Author: Rebecca Duncan

International Women’s Day: Bernard MacLaverty’s ‘Midwinter Break’

In her review of Bernard MacLaverty’s latest novel Midwinter Break, Irish author Anne Enright notes that “The world is full of long-married people, and literature almost devoid of them”[i]. Unsurprisingly, many writers and readers may feel there isn’t a great or gripping story to tell in such an orthodox situation. It is strange, then, that a novel about a retired couple in a long-term marriage, written by a white, western, male, Catholic writer includes a female protagonist worth talking about on International Women’s Day. In the novel, Gerry and Stella Gilmore – both originally from Northern Ireland but now...

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Carson McCullers: A Reading Recommendation for International Women’s Day

This year, 2017, marks the centenary of Carson McCullers’ birth. It seems appropriate then that on International Women’s Day some attention is given to this author who exists, at least on this side of the pond, in underserved obscurity.  McCullers is relatively unknown in the UK – I know of only two people around my age to have read any of her work – but she is regarded in America as a great writer. However, even in a U.S. context, McCullers’ work is often boxed into the category of Southern Gothic, leaving her often to pale into insignificance compared...

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Intellectual Snobbery? – Limiting the Brontës to the world of classic literature

It is the classic dichotomy; old vs young, tradition vs innovation, the classical vs the modern.  This particular debate is one seen again and again and again within literature and is one which has plagued the Brontë Society for a number of years. Now recent events have seen the clash of ideals amongst the governors of one of the world’s oldest and influential literary societies brought to light and straight into the public eye. Nick Holland, Brontë expert and author, has resigned as a member of the society due to the appointment of Lily Cole, actress, social activist, and...

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Culturised’s Top Literature Picks of 2017

At the start of 2017 when I chose a selection of books to look out for in 2017, it was difficult to know what the year would have in store.  Some of those predictions were fairly accurate, but others in the literary – as well as the wider – world could not be anticipated. When Philip Pullman announced in February that he would be publishing a new trilogy set in the His Dark Materials universe, bookworms the world over squealed with excitement, and the release of the first novel in the trilogy was arguably the biggest literary event of...

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Man Booker Prize 2017: The Personal and the Politicial in Sebastian Barry’s ‘Days Without End’

In its almost fifty-year history, the Man Booker Prize has never failed to get people talking, with its recipient being destined for success and reputation whilst its critics make no effort to hold back in their public judgement. In 2017 when news spreads across the world – even the universe – in a matter of minutes, anyone can become a social commentator online, and politics seems to be heading further and further towards the extreme, the idea that the personal is political still rings true. Therefore, for a literary prize that has been deemed to be too political for...

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The David Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall: An Artist Back Home

“I used to love going to Cartwright Hall as a kid, it was the only place in Bradford I could see real paintings.” – David Hockney[1] In his eightieth birthday year, a new permanent David Hockney gallery has opened in the artist’s hometown of Bradford. Cartwright Hall, located just outside the city centre in the picturesque setting of Lister Park, is something of a hidden gem within the former industrial powerhouse city. Hockney himself frequented the gallery as a youngster, thus it seems fitting that the site of his artistic inspiration finally houses a permanent collection of his works....

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From Stage to Page: Rosie Wilby’s ‘Is Monogamy Dead’

For a number of years now, Rosie Wilby has made her name on the comedy circuit for bringing warmth and personality to her shows, as well as being truly thought-provoking. She is a firm believer in tackling difficult issues through the medium of comedy, and now she has used the same approach in her first non-fiction book. We here at culturised talked to her about the experience of becoming both performer and author and why she chose to textualise the ideas expressed in her stage show. Is Monogamy Dead? places itself among a trilogy of Wilby’s latest solo comedy...

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Choosing a Book in the Twenty-First Century

“Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it” – Jeanette Winterson[1]   Most bookworms know that it is almost impossible to walk into a bookshop without wanting to buy every single one because the thought of missing out on any of them is almost unbearable. Working at a literature festival means I’m always hearing about new books to read, whether it’s my director telling me about an epic Punjabi poem that hardly anyone in Britain has ever heard of, or...

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