The endless vagaries of the novelists

Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 287 Lives

by John Sutherland

Profile Books (Allen & Unwin), $59.99 hb, 832 pp, 9781846681578

James Ley

James Ley

James Ley is an essayist and literary critic who lives in Melbourne. A former Editor of Sydney Review of Books, he has been a

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Here are some of the interesting things you may learn if you read John Sutherland’s Lives of the Novelists:

that James Fenimore Cooper was expelled from Yale for training a donkey to sit in the professor’s chair

that Evelyn Waugh once attempted suicide but was prevented from drowning by a passing shoal of jellyfish

that Fanny Burney underwent a double mastectomy without anaesthetic and lived to write a toe-curling description of what it felt like

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Published in April 2012 no. 340

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