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How philosophers live

James Miller, 8 September 1994

A Pitch of Philosophy: Autobiographical Exercises 
by Stanley Cavell.
Harvard, 196 pp., £20.75, July 1994, 0 674 66980 0
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... Then he met J.L. Austin. In 1955, the Oxford philosopher came to Harvard to deliver the William James Lectures, later published as How to Do Things with Words. At the time, Austin was the pre-eminent representative of so-called ‘ordinary language philosophy’, a form of analysis focused not on logic, but rather on the everyday use of everyday ...

Thinking without a Banister

James Miller, 19 October 1995

Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger 
by Elzbieta Ettinger.
Yale, 139 pp., £10.95, October 1995, 0 300 06407 1
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Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954: Uncollected and Unpublished Works 
by Hannah Arendt, edited by Jerome Kohn.
Harcourt Brace, 458 pp., $39.95, May 1994, 0 15 172817 8
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Hannah Arendt: A Reinterpretation of Her Political Thought 
by Margaret Canovan.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £12.95, September 1995, 0 521 47773 5
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Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy 
edited by Carol Brightman.
Secker, 412 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 436 20251 4
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Hannah Arendt/Karl Jaspers: Correspondence, 1926-1969 
edited by Lotte Kohler and Hans Saner, translated by Robert and Rita Kimber.
Harcourt Brace, 821 pp., $49.95, November 1992, 0 15 107887 4
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... Twenty years after her death, and nearly half a century after The Origins of Totalitarianism established her international reputation, Hannah Arendt looms larger than ever – as a philosopher, as a political theorist, as an exemplary analyst of history. Jürgen Habermas has expressed admiration for her, as have avowed Post-Modernists, who share her declared freedom from metaphysical and moral presuppositions ...

Unhappy Man

P.N. Furbank, 22 July 1993

The Lives of Michel Foucault 
by David Macey.
Hutchinson, 599 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 09 175344 9
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The Passion of Michel Foucault 
by James Miller.
HarperCollins, 491 pp., £18, June 1993, 0 00 255267 1
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... that it reinstated a godlike Cartesian cogito. ‘From the theoretical point of view,’ James Miller quotes him as saying, ‘Sartre avoids the idea of the self as something which is given to us; but through the moral notion of authenticity, he turns back to the idea that we have to be ourselves – to be truly our self.’ One feels inclined ...

Hyacinth Boy

Mark Ford: T.S. Eliot, 21 September 2006

T.S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet 
by James E. Miller.
Pennsylvania State, 468 pp., £29.95, August 2005, 0 271 02681 2
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The Annotated ‘Waste Land’ with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose 
by T.S. Eliot, edited by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 270 pp., $35, April 2005, 0 300 09743 3
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Revisiting ‘The Waste Land’ 
by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 203 pp., £22.50, May 2005, 0 300 10707 2
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... Tristan und Isolde suggests: ‘Öd’ und leer das Meer’ (‘Desolate and empty the sea’). James Miller was the first critic inspired by Peter’s speculations and the appearance of the drafts to attempt a thorough outing of Eliot. His T.S. Eliot’s Personal Waste Land (1977) offered ‘new interpretations’ of much of Eliot’s early ...

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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... dichotomy between the ‘rational’ and the ‘irrational’ (now brilliantly dissected by Susan James in The Content of Social Explanation). The other device for preserving the integrity of an alien culture is descriptive. Whatever interpretation is given to it, the sheer fact that certain people in 18th-century France found killing cats on such a scale ...

Who’s under the desk?

Siddhartha Deb: James Lasdun’s Novel, 7 March 2002

The Horned Man 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 195 pp., £10.99, February 2002, 0 224 06217 4
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... At the beginning of James Lasdun’s novel, Lawrence Miller, a professor of gender studies at a college on the outskirts of New York, is interrupted while reading a book. When he returns to his office the next day, he finds his bookmark has been moved forward thirty pages. ‘Either I had moved the marker inadvertently myself, or else some night-visitor had been reading the book in my absence ...

