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Cause and Effect

A.J. Ayer, 15 October 1981

Hume and the Problem of Causation 
by Tom Beauchamp and Alexander Rosenberg.
Oxford, 327 pp., £15, August 1981, 0 19 520236 8
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The Science of Legislator: The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith 
by Knud Haakonssen.
Cambridge, 240 pp., £17.50, September 1981, 0 521 23891 9
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... On the flyleaf of Messrs Beauchamp and Rosenberg’s book about Hume’s theory of causation, Professor Donald Davidson says of it: ‘This is certainly the best available discussion of Hume and causality. It is much more than that, however: it is the best book-length treatment of causality.’ Professor Davidson is perhaps a little biased by the fact that the authors’ views on the nature of causality coincide so very closely with his own ...

Animal, Spiritual and Cerebral

Mary Midgley, 18 August 1983

Animal Thought 
by Stephen Walker.
Routledge, 388 pp., £17.50, January 1983, 0 7100 9037 4
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On the Evolution of Human Behaviour 
by Peter Reynolds.
California, 259 pp., £20, December 1981, 0 520 04294 8
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The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit 
by Melvin Konner.
Heinemann, 436 pp., £16.50, October 1982, 0 434 39703 2
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Sociobiology and the Human Dimension 
by Georg Breuer.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £22.50, January 1983, 0 521 24544 3
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Sociobiology and the Pre-Emption of Social Science 
by Alexander Rosenberg.
Blackwell, 210 pp., £9.90, March 1981, 0 631 12625 2
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... called for, of the crude and over-ambitious attempts to apply the method to human beings. Rosenberg, by contrast, recommends doing precisely that, but at a cost which might make the most fervent sociobiologist grow pale – namely, by getting rid of all the vernacular language which at present deforms the subject, and converting it into a seamless ...

Bohemian in Vitebsk

J. Hoberman: Red Chagall, 9 April 2009

Chagall: Love and Exile 
by Jackie Wullschlager.
Allen Lane, 582 pp., £30, October 2008, 978 0 7139 9652 4
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... Howe dismissed Chagall’s ‘softened and sweetened’ version of the shtetl. Harold Rosenberg was more tolerant in his condescension: ‘The distinction of Chagall’s ghetto recollections lies in his tenderness.’ Clement Greenberg had the most complicated response. In 1946, he said that Chagall’s ‘gaucherie’ was essential ...

Faking It

Sam Gilpin: Paul Watkins, 10 August 2000

The Forger 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 343 pp., £9.99, July 2000, 0 571 20194 6
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... The Committee handles his boarding fees and pays for tutorials with a famous Russian painter, Alexander Pankratov. David is befriended by an art dealer, Guillaume Fleury, who sells on some of David’s ‘Gauguin’ sketches as originals – without his knowledge. The French police discover the fraud just as the Germans are threatening the city, and David ...

Stalin at the Movies

Peter Wollen: The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism by J. Hoberman, 25 November 1999

The Red Atlantis: Communist Culture in the Absence of Communism 
by J. Hoberman.
Temple, 315 pp., £27.95, November 1998, 1 56639 643 3
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... the thoughtful Jewish New Yorker, reading the novels of Victor Serge or reconsidering the Rosenberg case; the compulsive film aficionado, intrigued by the representation of the Communist world in Soviet films, Hollywood movies and the work of the East European New Wave directors, such as Gyula Gazdag or Dusan Makavejev; and then the cultural ...

Princes, Counts and Racists

David Blackbourn: Weimar, 19 May 2016

Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present 
by Michael Kater.
Yale, 463 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 0 300 17056 6
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... Arnold Böcklin, two of the first teachers at the painting academy established by Grand Duke Carl Alexander, would later become major artists, but both left within a few years, repelled by the philistinism of local notables and the formality of the court. A generation later the 25-year-old Richard Strauss was hired, but like others before him felt blocked by ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... useful for disciplining errant or over-imaginative reporters into the uses of impartiality. (Alexander Cockburn comes right out and says that its purpose is to convince the public that everything else in yesterday’s Times was historically and morally true.) Anyway, last November the paper ran a ‘Correction’ which is unlikely to be bested: An ...

On That Terrible Night …

Christian Schütze: The wartime bombing of Germany, 21 August 2003

On the Natural History of Destruction 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Anthea Bell.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £16.99, February 2003, 0 241 14126 5
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Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-45 
by Jörg Friedrich.
Propyläen, 592 pp., €25, November 2002, 3 549 07165 5
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Payback 
by Gert Ledig, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Granta, 200 pp., £8.99, May 2003, 1 86207 565 4
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... Sebald is not the only writer to have ask-ed these questions. Hans Magnus Enzens-berger and Alexander Kluge, too, observed signs of individual and collective amnesia, an obsession with the future, a dogged desire to lose oneself in work, above all an ‘inability to mourn’ (the title of a well-known book by ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... Walker supplies a ‘chronological table’ that correlates authors and titles with events (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone the same year that Henry James published Roderick Hudson; Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems coincided with Coca-Cola’s adoption of its ‘distinctly shaped bottle’). Still, naturalists have their ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson, 18 November 1982

Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... possibilities for a negotiated peace. President Belaunde Terry of Peru, with some help from Alexander Haig, had advanced his proposal that both sides should withdraw (the British landings had not yet taken place), that a third party should temporarily administer the islands, and that a settlement should be reached within a fixed time-limit. The matter ...

The Last Years of Edward Kelley, Alchemist to the Emperor

Charles Nicholl: Edward Kelly, 19 April 2001

... incident in Prague gives us a vividly nasty glimpse of him: ‘In this company of drinking was Alexander’ – a Polish servant – ‘unto whom E.K. (when the drink on a sudden had overcome him) said he would cut off his head, and with his walking-staff did touch him fair and softly on the neck, sitting before him.’ The following morning there was a ...

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