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Anti-Humanism

Terry Eagleton: Lawrence Sanitised, 5 February 2004

D.H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’: Post-Coloniality and the Poetry of the Present 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Oxford, 226 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 19 926052 4
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... on Flaubert, Hélène Cixous on Joyce, Harold Bloom on Wallace Stevens, J. Hillis Miller on Henry James. Some theorists are slapdash readers, but so are some non-theoretical critics. Derrida is so perversely myopic a reader, doggedly pursuing the finest flickers of meaning across a page, that he exasperates some of his opponents with his supersubtlety, not ...

The View from the Top

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Upland Anarchists, 2 December 2010

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland South-East Asia 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 442 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 300 16917 1
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... life there. Three quite different figures in the Western academy can claim the credit for this: Clifford Geertz, Benedict Anderson and James C. Scott. Geertz, one of whose many talents was for the writing of superbly perfidious book reviews, was the master of the catchy phrase: he gave us ‘theatre ...

Adrift from Locality

James Davidson: Captain Cook’s Mistake, 3 November 2005

Apologies to Thucydides: Understanding History as Culture and Vice Versa 
by Marshall Sahlins.
Chicago, 334 pp., £21, December 2004, 0 226 73400 5
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... For students of the human sciences, the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins is, with Clifford Geertz, one of the few Americans who has achieved the status of a name to conjure with alongside the French maîtres à penser, particularly when the conversation turns to the topics of ‘Big Men’ (power-brokers who aren’t chiefs, masters of the games of speech and generosity), or the socially embedded economy of premodern societies, ‘negative reciprocity’ (exchange characterised by hard bargaining, predation or theft), the cultural apperception of colour, or why Americans don’t eat dogs ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead, 6 March 2014

Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... In​ 1957, in a remote village on the south coast of Bali, the young anthropologist Clifford Geertz was watching a cremation ceremony spill down a hillside when the crowd suddenly parted, ‘as in a DeMille movie’, and there, propped up on her walking stick, stood Margaret Mead. She was on her way to India for ‘a World Conference on some sort of World Problem’, and had tracked down Geertz and his wife on her ‘notoriously bad ankles ...

Between the Raindrops

David Bromwich: The Subtlety of James Stewart, 12 December 2002

James Stewart at the NFT 
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... and John Barrymore, thought him more remarkable than any of them. On screen, his name appeared as James Stewart, and he worked hard at every detail. He was a canny businessman. Before the Second World War, he invested in a small airline. Soon after the war, taking advantage of the new freedom from studio contracts, he was one of the first actors to arrange to ...

Brideshead and the Tower Blocks

Patrick Wright, 2 June 1988

Home: A Short History of an Idea 
by Witold Rybczynski.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 434 14292 1
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... was a moving force behind the National Trust’s new Country House Scheme, recommending James Lees-Milne for the job of historic buildings secretary and also helping to define the aesthetic which would be built up around the preserved country house. In English Country Houses (1941) she started to theorise the English country house in terms that ...

Private Thomas

Andrew Motion, 19 December 1985

Edward Thomas: A Portrait 
by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 331 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 19 818527 8
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... than public actions: he had fallen in love with Helen, the daughter of his mentor the journalist James Ashcroft Noble. Thomas’s devotion to Helen was fuelled by his wish for independence from his family, and by his hopes of cutting a dash with his contemporaries, but it rapidly brought him responsibilities of a more constricting kind. Although he and Helen ...

Culture and Personality

Caroline Humphrey, 31 August 1989

Margaret Mead: A Life of Controversy 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Penguin, 96 pp., £3.99, May 1989, 0 14 008760 5
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Ruth Benedict: Stranger in the Land 
by Margaret Caffrey.
Texas, 432 pp., $24.95, February 1989, 0 292 74655 5
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... when immigrants’ children experienced different living conditions. The Pragmatist philosophers James and Dewey attacked the idea of eternal values: conduct determines values, they maintained, and conduct changes all the time. Boas insisted that ‘race’, which does not exist as a series of objective categories, must be separated from ‘culture’, which ...

Jackson breaks the ice

Andrew Forge, 4 April 1991

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... everything speeds up. Krasner had many more connections than Pollock, and a strong social sense. James Johnson Sweeney became interested in Pollock and recommended him to Peggy Guggenheim who, in the throes of a break with the émigré Surrealists, was planning a juried show for young artists. Mondrian was one of the jurors. The story of Mondrian’s Nod is ...