The Whole Secret of Clive James

Karl Miller, 22 May 1980

Unreliable Memoirs 
by Clive James.
Cape, 171 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 224 01825 6
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... of suburban settlement. This was surely one of the most interesting programmes that Clive James could have seen in the course of his duties as the Observer’s television critic, but he did not have much to say about it on the Sunday in question, preferring – with his usual outrageous critical severity – to lay into Lindsay Anderson for his ...

The Wrong Blond

Alan Bennett, 23 May 1985

Auden in Love 
by Dorothy Farnan.
Faber, 264 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 571 13399 1
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... gave a reading at the Keynote Club in Manhattan. Kallman and another Brooklyn student, Walter James Miller, were in the audience, with Kallman sitting in the front row giving the two international pederasts the glad eye. Afterwards he and Miller went backstage. Miller was ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Myths of Marilyn, 8 July 2004

... the list of people who’ve given it a go: her New York maid (Lena Pepitone), two of her husbands (James Dougherty, Arthur Miller), her half-sister (Berniece Miracle), her stalkers (Robert Slatzer, James Haspiel), her saviours (Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett), her driver of one summer (Colin ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... The Hazlitt of our time’, said the Manchester Guardian, announcing the death of JamesAgate in 1947. An extravagant compliment, but the famous theatre reviewer did have one or two of Hazlitt’s characteristics. Though his journalism now seems too pompous-frivolous even for the theatre world, his reports of actors’ performances are often vivid and persuasive: he was quite learned in his subject and could communicate his own enthusiasm, making drama seem important – more important, perhaps, than it seems to us today ...

Beastliness

Harry Ricketts, 16 March 1989

Rudyard Kipling 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Macdonald, 373 pp., £16.95, February 1989, 0 356 15852 7
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... Speculation, Leon Edel remarks in his one-volume life of Henry James, is ‘the stock-in-trade of all biographers’. But if all biographers speculate, some do so more scrupulously and convincingly than others. Edel, for instance, is both meticulous and plausible. The same can hardly be said of Martin Seymour-Smith in his new critical biography of Kipling ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg, 18 November 2004

The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... On a winter’s evening in 1803, James Hogg turned up for dinner at the home of Walter Scott. The man his host liked to call ‘the honest grunter’ was shown into the drawing-room, where a pregnant Mrs Scott was resting on a sofa. Unsure of the protocol in these toney surroundings, and deciding to take his cue from the hostess, Hogg flopped onto an adjoining sofa, smirching the chintz with his dung-spattered boots ...

Ranklings

Philip Horne, 30 August 1990

Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... known, among other things, as the teller of the most devastating of the anecdotes displaying Henry James’s incapacity to communicate efficiently. The story told in her 1933 autobiography, A Backward Glance, has James, late one evening, attempt to ask a doddering Windsor pedestrian how their car can find its way to the ...

Inside Mr Shepherd

James Wood: In conversation with Jane Austen, 4 November 2004

Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation 
by Bharat Tandon.
Anthem, 303 pp., £45, March 2003, 1 84331 101 1
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Jane Austen, or The Secret of Style 
by D.A. Miller.
Princeton, 108 pp., £12.95, September 2003, 0 691 09075 0
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... seems to value, and to read the novels along their grain (yet with very delicate fingerings). D.A. Miller is amorously sceptical, suspicious of the novels’ apparently contradictory gestures, and keen to read them against their grain (but precisely because the grain delights him). Both love Austen, and both want to make space in their criticism for ...

‘I thirst for his blood’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James, 25 November 1999

Henry JamesA Life in Letters 
edited by Philip Horne.
Penguin, 668 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7139 9126 7
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A Private Life of Henry JamesTwo Women and His Art 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 500 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6166 3
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... Henry James was a generous correspondent in more senses than one, but his fellow writers may have found some of the Master’s letters rather exasperating. ‘I read your current novel with pleasure,’ he wrote to William Dean Howells in 1880, ‘but I don’t think the subject fruitful, & I suspect that much of the public will agree with me ...

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