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Mysterian

Jackson Lears: On Chomsky, 4 May 2017

Why Only Us: Language and Evolution 
by Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky.
MIT, 215 pp., £18.95, February 2016, 978 0 262 03424 1
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Because We Say So 
by Noam Chomsky.
Penguin, 199 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 0 241 97248 9
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What Kind of Creatures Are We? 
by Noam Chomsky.
Columbia, 167 pp., £17, January 2016, 978 0 231 17596 8
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Who Rules the World? 
by Noam Chomsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 307 pp., £18.99, May 2016, 978 0 241 18943 6
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Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals 
by Neil Smith and Nicholas Allott.
Cambridge, 461 pp., £18.99, January 2016, 978 1 107 44267 2
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... have been inferences based on intuitions, in particular the intuition that certain sentences (‘John speaks fluently English’), though understandable, are nonetheless ‘in some way bad’, as Neil Smith and Nicholas Allott put it in their study of Chomsky, and that the ability to sense this badness is innate. Another piece of evidence for innateness, on ...

What to call her?

Jenny Diski, 9 October 2014

... cartoon, but before he could finish what sounded uncannily like the solicitor’s speech in John Osborne’s play Inadmissible Evidence, a year or so later, Doris grabbed my sleeve and we escaped down the winding wooden staircase, with the sound of his voice echoing behind us. In addition, my mother had one of her screaming fits and threatened to sue ...

Grey Eminence

Edward Said, 5 March 1981

Walter Lippmann and the American Century 
by Ronald Steel.
Bodley Head, 669 pp., £8.95, February 1981, 0 370 30376 8
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... riding a goat cart in Central Park’ before going off to Harvard, where his classmates included John Reed, T.S. Eliot and Conrad Aiken. From birth to death, Fortune – in the form of knowing nearly everyone who counted and being able to defend at least two sides of every major public issue of his time – always favoured him. The list of his friends, his ...

Nohow, Worstward, Withersoever

Patrick Parrinder, 9 November 1989

Stirrings Still 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 25 pp., £1,000, March 1989, 0 7145 4142 7
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Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 128 pp., £10.95, February 1989, 0 7145 4111 7
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‘Make sense who may’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works 
edited by Robin Davis and Lance Butler.
Smythe, 175 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 86140 286 3
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... magnificent services to Beckett’s readers over the years one would not begrudge the publisher, John Calder (‘I finally arrived at Dover last Sunday with TV cameras waiting for me, the precious copies in my car,’ he confided in the Guardian when Stirrings Still was printed there), his moment of glory.Stirrings Still, in three parts, uses the now classic ...

Too Important to Kill

Adam Shatz: Real Men Go to Tehran, 23 January 2020

... the most tenacious champions of Trump’s decision have been the neoconservatives, from John Bolton to Paul Wolfowitz, who took us to war in Iraq. In the National Review, John Yoo, author of the torture memos, defended the legality of the assassination; Thomas Friedman predicted in the New York Times that ...

Is it Art?

John Lanchester: Video games, 1 January 2009

... and more thrilling than its Hollywood competitors, because it’s more involving. It’s not Jason Bourne shooting and being shot at, it’s you – and by the way, the idea that these games encourage fantasies of invulnerability is, it seems to me, wrong. Even playing them on the easiest setting, you the player are killed, and often, which is frustrating and ...

Sheep don’t read barcodes

Glen Newey: ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, 22 March 2012

Thinking, Fast and Slow 
by Daniel Kahneman.
Allen Lane, 499 pp., £25, November 2011, 978 1 84614 055 6
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... what amounts to the same schedule of risks. This spells a bad day for the project pioneered by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern in the mid-20th century, of creating univocal preference functions for individual economic actors based on their revealed preferences. Someone who prefers one outcome to another when it’s presented in one way, but reverses ...

Porringers and Pitkins

Keith Thomas: The Early Modern Household, 5 July 2018

A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 
by Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson.
Yale, 311 pp., £40, October 2017, 978 0 300 19501 9
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... architecture. It was completed after his death (in 1852) by another architectural historian, John Henry Parker, who also drew on it for Our English Home: Its Early History and Progress (1860). Despite this encouraging start, the emergence in the later 19th and early 20th centuries of modern history as a university subject did nothing to advance the study ...

One Night in Maidenhead

Jean McNicol, 30 October 1997

Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall: Kindred Spirits 
by Terry Castle.
Columbia, 150 pp., £15.95, November 1996, 0 231 10596 7
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Your JohnThe Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall 
edited by Joanne Glasgow.
New York, 273 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 8147 3092 2
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Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John 
by Sally Cline.
Murray, 434 pp., £25, June 1997, 9780719554087
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... an unmistakable resemblance to Coward. Hall’s heroine Stephen Gordon (Radclyffe Hall was called John for most of her adult life) knows that Brockett, a playwright with soft white hands and an effeminate voice, is a man ‘who would never require more of her than she could give’. When they visit Versailles together he talks to her about Marie Antoinette ...

Lace the air with LSD

Mike Jay: Brain Warfare, 4 February 2021

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control 
by Stephen Kinzer.
Henry Holt, 384 pp., £11.99, November 2020, 978 1 250 76262 7
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... it had been destroyed.As it turned out, however, there was much more to come. In the late 1970s, John Marks, a journalist who specialised in intelligence matters, filed a Freedom of Information request that uncovered a trove of 16,000 documents, most of which hadn’t been sent for shredding because they were filed as financial records. In the course of ...

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

The Poems of Browning. Vol. I: 1826-1840 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin.
Longman, 797 pp., £60, April 1991, 0 582 48100 7
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The Poems of Browning. Vol. II: 1841-1846 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin .
Longman, 581 pp., £50, April 1991, 9780582063990
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... as Ezra Pound’s ‘Duke Liu’: Duke Liu, the frank, unhoused, unhapped, from bound to bourne put all barned corn in sacks and ration bags for glorious use, stretched bow showed shield, lance, dagger-axe and squared to the open road. Of course the Browningesque cadences are not replicated; they are a murmur in the background, for those who have ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... example, author, with her husband, of My Boy Jack? The Search for Kipling’s Only Son (1998). (John Kipling died in his first half-hour in action – at the age of 18 – at Loos in 1915. Though his stricken father carried on a 20-year search for his grave, his remains were not found until 1992.) When not writing, the Holts run a sprightly operation known ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... and they were numerous, included both Fitzgeralds, the New York society hostess Muriel Draper, John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, Nancy Mitford, Dawn Powell, even Mary McCarthy, whose rivalrousness towards other intellectual women is legendary. The fact that Murphy seems to have been one of the kindliest people on earth no doubt only magnified her ...

NHS SOS

James Meek, 5 April 2018

... store. On midsummer’s night in 1955 a tall, broad-shouldered farmer 17 years her senior, John Warren, took her to the stock car racing, and a year later, when Wendy was 21, they got married. John Warren rented 175 acres from the local squire in Dunton Bassett, a village in the south-west of the county. He’d been ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Education: Who’s in charge?, 7 May 2015

... got to pick the school’s name: Mossbourne is named after the father of its late sponsor, Clive Bourne. Adonis and Blunkett saw academies as a way of kick-starting the regeneration of struggling schools, usually in economically depressed areas, which had become so overwhelmed by so many problems, that the best thing seemed to be to hoover out their innards ...

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