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David Nokes on the duality of Defoe

David Nokes, 19 April 1990

Daniel Defoe: His Life 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 671 pp., £20.50, November 1989, 0 8018 3785 5
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... In many ways, Paula Backscheider has written a highly appropriate life of Defoe. Fat, fact-filled and repetitious, her book offers a meandering narrative of merchant adventures and spying, opportunism and piety, taking us from fire and plague to bankruptcy via the battlefield of Sedgemoor, Newgate prison and the pillory ...

Had I been born a hero

Helen Deutsch: Female poets of the eighteenth century, 21 September 2006

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 514 pp., £43.50, January 2006, 0 8018 8169 2
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... Augustan and masculine? In her passionate and wide-ranging study of 18th-century women’s poetry, Paula Backscheider quotes Isobel Armstrong’s framing of such questions in a suggestively entitled essay, ‘The Gush of the Feminine’ (1995): We have had two hundred years to discover a discourse of and strategies for reading male poets. They belong to ...

Homo Narrator

Inga Clendinnen, 16 March 2000

Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography 
by Susanna Egan.
North Carolina, 275 pp., £39.95, September 1999, 0 8078 4782 8
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... and her theoretical discussions clear. Unlike so many of her colleagues, Egan never mumbles. Paula Backscheider comes from a very different stable. I suspect she would give short shrift to Egan’s evasive autobiographers. She writes a fluent, good-humoured, often humorous prose, she wears her extraordinary erudition as lightly as a scarf, and her ...

Fugitive Crusoe

Tom Paulin: Daniel Defoe, 19 July 2001

Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions 
by Maximilian Novak.
Oxford, 756 pp., £30, April 2001, 0 19 812686 7
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Political and Economic Writings of Daniel Defoe 
edited by W.R. Owens and P.N. Furbank.
Pickering & Chatto, £595, December 2000, 1 85196 465 7
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... our seas’. In her meticulously detailed biography of Defoe, which was published in 1989, Paula Backscheider says that at least four of his schoolmates from Morton’s Academy were executed in the wake of the rebellion. They were Kitt Battersby, William Jenkyns and the Hewling brothers. Another former schoolmate, John Shower, was pardoned on 5 ...

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