Christine Smallwood

Christine Smallwood is a columnist at Harper’s in New York.

Shorn and Slathered: ‘Reynard the Fox’

Christine Smallwood, 5 November 2015

The word​ for ‘fox’ in medieval France was goupil – until a set of allegorical tales about a fox called Reynard became so popular that renard started to be used instead. The characterisation of foxes as wily had already been established by Aesop, but Reynard himself first appeared in the tenth-century poem Ecbasis Captivi (‘The Escape of the Captive’), and he...

Breeds of New Yorker: ‘The Group’ Revisited

Christine Smallwood, 11 February 2010

In novels, a marriage is not only the place where comedy ends: it is also the place where tragedy begins. The wedding of Lil Roth, the opening act of Joanna Smith Rakoff’s A Fortunate Age, is followed by a lame attempt at spousal murder-by-scissors, a brief stay in a Manhattan mental institution, and Lil’s freak death after a bad case of flu. Lil hadn’t even planned to get...

 The action moves from classrooms to therapists’ rooms to an academic conference, from apartments to hotels, from trains and cars to aeroplanes. But it doesn’t really matter where we are because Christine...

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