Albino Sea-Cucumber

Glen Newey: The Long March of Cornelius Castoriadis, 5 February 1998

The Imaginary Institution of Society 
by Cornelius Castoriadis.
Polity, 418 pp., £14.95, May 1997, 0 7456 1950 9
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Les Carrefours de Labyrinthe: Fait et a faire 
by Cornelius Castoriadis.
Seuil, 281 pp., frs 139, February 1997, 2 02 029909 7
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The Castoriadis Reader 
edited by David Ames Curtis.
Blackwell, 470 pp., £50, May 1997, 1 55786 703 8
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... it, forming Socialisme ou barbarie with a congeries of radicals which eventually included C.L.R. James and the Sino-American, Grace Lee Boggs; free of the French Communist Party, he managed to avoid embroilment in the latter’s dizzying volte-fesses, chronicled by Sartre in Les Mains sales. He sided with the Algerian rebels against his adopted homeland and ...

Rumour Is Utterly Unfounded

Jenny Diski: Family Newspapers, 8 October 2009

Family Newspapers?: Sex, Private Life and the British Popular Press 1918-78 
by Adrian Bingham.
Oxford, 298 pp., £55, February 2009, 978 0 19 927958 6
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... in a newspaper intended for general reading, put it more clearly than that.’ Four years later, James Douglas of the Sunday Express announced that The Well of Loneliness was ‘A Book That Must Be Suppressed’ because ‘its theme is utterly inadmissible in the novel . . . Many things are discussed in scientific textbooks that cannot be decently ...

Limits of Civility

Glen Newey: Walls, 17 March 2011

Walled States, Waning Sovereignty 
by Wendy Brown.
Zone, 167 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 1 935408 08 6
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... The US now proposes to fence off its entire 2000-mile southern border, on land annexed by James Knox Polk in the 1840s. Today, despite the policing of the border, illegal Mexican workers account for about 5 per cent of the US workforce. Reducing the supply of cheap labour would raise wages and force some firms out of business. As with the missile ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... Yaddo did in a hundred. And Bernie Katz, son of the South London gangster Brian ‘Little Legs’ Clifford, ran the Groucho as a pit stop for the perpetually wounded. (Bernie admitted that when he went into the bedroom where his father had been shot to death by two masked men, he didn’t hesitate: ‘I sashayed over to his wardrobe, and navigated my way ...

History as a Bunch of Flowers

James Davidson: Jacob Burckhardt, 20 August 1998

The Greeks and Greek Civilisation 
by Jacob Burckhardt, edited by Oswyn Murray, translated by Sheila Stern.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £24.99, May 1998, 0 00 255855 6
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... shadow looming over some of the classics which have been most influential among modern historians. Clifford Geertz’s treatment of the Balinese cockfight as a novel or a play, Stephen Greenblatt’s ‘self-fashioning’ or Foucault’s notion of the Greek Self as a ‘stylisation of freedom’, produced out of an ‘aesthetics of existence’. When Simon ...

To kill a cat

Anthony Pagden, 21 February 1985

Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part One: I Grandi Staii dell’Occidente 
by Franco Venturi.
Einaudi, 463 pp., lire 45,000, July 1984, 88 06 05695 6
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Settecento Riformatore. Vol. IV: La Caduta dell’Antico Regime 1776-1789. Part Two: II Patriotismo Repubblicano e gli Imperi dell’Est 
by Franco Venturi.
Einaudi, 1040 pp., lire 55,000, July 1984, 88 06 05696 4
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The Great Cat Massacre, and Other Episodes in French Cultural History 
by Robert Darnton.
Viking, 284 pp., £14.95, July 1984, 0 7139 1728 8
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Rousseau, Dreamer of Democracy 
by James Miller.
Yale, 272 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 300 03044 4
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... culture have borrowed freely, especially from Victor Turner and Darnton’s acknowledged mentor, Clifford Geertz, whose principal concern has been with culture as a system of meanings, as, in Geertz’s phrase, an ‘acted document’. But the historian faces problems the anthropologist does not. His material is fragmentary and fixed. It cannot be questioned ...

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