From this week’s New York Times Book Review:
To the Editor:
I am writing, as I have before, to ask why the Book Review allows reviewers to call female artists by their first names. In her review of Brad Gooch’s biography of Flannery O’Connor (March 1), Joy Williams refers to Kafka as Kafka, Frank O’Hara as O’Hara (and, strange to say, Elizabeth Hardwick and Mary McCarthy as Hardwick and McCarthy), but O’Connor is apparently still a little girl, or perhaps Williams’s close friend, because she is Flannery throughout the piece.
Williams may have taken her cue from Gooch’s book, which is titled “Flannery,” but that’s no excuse; a biographer’s relationship to his/her subject is different from that of the reviewer. Also, she keeps up the Flannery business in her “Up Front” interview in the same issue. “Flannery’s illness kept her put,” she tells us there. Would she say the same of Dostoyevsky —“Fyodor’s illness kept him put”? I don’t think so. It is almost always women who are treated to this form of condescension.
I have nothing to add, other than, “right on!”