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Undone, Defiled, Defaced

Jacqueline Rose, 19 October 1995

Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography 
by Jan Marsh.
Cape, 634 pp., £25, December 1994, 0 224 03585 1
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... to more than one account, she died raving at her own perdition.) ‘Why, one wonders,’ as Jan Marsh puts it, ‘did the four siblings have such difficulties when their parents’ marriage was so happy?’ And on the diametrically opposed nature of Maria and Christina’s religious experience (respectively utmost contentment and utmost ...

Fundamental Brainwork

Jerome McGann, 30 March 2000

Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Collected Writings 
edited by Jan Marsh.
Dent, 531 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 460 87875 1
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter and Poet 
by Jan Marsh.
Weidenfeld, 592 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 297 81703 5
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... but Rossetti’s pre-eminent status almost demanded that his work be called in question. Jan Marsh is exact in writing that Rossetti’s influence was ‘denied and then erased by the critical dominance of Modernism in the 20th century’. He would be drawn and quartered between the two poles of Modernist self-definition: on the one ...

Might-have-beens must die

Peter Howarth: Christina Rossetti’s Games, 1 July 2021

New Selected Poems 
by Christina Rossetti, edited by Rachel Mann.
Carcanet, 240 pp., £12.99, March 2020, 978 1 78410 906 6
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... fact that his sister was ‘a constant and often sadly-smitten invalid’. Rossetti’s biographer Jan Marsh, however, thought the endless winter scenes and paralysed lives must indicate sexual abuse, which had left a buried self-loathing cruelly reinforced by her Tractarian spirituality.Rossetti wondered herself at the contrast between her intensely ...

Only the Camels

Robert Irwin: Wilfred Thesiger, 6 April 2006

Wilfred Thesiger: The Life of the Great Explorer 
by Alexander Maitland.
HarperCollins, 528 pp., £25, February 2006, 0 00 255608 1
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... the main source for his books, written years later, most notably Arabian Sands (1959) and The Marsh Arabs (1964). Thesiger’s correspondence with his mother continued for over half a century until her death in 1973 and it was his determination to make her see what he had seen that gives his prose its precision. These letters and the diaries are ...

Those Brogues

Marina Warner, 6 October 2016

... uppers, dances the bread rolls like shoes and eats his boot, twirling the laces like spaghetti; Jan Švankmajer, the Czech surrealist and filmmaker, has animated shoes as wide-open cannibal mouths. I’d claim there’s a deeper affinity between the way you’re shod and the way you talk and who you are: that a brogue is an under-ear mark of identity, a ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... the most prominent (people tend to call it the rugby club). Chris, the caretaker, and his wife, Jan, who does the cooking, opened the building at 1.25 a.m. when they saw residents from the tower wandering the streets. Mark Simms, chief executive of the trust, came in as soon as he got the message. ‘When I saw the tower I was aghast,’ he said. ‘I ...

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