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche 
by Carol Diethe.
Illinois, 214 pp., £26, July 2003, 0 252 02826 0
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... gained considerable power, she was about as useful to other women as that other great Nietzschean, Margaret Thatcher. Elisabeth claimed that the sewing machine was responsible for feminism: it made women’s real job of domestic sewing take too little time and so left their minds too free for foolish ideas. Women who spoke of freedom were inclined to smoke ...

Good Things: Pederasty and Jazz and Opium and Research

Lawrence Rainey: Mary Butts, 16 July 1998

Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life 
by Nathalie Blondel.
McPherson, 539 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 929701 55 0
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The Taverner Novels: ‘Armed with Madness’, ‘Death of Felicity Taverner’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 18 6
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The Classical Novels: ‘The Macedonian’, ‘Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 384 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 42 9
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‘Ashe of Rings’ and Other Writings 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £18.50, March 1998, 0 929701 53 4
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... classical scholar invoked by Virginia Woolf at the beginning of A Room of One’s Own. Butts, like Forster and Woolf, was deeply interested in Harrison’s writings, especially her Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (1903) and Themis (1912). Harrison boldly advanced the view that the pre-Homeric religion of Greece had not been one of Olympian serenity ...

Another A.N. Wilson

Michael Irwin, 3 December 1981

Who was Oswald Fish? 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 314 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 436 57606 6
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... the genre concerned has attracted other distinguished practitioners and goes back a long way. Forster, especially in the earlier novels, and Hardy, notably in The Well-Beloved and A Pair of Blue Eyes, worked in this mode. Its virtue is to free the author from two of the great constraints of realism. A novel true to the diurnal realities of ordinary life ...


Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... includes James Hogg’s The Shepherd’s Calendar, John Galt’s ‘theoretical histories’ and Margaret Oliphant’s tales of terror. It’s common to think of Blackwood’s as a stolid redoubt of middlebrow English respectability, the kind of torpid organ invoked by Orwell in ‘England Your England’: ‘If you were a patriot you read Blackwood’s ...


John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... lifetime, that she could not ‘make things up’, and of course it irritated her. She hated what Forster called the novelist’s ‘faking’ and the death of Rachel in The Voyage Out can be seen as a protest against the way death is managed in fiction. Of the death of Milly Theale in The Wings of the Dove she wrote in her Diary that ‘There is a great ...

Costume Codes

David Trotter, 12 January 1995

Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel 
by Jane Eldridge Miller.
Virago, 241 pp., £15.99, October 1994, 1 85381 830 5
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... Miller scrupulously records the tremors of strange unrest in novels by the well known (Bennett, Forster, Galsworthy) and the less well known (Ada Leverson, M.P. Willcocks). She points out that, while these novels exposed and tested particular marriages, they did not question the institution itself. In her view, three writers only – Amber Reeves, Olivia ...

Walking like Swinburne

P.N. Furbank, 12 July 1990

Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... Philip Hoare relates one, as told by the Hon. David Herbert, about his treatment of the actress Margaret Rutherford. He cultivated her assiduously – even, more or less, proposing marriage to her – and she fell for his charms, and then when one day she came to his house for the weekend, he quite shattered her by simply refusing to allow her in. The ...

Jane Austen’s Word Process

Marilyn Butler, 25 June 1987

Computation into Criticism: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels and an Experiment in Method 
by J.F Burrows.
Oxford, 245 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 812856 8
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... as controls a small group of novels by others. They are Henry James’s The Awkward Age, E.M. Forster’s Howards End and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, together with two modern attempts to imitate Austen’s Regency English, Georgette Heyer’s Frederica and the continuation of ‘Sanditon’ by Another Lady. He conducts some tests comparing the idiolects ...


John Bayley: On V.S. Pritchett, the Man of Letters, 30 January 1992

... are, and they have come to dread the direct untreated response by their students, pronouncing E.M. Forster soppy, or Virginia Woolf a bit of a bitch. High-tech negates such responses, rescuing itself from social and worldly critical converse – the medium in which the novel naturally swims. To discuss in the old fashion the characters of War and Peace or Anna ...

Were I a cloud

Patricia Beer, 28 January 1993

Robert Bridges: A Biography 
by Catherine Phillips.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 212251 7
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... His son Edward fought in the thick of the First World War and was badly wounded. His daughter Margaret died agonisingly of tubercular meningitis. His house burnt down. His wife Monica, a woman of spirit and intelligence, was physically delicate and the constant prey of such serious illnesses that Bridges often stayed at her bedside for weeks at a ...

Dissecting the Body

Colm Tóibín: Ian McEwan, 26 April 2007

On Chesil Beach 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 166 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 08118 4
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... they can hear his voice on the radio in the hotel bar below. He is present in this novel much as Margaret Thatcher is in The Ploughman’s Lunch – to root the story in the real. McEwan uses current affairs much as a rock band uses drums or a salesman uses a smile. The fact that Macmillan is still in power also helps us to be convinced by Florence’s ...

Fashionable Gore

Katherine Rundell: H. Rider Haggard, 3 April 2014

King Solomon’s Mines 
by H. Rider Haggard.
Vintage, 337 pp., £7.99, May 2013, 978 0 09 958282 3
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by H. Rider Haggard.
Vintage, 317 pp., £8.99, May 2013, 978 0 09 958283 0
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... Solomon’s Mines takes the form mainly of exhaustingly oracular pronouncements: there is none of Forster’s anxiety, or Kipling’s affection. Foulata is a tribeswoman who falls in love with Good, and risks her life to save him. When she dies – the noble native woman always dies in Haggard – Quatermain feels ‘bound to say … that I consider her ...

Our Fault

Frank Kermode, 11 October 1990

Our Age: Portrait of a Generation 
by Noël Annan.
Weidenfeld, 479 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 297 81129 0
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... and vices of that condition; if there was Schlegel in him there was also Wilcox. One thinks of Margaret Schlegel’s naive resolve, under Wilcoxian influence, to be less polite to the servants: but although Annan reports many gentlemanly activities with an air of detachment or even disapproval, he does not find it necessary to use the word ...


Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier, 4 January 2018

... death. I first met him in 1968 when Patrick Garland brought him backstage with Princess Margaret after Forty Years On. A friend of Patrick’s, he talked mostly to him, but Princess Margaret didn’t confine herself to John Gielgud and Paul Eddington but to her credit wanted to meet the boys in the play, which she ...
From Author to Reader: A Social Study of Books 
by Peter Mann.
Routledge, 189 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 7100 9089 7
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David Copperfield 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 781 pp., £40, March 1981, 0 19 812492 9
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Martin Chuzzlewit 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Margaret Cardwell.
Oxford, 923 pp., £45, December 1982, 0 19 812488 0
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Books and their Readers in 18th-Century England 
edited by Isabel Rivers.
Leicester University Press, 267 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 7185 1189 1
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Mumby’s Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century 
by Ian Norrie.
Bell and Hyman, 253 pp., £12.95, October 1982, 0 7135 1341 1
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Reading Relations 
by Bernard Sharratt.
Harvester, 350 pp., £18.95, February 1982, 0 7108 0059 2
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... of this novel, the well-intentioned editor must survey the number plans and MS (which, thanks to Forster, survive); the proofs which Dickens corrected for the first serialised-in-monthly-numbers issue, put out by Bradbury and Evans in 1849-50; volume versions prepared for the European and American markets; and three single-volume reprints, published by ...

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