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Oral History

Carolyn Steedman, 19 June 1986

The Hungry Self: Women, Eating and Identity 
by Kim Chernin.
Virago, 213 pp., £3.95, May 1986, 0 86068 746 5
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Hunger Strike 
by Susie Orbach.
Faber, 201 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13682 6
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Holy Anorexia 
by Rudolph Bell.
Chicago, 248 pp., £18.95, January 1986, 0 226 04204 9
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... Chernin, also provides an analysis of eating disorders that deals in cultural and political terms. Rudolph Bell’s subject is historical: the anorexic behaviour of certain Medieval ascetic and saintly Italian women. Using modern clinical and feminist delineations of anorexia nervosa, he makes a convincing case for interpreting self-abnegation and ...

Making saints

Peter Burke, 18 October 1984

Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom 1000-1700 
by Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell.
Chicago, 314 pp., £21.25, February 1983, 0 226 89055 4
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The Norman Conquest and Beyond 
by Frank Barlow.
Hambledon, 318 pp., £22, June 1983, 0 907628 19 2
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Miracles and the Medieval Mind 
by Benedicta Ward.
Scolar, 321 pp., £17.50, November 1983, 0 85967 609 9
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The Great Debate on Miracles: From Joseph Glanvill to David Hume 
by R.M. Burns.
Associated University Presses, 305 pp., £17.50, July 1983, 0 8387 2378 0
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Saints and their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History 
edited by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 435 pp., £35, December 1983, 0 521 24978 3
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... studied the later Middle Ages, and now two specialists in Italian history, Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell, have surveyed the whole of Western Christendom from the year 1000 to 1700. This peculiar form of upward social mobility exerts a fascination which may owe something to the sensation of teetering on the edge of blasphemy, or of parodying ...

Some girls want out

Hilary Mantel: Spectacular saintliness, 4 March 2004

The Voices of Gemma Galgani: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Saint 
by Rudolph Bell and Cristina Mazzoni.
Chicago, 320 pp., £21, March 2003, 0 226 04196 4
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 
by Kathryn Harrison.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 84728 7
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The Disease of Virgins: Green Sickness, Chlorosis and the Problems of Puberty 
by Helen King.
Routledge, 196 pp., £50, September 2003, 0 415 22662 7
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A Wonderful Little Girl: The True Story of Sarah Jacob, the Welsh Fasting Girl 
by Siân Busby.
Short Books, 157 pp., £5.99, June 2004, 1 904095 70 4
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... at least kept news of them behind the grille until the would-be saint’s CV had been worked over. Rudolph Bell’s book Holy Anorexia (1985) concentrates on Italian saints, and is especially rewarding for connoisseurs of the spiritually lurid. St Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi lay naked on thorns. Saint Catherine of Siena drank pus from a cancerous ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... Moore, whose ‘Four Quartz Crystal Clocks’, taking as its setting the US Naval Observatory and Bell Telephone Laboratory Time Vault, is a plea for punctuality and punctiliousness:     The lemur-student can see       that an aye-aye is not an angwan-tibo, potto or loris. Amy Clampitt can probably tell an aye-aye from an angwan-tibo and might ...

In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts

Thomas Sugrue: Barry Goldwater, 3 January 2008

The Conscience of a Conservative 
by Barry Goldwater.
Princeton, 144 pp., £8.95, June 2007, 978 0 691 13117 7
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... presidential election cycle, the Grand Old Party is in disarray. Two of its leading contenders – Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney – come from states that are among the most liberal in the country. Both have long records of supporting issues anathema to their party’s right-wing base. If either the twice-divorced New Yorker or the Mormon from ...

Jungle Joys

Alfred Appel Jr: Wa-Wa-Wa with the Duke, 5 September 2002

... Williams opens his solo by playing quaveringly with a plunger over an already cup-muted trumpet bell, grandly removing these fetters on his magisterial second chorus to release Armstrong-like joys. But after only half a chorus, he tamps and conserves them with another, even tighter mute, evidently to meet tomorrow’s anticipated needs. They seem to ride on ...

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