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William Ian Miller: Jon Elster, 10 August 2000

Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge, 450 pp., £14.95, March 1999, 0 521 64487 9
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... Suppose that 16 years ago you had written not one but two superlative books. Would you suffer from anxiety of influence with regard to early versions of yourself, as if, to twist Harold Bloom, your early self now played an insurmountably glorious Milton to your later romantic phases? Did Shakespeare say to himself: ‘No way I can beat Hamlet, so why write again?’ Jon Elster wrote two gems in the 1970s and 1980s, Ulysses and the Sirens and Sour Grapes ...

Troll-Descended Bruisers

Tom Shippey: ‘Njal’s Saga’, 2 July 2015

‘Why Is Your Axe Bloody?’: A Reading of ‘Njal’s Saga’ 
by William Ian Miller.
Oxford, 334 pp., £55, July 2014, 978 0 19 870484 3
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... sagas’ like Njal’s Saga and The Laxdalers’ Saga works of unrivalled subtlety. William Ian Miller, who teaches law at the University of Michigan, wrote his study of the two sides of the saga, Bloodtaking and Peacemaking, 25 years ago. Since then he has written several books on awkward aspects of social interaction, including Humiliation ...

Get it out of your system

Jenny Diski, 8 May 1997

The Anatomy of Disgust 
by William Ian Miller.
Harvard, 313 pp., £16.50, April 1997, 0 674 03154 7
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... ready to show that these truths are not universal. It’s just possible, however, that William Miller has cracked the problem with his simple but glorious statement: ‘One simply did not drink pus, even back then.’ If we want to find a common response on which all people at all times and all places can agree, then the pus-drinking activity of St ...

Don’t tread on me

Galen Strawson, 6 October 1994

Humiliation and Other Essays on Honour, Social Discomfort and Violence 
by William Ian Miller.
Cornell, 270 pp., £20.95, December 1993, 0 8014 2881 5
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... the most often felt; their centrality may lie in the strength of our desire to avoid them. William Miller’s suggestion has a creeping plausibility – in the playground, among teenagers, among mid-life colleagues, in the retirement home. It has a serious claim to express a human universal, valid for all societies, with origins in the deep past of the ...

An Alternative Agenda

Ian Hamilton, 25 June 1987

... to judge from their expressions, Might not be turning up To all our sessions: The LRB’s Karl Miller, gargoyle-like, Seems half-asleep. (The other half Is threatening to weep.) And from the TLS, Jerry Treglown Forever savouring some private joke, And Ian Hamilton, All-purpose lit. hist. hack, Invisible behind a cloud of ...

Disastered Me

Ian Hamilton, 9 September 1993

Rebecca’s Vest: A Memoir 
by Karl Miller.
Hamish Hamilton, 186 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 241 13456 0
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... tea-room, while I entered the college, at five p.m. sharp for my little chat. This is Karl Miller, aged 18. His ‘little chat’ would be with F.R. Leavis, who subsequently admitted him to Downing College as a student. ‘Lotte’ was his older woman, an exotic foreign dancer of whom we will not be hearing a lot more. The ‘terrible diary’ was the ...

Gutted

Steven Shapin, 30 June 2011

A Modern History of the Stomach: Gastric Illness, Medicine and British Society, 1800-1950 
by Ian Miller.
Pickering and Chatto, 195 pp., £60, May 2011, 978 1 84893 181 7
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... of the 19th century and medical stories about its causes were both unstable and resonant. Ian Miller’s book begins at a point of rapid change in the scientific understanding of how the stomach functioned in health and disease and breaks off – unfortunately – short of the more recent changes brought about by the surprising discovery in the ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... sadly not for very long, you could make your way to the Pillars of Hercules in Greek Street, where Ian Hamilton, editor of the New Review, was usually to be found. The suppliants, mostly young men not then long out of the universities, have very properly combined to congratulate the sage or gaffer on his 60th birthday.* Some of them got their first chance in ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... third most written about person in the ‘LRB’ archive, after Shakespeare and Freud. Here Karl Miller’s memories of the paper in her day are accompanied by extracts from some of the pieces published at the time. On the morning Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, the lesser lights of television who were minding the shop did her proud. A river of ...

Composite Person

Alex Clark: Pat Barker, 24 May 2001

Border Crossing 
by Pat Barker.
Viking, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 670 87841 3
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... That faltering charisma, expertly rendered, also serves to repel and attract the reader. Danny Miller, the character at the heart of Border Crossing, is a direct descendant of Billy Prior, down to the inappropriately boyish name. Danny can no longer lay claim to that name, however. As a boy, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an ...

Shareware

Ian Sansom: Dave Eggers, 16 November 2000

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 
by Dave Eggers.
Picador, 415 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 0 330 48454 0
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... that pseudo-autobiographical mode in which Americans excel, The Tao of Muhammad Ali (1997), Davis Miller recalled a conversation with Ali: ‘I’ve wanted to write for years. Like you, when you threw your gold medal off the bridge, I threw my beeper in the river and quit my job so I could write.’ ‘I never did that,’ he says. ‘Did what?’ I ...

A Very Modern Man

Edmund Gordon: William Boyd, 8 March 2012

Waiting for Sunrise 
by William Boyd.
Bloomsbury, 368 pp., £18.99, February 2012, 978 1 4088 1774 2
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... War from Barcelona (where he gets drunk with Hemingway), is recruited to Naval Intelligence by Ian Fleming and dispatched to Portugal to spy on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, becomes a prisoner of war in Switzerland, takes a job running an art gallery in New York (which brings him into contact with de Kooning and Pollock), gets caught up in the Biafran ...

Inside the Barrel

Brent Hayes Edwards: The French Slave Trade, 10 September 2009

Memoires des esclavages: la fondation d’un centre national pour la memoire des esclavages et de leurs abolitions 
by Edouard Glissant.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €14.90, May 2007, 978 2 07 078554 4
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The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade 
by Christopher Miller.
Duke, 571 pp., £20.99, March 2008, 978 0 8223 4151 2
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... imagine Toni Morrison or Caryl Phillips being asked to take charge of such matters. As Christopher Miller points out in The French Atlantic Triangle, in France ‘literature was one of the most important battlegrounds for the debate on slavery.’ But in spite of the wealth of scholarship on the Atlantic slave trade, surprisingly little work has been ...

Come here, Botham

Paul Foot, 9 October 1986

High, Wide and Handsome. Ian Botham: The Story of a Very Special Year 
by Frank Keating.
Collins, 218 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 00 218226 2
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... world. After Sobers, who? Some Australians who grew up when I did argue with some force for Keith Miller. As Frank Keating’s book proves, however, Miller can quickly be rejected for second place. It goes, unquestionably, to Ian Botham. Indeed in one crucial respect, Botham beats even ...

Severals

Ian Hacking, 11 June 1992

First Person Plural: Multiple Personality and the Philosophy of Mind 
by Stephen Braude.
Routledge, 283 pp., £35, October 1991, 0 415 03591 0
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... the London Review, and analysed in that amazingly many-layered book Doubles by its co-editor, Karl Miller. But something new and strange has been happening in North America – a veritable epidemic of multiple personalities. It began about 1972. It was called an epidemic by one psychiatrist in an essay published in 1982. By 1992 the disorder is ...

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