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In the Mad Laboratory

Gill Partington: Invisible Books, 16 February 2023

Literature’s Elsewheres: The Necessity of Radical Literary Practices 
by Annette Gilbert.
MIT, 419 pp., £30, April 2022, 978 0 262 54341 5
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Inventing the Alphabet: The Origin of Letters from Antiquity to the Present 
by Johanna Drucker.
Chicago, 380 pp., £32, July 2022, 978 0 226 81581 7
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... suddenly makes other things visible: a whole cultural apparatus normally taken for granted which Annette Gilbert, in Literature’s Elsewheres, calls the ‘conditions of literature’. Gilbert’s new study places Tonnard’s book in a long line of strange attempts to stretch and warp the parameters of writing. As a ...

No Casket, No Flowers

Thomas Lynch: MacSwiggan’s Ashes, 20 April 2006

Committed to the Cleansing Flame: The Development of Cremation in 19th-Century England 
by Brian Parsons.
Spire, 328 pp., £34.95, November 2005, 1 904965 04 0
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... of death, then from the corpse. In Death’s Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve, Sandra Gilbert writes: ‘Predicated on either the tenets of grief therapy or those of spiritualist counselling, peculiarly cheerful do-it-yourself memorial services focus on “celebrations of the life” of the “departed” rather than the pain that his departure ...

The Meaninglessness of Meaning

Michael Wood, 9 October 1986

The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962-1980 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Cape, 368 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 224 02302 0
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Writing Degree Zero and Elements of Semiology 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith.
Cape, 172 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 224 02267 9
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The Fashion System 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard.
Cape, 303 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 224 02984 3
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The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art and Representation 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 312 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 0 631 14746 2
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The Rustle of Language 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 373 pp., £27.50, May 1986, 0 631 14864 7
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A Barthes Reader 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Cape, 495 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 224 02946 0
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Barthes: Selected Writings 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Fontana, 495 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 00 636645 7
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Roland Barthes: A Conservative Estimate 
by Philip Thody.
University of Chicago Press, 203 pp., £6.75, February 1984, 0 226 79513 6
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Roland Barthes: Structuralism and After 
by Annette Lavers.
Methuen, 300 pp., £16.95, September 1982, 0 416 72380 2
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by Jonathan Culler.
Fontana, 128 pp., £1.95, February 1983, 0 00 635974 4
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... of his works to be published in his lifetime (he died in 1980, at the age of 65), is described by Annette Lavers as ‘his only novel, and a love story’. Opening Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes we read, inside the front cover, white on black in Barthes’s handwriting: Tout ceci doit être considéré comme dit par un personnage de roman. What follows is ...


John Bayley, 17 September 1987

Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry 
edited by Steven Gould Axelrod and Helen Deese.
Cambridge, 377 pp., £17.50, June 1987, 0 571 14979 0
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Collected Prose 
by Robert Lowell, edited and introduced by Robert Giroux.
Faber, 269 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 30872 0
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... grudging admission of continued admiration. ‘To enter any one of the poems,’ writes Sandra Gilbert, ‘was like entering a darkened, heavily curtained room where someone has been living a very long time with too many family relics. Dusty, sadly factual, sardonically circumstantial, they were like endless anecdotes told by an ancient mariner. Why did ...

Who takes the train?

Michael Wood, 8 February 1990

by François Truffaut, edited by Gilles Jocob, Claude de Givray and Gilbert Adair.
Faber, 589 pp., £17.50, November 1989, 0 571 14121 8
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... Robert Lachenay, his school friend, Helen Scott, who worked with him on the Hitchcock book, Annette Insdorf, who wrote a book about him – but also writes to friends at the Cahiers, to actors with whom he is working, to journalists requesting information, people who send him scripts, offer him awards, so we see all the small change of fame. We get a ...


Sylvia Lawson, 18 February 1988

Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... the bookshops burst, the coffee-tables groan – may be less than obvious. The anthropologist Annette Hamilton, reviewing Australians to 1788, judges that excellent volume disappointing, not so much in what it says and shows of precontact Aboriginality, but in the limitation of its address to readers who are already culturally privileged. The work, she ...

Lincoln, Illinois

William Fiennes, 6 March 1997

All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories 
by William Maxwell.
Harvill, 415 pp., £10.99, January 1997, 1 86046 308 8
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So Long, See You Tomorrow 
by William Maxwell.
Harvill, 135 pp., £8.99, January 1997, 9781860463075
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... to the non-fiction of Ancestors. We are back in Lincoln, Illinois: Grandfather Blinn, Aunt Annette, Aunt Edith; Sunday school; porch swings. The narrator writes: ‘When my mother died during the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 ...’ We hear about his brother, Hap, a ‘natural athlete’ whose ‘left leg was amputated well above the ...

Wordsworth’s Crisis

E.P. Thompson, 8 December 1988

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 306 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 19 812868 1
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... secretive about Wordsworth through much of the 1790s, and secretive in more than the matter of Annette Vallon (which was so successfully hushed up). It must follow that any biographer must engage in speculations. But Roe offers too many speculations of this order: ‘As Wordsworth parted from Losh in July 1797 it seems highly likely that ...

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