He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt, 21 May 2020

My Dark Vanessa is a pedagogical novel in more than one sense, a work of fiction that also wants to be a work of reference: here is how an abusive relationship develops between an insecure teenager...

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Not in Spanish: Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann, 21 May 2020

The author is obviously in love with his subject, taking it everywhere with him, seeing it wherever he goes. ‘Most of the people I know are bilingual’ is his delightful shrug.

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‘But do you really think I am any good?’ a breathless Spender asked. ‘Of course’ was Auden’s reply, and when pressed a little further: ‘Because you are so infinitely...

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Instapoetry

Clare Bucknell, 21 May 2020

Each poem is as unmemorable and reusable as a coffee keep-cup, deployable several times over the course of a few weeks while still seeming new. The format suits a readership hunting for relatable content,...

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Bournemouth: The Bournemouth Set

Andrew O’Hagan, 21 May 2020

‘Remember the pallid brute that lived in Skerryvore like a weevil in a biscuit,’ Stevenson wrote. Yet his three years there, the only period he spent in England, were the best years of his...

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Early on​ in This Mournable Body, a skimpily dressed woman in ‘sky-high heels’ falls backwards onto muddy ground while trying to climb into a crowded Harare minibus. Nobody comes to...

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‘The matter of your work is yours entirely and I don’t think you have it in your power to “hurt” me,’ Elizabeth Hardwick told Robert Lowell. ‘I mean that I cannot see...

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Pointing the Finger: ‘The Plague’

Jacqueline Rose, 7 May 2020

One of the things Camus’s novel conveys is that, at the very moment we appear to be taking the grimmest reality on board, we might also be deluding ourselves. Counting is at once a scientific...

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Just a Diphthong Away: Gary Lutz

Ange Mlinko, 7 May 2020

After​ reading five hundred pages of Gary Lutz, I opened Google Maps and took a long, hard look at the state where he was born: Pennsylvania, the ‘Keystone State’, although...

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Some of us​ are trapped all our lives. This is the lesson of Beryl Bainbridge’s novel Injury Time, first published in 1977. It is a sort of dinner party farce, except better. The aptly...

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Time and the Sea

Fredric Jameson, 16 April 2020

In Conrad, ‘le mot juste’ becomes a formula for translation from French to English, and the equivalent in literary production of the hesitation in the fabula between the status of captain or...

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Twelve years after she published The Second Sex in 1949 she was still receiving letters from women who told her that it had ‘saved me’; psychiatrists, she heard, gave it to their patients....

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Porno Swagger: ‘Cleanness’

Edmund Gordon, 16 April 2020

Garth Greenwell is interested in what it means to be told your sexuality is disgusting: what it does to your sense of self, and how it contaminates desire. His writing is unusual in combining Hollinghurst’s...

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His Secret Opening: Revism

Joe Dunthorne, 2 April 2020

To fuck God once or twice at moderate length would be enough for most writers but Gerard Reve had a reputation to uphold. He decided to defend himself at the trial, which ran from 1966 to 1968. It...

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Towards the end of the correspondence a self-consciousness creeps in. Responding to ‘Parker’s Back’, one of O’Connor’s last stories, Gordon’s self-deprecation borders...

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It’s still not right: ‘Empty Words’

Adam Thirlwell, 19 March 2020

In​ Mario Levrero’s novel Empty Words a writer, unable to change the vast mess of his life, decides to improve one small part of it: his handwriting.My graphological self-therapy begins...

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At moments Mantel might have heeded the words addressed by her Wyatt to Cromwell: ‘Be careful . . . You are on the brink of explaining yourself.’

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At the Morgan Library: Ubu Jarry

Hal Foster, 19 March 2020

What happens when a travesty of authority becomes a template for power, when Dada sets up in the White House or at 10 Downing Street?

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