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Studied Luxury

Margaret Anne Doody, 20 April 1995

No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton 
by Shari Benstock.
Hamish Hamilton, 546 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 241 13298 3
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Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life 
by Eleanor Dwight.
Harry Adams, 335 pp., $39.95, May 1994, 0 8109 3971 1
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... The title of Benstock’s biography of Edith Wharton is somewhat mal à propos. Edith Wharton, other reviewers have pointed out, had plenty of gifts from chance. She was born, in 1862, into wealth and leisure, she had a sufficiency of good looks (in an era when that mattered even more than now). As a writer she was highly successful, both critically and commercially ...

George’s Hand

Dinah Birch, 7 March 1996

A Son at the Front 
by Edith Wharton.
Northern Illinois, 223 pp., $26, November 1995, 0 87580 203 6
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... publication in 1923. Its reappearance now, with a shrewd Introduction by Wharton’s biographer Shari Benstock, adds to a wave of recent thinking about questions of gender in the First World War. At the time, and for years after, the war that did more than anything else to separate the 19th century from the experience of modern culture seemed ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... work that has been done on Wharton since 1975, for instance by Cynthia Wolff, Eleanor Dwight and Shari Benstock (who is at pains in her book to correct some inaccuracies by Lewis) is barely mentioned, as if no one existed in this contest over Fullerton except Lewis and Mainwaring. It is as curious a story of slow-burning, obsessional scholarly revenge ...

Fade to Greige

Elaine Showalter: Mad for the Handcuff Bracelets, 4 January 2001

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion 
by Holly Brubach.
Phaidon, 232 pp., £19.95, October 1999, 9780714838878
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Fashion Today 
by Colin McDowell.
Phaidon, 511 pp., £39.95, September 2000, 0 7148 3897 7
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Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Society in Clothing 
by Diana Crane.
Chicago, 294 pp., £19, August 2000, 0 226 11798 7
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Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries 
by Avril Hart and Susan North.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 223 pp., £19.95, October 2000, 1 85177 258 8
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Don We Now Our Gay Appalrel: Gay Men’s Dress in the 20th Century 
by Shuan Cole.
Berg, 224 pp., £42.99, September 2000, 1 85973 415 4
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The Gallery of Fashion 
by Aileen Ribeiro.
Princeton, 256 pp., £60, November 2000, 0 691 05092 9
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Giorgio Armani 
by Germano Celant and Harold Koda.
Abrams, 392 pp., £40, October 2000, 0 8109 6927 0
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... of academic theoretical categories, a discourse. In their collection of essays, On Fashion (1994), Shari Benstock and Suzanne Ferris traced the change to French feminist theory, ‘whose stylish, wickedly witty, playful intellectualism made our heads spin’. Indeed, they argued, there was no escape from fashion, just as there was no escape from literary ...

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