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Chastened

Lorna Tracy, 3 September 1981

The Habit of Being: Letters by Flannery O’Connor 
edited by Sally Fitzgerald.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 639 pp., £8.25, January 1979, 0 571 12017 2
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The violent bear it away 
by Flannery O’Connor.
Faber, 226 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 571 12017 2
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A good man is hard to find 
by Flannery O’Connor.
Women’s Press, 251 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7043 2832 1
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... that evil is present in the world as a positive force? In spite of the slightly defensive tone of Sally Fitzgerald’s introduction to The Habit of Being, behind which seems to lie a worry that readers might decide that every Flannery O’Connor story about a banal widow and her surly, smart-ass child must be a direct transcription from the author’s ...

Not in My House

Mark Ford: Flannery O’Connor, 23 July 2009

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor 
by Brad Gooch.
Little, Brown, 448 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 316 00066 6
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... until the summer of 1952, shortly after the publication of her first novel, Wise Blood. Her friend Sally Fitzgerald, the wife of the poet and translator Robert Fitzgerald, broke the news, which effectively terminated all dreams of escaping Andalusia, the farm outside Milledgeville run by her mother. There O’Connor ...

Vampire to Victim

Nina Auerbach: The Cult of Zelda, 19 June 2003

Zelda FitzgeraldHer Voice in Paradise 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 492 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7195 5466 7
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... Zelda Fitzgerald would probably call herself a post-feminist today, but when she was alive, she made herself a flapper. In 1926, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s charmingly wild wife told an interviewer that she hoped her daughter’s generation would be even ‘jazzier’ than her own: ‘I think a woman gets more happiness out of being gay, light-hearted, unconventional, mistress of her own fate, than out of a career that calls for hard work, intellectual pessimism and loneliness ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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TheConstant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... have now been reprinted by Virago. It was Wilde who first addressed Ada Leverson as the Sphinx. Sally Beauman, I think, worries unduly about this. There were many Sphinxes about in the Nineties. One of them appeared to Richard le Gallienne as he sat in a restaurant eating whitebait, others to Gustave Moreau and to Khnopff. Nor would I agree with ...

A History

Allan Massie, 19 February 1981

The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... the icy lake.’ For this is Chicago 1968, and the boys in the club are getting tanked up for a sally to the Negro quarter to roust up a Negro who has assaulted the Doctor’s daughter, and it is in connection with this that the Doctor wishes that he ‘could say he were a simple man, but none of us can say that any more.’ There are, as these passages may ...

Diary

Jay McInerney: The Great American Novelists, 23 April 1987

... before slitting their throats. ‘There are no second acts in American lives,’ said F. Scott Fitzgerald, archetype of the American artist betrayed by the Judas kiss of fame, his early work overpraised, he himself declared a has-been just as he was achieving mastery. No one understood the process better than the author of The Great Gatsby, certainly not ...

Zoning Out and In

Christopher Tayler: Richard Ford, 30 November 2006

The Lay of the Land 
by Richard Ford.
Bloomsbury, 485 pp., £17.99, October 2006, 0 7475 8188 6
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... old taunt that says, “Get a life,” I can say: “I already have an existence, thanks.”’ Sally Caldwell, his new girlfriend, fits neatly into the Existence Period, being independent, undemanding and, officially, a widow. Frank was at school with Wally, her former husband, whose experiences in Vietnam ‘left him intermittently distracted’, and ...

In the Company of Confreres

Terry Eagleton: ‘Modern British Fiction’, 12 December 2002

On Modern British Fiction 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 328 pp., £14.99, October 2002, 0 19 924932 6
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... with impunity to give away the endings of whodunnits. We are told on page 248 who strangled Sally in James’s Cover Her Face (it wasn’t, of course, the loyal housekeeper), and a page later Priestman coolly lets the murderer of A Certain Justice out of the bag. If this kind of thing catches on, one can imagine the Crime Writers Guild threatening to ...

Superchild

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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... reacting against. It was against characters in books, which formed a convenient target and Aunt Sally, disguising the fact that what she really repudiated was the imaginative and introspective organisation which produced the character as a work of art. ‘If they didn’t feel a thing why did they go and pretend to?’ asks Rachel in The Voyage Out. Her ...

At the End of a Dirt Road

Thomas Powers: The Salinger File, 24 October 2019

The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour – an Introduction 
by J.D. Salinger.
Little, Brown, 1072 pp., $100, November 2018, 978 0 316 45071 3
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... of smart private schools, his wardrobe from Brooks Brothers, the names of his girlfriends (Sally Hayes, Jane Gallagher), his dream of running off and living in a little cabin in the West, or at the edge of the woods in Massachusetts or Vermont, all say WASP in a voice with no trace of Jewish New York. When Salinger’s mother peppered the young ...

Bunnymooning

Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... about Oxford life called Folly Bridge, which starred Jeremy’s cousin and closest confidante, Sally Hinchcliffe (a classics scholar at Somerville), and brought its director and producer scholarships to, respectively, the UCLA film school and IDHEC in Paris. Jeremy later wrote of the script having been produced ‘under ideal working conditions – a ...

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