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Bad Blood: A Memoir

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By the end of the 1970s, her first marriage had ended and her second marriage to Rupert Hodson had begun. This relationship was intimately connected to another doubling of her world; her research had taken her to Italy, where they met. She decided that she wanted to live in Italy and England, and developed a pattern of teaching at UEA during term time and writing in Italy during vacations. Ms Sage is a wonderful writer. The structure and style are somewhat unusual for a memoir, and I definitely appreciate that. Or to put it another way, which makes the story less like Alice Through the Looking-Glass, more a matter of ‘Lost in the Fun-House’, these narrative mirrors are multiple and distorting:

In the past, she is revisiting a possible ancestor, the FitzRoy, nephew of Castlereagh, who captained the Beagle, and whose missionary Christian faith was horribly called in question by the works of his (later enormously famous) passenger Charles Darwin. And there’s a third layer, a tribute to the other Victorians, in the form of Dodgson’s Alice, a mad hatter’s tea-party set in a pastoral landscape, where Charlotte (or one of the people she’s split into) converses looking-glass style with an orang-utan called Jenny and three men who turn up in a boat, and are always demanding more to eat and drink and smoke – Marx, Freud and Darwin (again – he is, as we shall see, the real guru in the woodpile). As Jenny the orang-utan says to these rather bewildered guests of our heroine’s imagination, ‘She believes herself to be doomed. Psychologically. Politically. And genetically. Welcome to the wonderful world of disappointment, boys.’ Until Charlotte gets the hang of her playground by the sea their déjeuner sur l’ herbe is a comically glum affair: ‘The three elderly gentlemen sat in a languid circle on the grassy bank around a bright white cloth covered with the detritus of a picnic lunch. They looked neither comfortable in their formal suits, nor relaxed, yet they sat on.’ In fact they have no choice about the matter since Charlotte herself is, in the colloquial phrase, out to lunch most of the time – just about capable of putting them on trial for having sold her their grand theories (‘I sentence them to wander helplessly in the historical wilderness’) but not very efficient at organising the catering. In this stratum of narrative we’re in ‘Lineage Alley. Limbo Park. Dementia Place. Idyll Mews’. Nowheresville.Sage, Lorna, ed. (1999). The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p.v. In a sense this is what autobiography is about: the ways in which your own story is not really yours at all, but a version of the tale of your parents or grandparents. These are the ways in which you become, as Steedman puts it, "not quite yourself, but someone else", and this is what makes it such a dissatisfying genre for those wanting a reassuring or comfortable description of the growth of an individual mind. Sage's childhood is recounted in her memoir Bad Blood (2000), which traces her disappointment in a family where warped behaviour passed down from generation to generation. The book won the Whitbread Biography Award on 3 January 2001. [7] [8]

stars. It was a surprise to read about the unusual childhood of Lorna Sage, a well known literary critic. While her father was away fighting in World War II, young Lorna and her mother lived with her grandparents in a vicarage in Hanmer, Flintshire. Her grandparents had a terrible marriage and were constantly fighting. Her philandering minister grandfather loved to frequent the pubs. He was very bright and passed on his love of reading to Lorna. Her relatives wondered if Lorna had inherited his "bad blood" because they had many interests in common. Her grandmother was useless when it came to cooking and cleaning, and spent most of her time complaining about men, eating sweets, and missing the comforts of her childhood home. A week later Sage died in London as a result of emphysema, from which she had suffered for some years. [9] [3] She left behind the draft of the first part of a work on Plato and Platonism in literature, which, according to her former husband [ who?] in 2001, she had been working on intermittently for many years. [5] The posthumous collection Moments of Truth partly consists of reprinted introductions to classic works. [3] Publications [ edit ] Well before the invention of "new historicism" they taught what was, at the time, a unique course on the urban landscapes of the 1830s and 40s. Questioning a simple-minded distinction between fact and fiction, they analysed the rhetoric of 19th-century fiction, philosophy and government reports, finding in the forms of language a guide to the mentality of a culture.

Episode two - Favourite books from our guests

So many great quotes, and wonderful that she managed to get this memoir written and published as her life was coming to an end, it won the Whitbread Book Award a week before she died at the tender age of 57. Neo-Platonism was a source of endless fascination. It played a crucial role in the English poetic tradition, something that could be traced in the work of Milton, Shelley and, in a transatlantic version, the poetry of Wallace Stevens. More than a set of philosophical doctrines, it offered a way of both imagining and managing the world; it was possible to be both this worldly and other worldly at the same time.

The book spans the 40s, 50s and 60s, the years from her unconventional upbringing in a filthy vicarage, through her council house teens to her graduation from Durham university. One of the most compelling sections is her analysis of the failings of her vicar grandfather, responsible for the ‘bad blood’ she is later believed to inherit. Without reverting to bitterness or emotionality, but instead approaching her grandfather as text — it is his diary she plunders for evidence of his depravity — Sage painstakingly pieces together the clues as to what drives his hypocritical and unethical behaviour, not only as vicar but as husband, father and man.For some contemporary writers trips into the past signify revisionism, the irreverence of parody, the freedom to choose your literary forebears. For Diski it’s quite the perverse reverse. One reviewer said that parts of the book stretched belief. That part for me was when she said she couldn't remember having sex and was incredulous to find herself pregnant. Oh well...we all have our coping mechanisms.

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