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Jonathan Lear, 19 September 1985

Human Agency and Language. Philosophical Papers: Vol I 
by Charles Taylor.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 521 26752 8
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Philosophy and the Human Science. Philosophical Papers: Vol II 
by Charles Taylor.
Cambridge, 340 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 521 26753 6
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... Charles Taylor is, by his own admission, a hedgehog. Though the essays in these two volumes range over a variety of topics – the concept of a person, meaning, the value of cognitive psychology, sexuality as a mode of political control – they all argue for one basic idea: that the conceptions of objectivity and scientific method which we have inherited from the 17th century are unable to give us an account of ourselves ...

Can the virtuous person exist in the modern world?

Jonathan Lear: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Virtues, 2 November 2006

The Tasks of Philosophy: Selected Essays, Vol. I 
by Alasdair MacIntyre.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £40, June 2006, 0 521 67061 6
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Ethics and Politics: Selected Essays, Vol. II 
by Alasdair MacIntyre.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £40, June 2006, 0 521 67062 4
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... If there is a single theme running through these essays it is the importance of our commitment to truth. Not just to the truth about ourselves and our relations with others, or to the truth about the world: our commitment must be to the concept of truth as central to human wellbeing. This, of course, runs counter to one of the philosophical clichés of our time: that there is no such thing as objective truth, that truth is a superstition we no longer need and would be better off without ...

Sharing Secrets

Jonathan Lear: Christopher Bollas, 11 March 2010

The Evocative Object World 
by Christopher Bollas.
Routledge, 126 pp., £13.50, October 2008, 978 0 415 47394 1
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The Infinite Question 
by Christopher Bollas.
Routledge, 192 pp., £13.50, October 2008, 978 0 415 47392 7
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... Christopher Bollas is perhaps the most prolific and widely read psychoanalytic author at work today. It’s easy to see why this should be so. His books are written in a conversational style that quickly establishes a friendly, frank relation with his reader, and he exudes the confidence of a master practitioner: he is above all a man of (clinical) experience ...

Reasons for Living

Adam Phillips: On Being Understood, 12 November 1998

Open-Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul 
by Jonathan Lear.
Harvard, 345 pp., £21.95, May 1998, 0 674 45533 9
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... realise. We don’t merely change over time, we (more grandly) grow. In this collection of essays Jonathan Lear, a philosopher and a psychoanalyst, wants to show us that it is what he calls the ‘logic of the soul’ to want open-mindedness; and this is because, in his view (and in the tradition of psychoanalysis that he values), the logic of the soul ...

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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... twenty years Agate’s senior. ‘We have each our private ideal of Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, Lear,’ said Archer. ‘Every actor who undertakes them has to pass through a triple ordeal, encountering, first our imagination, kindled by Shakespeare; second our idealised memory of performances which used to please our, perhaps, unripe judgment; third our ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... commonsensical approach to the text, still exerts a palpable influence on Shakespeare scholars: Jonathan Bate’s introduction to this new edition of the Complete Works makes regular appeals to Johnson’s authority and Johnson’s precedent. The differences between the circumstances and the procedures of the two editions, however, are at least as revealing ...


John Bayley, 22 March 1990

Hazlitt: A Life. From Winterslow to Frith Street 
by Stanley Jones.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 812840 1
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Shakespearean Constitutions: Politics, Theatre, Criticism 1730-1830 
by Jonathan Bate.
Oxford, 234 pp., £27, September 1989, 0 19 811749 3
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... in Hazlitt’s own outlook and essays. ‘The Example of Hazlitt’ occupies the second part of Jonathan Bate’s book, by far its longest section, and the whole literary atmosphere of Regency London, seen through Hazlitt’s eyes and those of his two critics, is alive with Shakespearean character and quotation, with the wiles of Shylock and the arrogance ...

Crawling towards God

Jonathan Parry, 10 November 1994

The Gladstone Diaries, with Cabinet Minutes and Prime-Ministerial Correspondence. Vol. XII: 1887-1891 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 535 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820463 9
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The Gladstone Diaries, with Cabinet Minutes and Prime-Ministerial Correspondence. Vol. XIII: 1892-1896 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 486 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820464 7
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The Gladstone Diaries, with Cabinet Minutes and Prime-Ministerial Correspondence. Vol. XIV: Index 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 862 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820465 5
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... the only work which he records as reading on three separate occasions in these last years is King Lear: ‘Marvellous!’ But he had no delusions about his power on earth. He knew that he was as dominant, and was in the eyes of many as god-like, as Lear had been. This awareness requires us to tread carefully in interpreting ...

Shakespeare and the Literary Police

Jonathan Bate, 29 September 1988

The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. V: Lectures 1808-1819 On Literature 
edited by R.A. Foakes.
Princeton/Routledge, 604 pp., £55, December 1987, 0 691 09872 7
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... and responding to the language of passion with marvellous intensity (his note to himself on Lear’s ‘reason not the need’ reads: ‘The tranquillity from the first stun permitting Lear to REASON – recite this’). But the edition is a monument to a kind of criticism the premises of which now look ...

Players, please

Jonathan Bate, 6 December 1984

The Oxford Book of War Poetry 
edited by Jon Stallworthy.
Oxford, 358 pp., £9.50, September 1984, 0 19 214125 2
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Secret Destinations 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 69 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 333 38268 4
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Fast Forward 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211967 2
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Dark Glasses 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 71 pp., £3.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2875 5
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... to the end.’ Lyrics such as ‘Grange Boy’ and ‘Dark Glasses’, with its epigraph from King Lear (‘And take upon’s the mystery of things / As if we were God’s spies’), prepare us for the previously unpublished long poem that occupies the second half of the book. Its title is ‘The Inquisitor’, an allusion to Browning’s poem about a ...
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... statement of intent. The essays concentrate on Henry IV, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, King Lear and The Tempest. Greenblatt’s method is to juxtapose famous ‘literary’ texts with lesser-known, ‘non-literary’ texts, such as Jacques Duval’s Des Hermaphrodits (1603), Samuel Harsnett’s A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (also ...

Short Cuts

Jacqueline Rose: My Evening with Farage, 24 October 2013

... power, to bend the world to one’s will. When Farage travelled to Bulgaria earlier this year with Jonathan Rugman for a Channel 4 News special report, what was most striking was how far he was trapped by his own style. He smiles a lot, and laughs, especially when he thinks he has been clever, as, for example, when he points to the former Communist Party ...

Gabble, Twitter and Hoot

Ian Hacking: Language, deafness and the senses, 1 July 1999

I See a Voice: A Philosophical History of Language, Deafness and the Senses 
by Jonathan Rée.
HarperCollins, 399 pp., £19.99, January 1999, 0 00 255793 2
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... Jonathan Rée takes some tomfoolery from Shakespeare for his title and uses it to create his own striking metaphor. The middle part of his book is about sign languages for the deaf: voices that one sees. The same trope served Oliver Sacks in Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf (1989), but there is more to it than that for Rée ...

Puck’s Dream

Mark Ford, 14 June 1990

Selected Poems 1990 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 176 pp., £6.95, March 1990, 0 19 282625 5
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Life by Other Means: Essays on D.J. Enright 
edited by Jacqueline Simms.
Oxford, 208 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 19 212989 9
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Vanishing Lung Syndrome 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by David Young and Dana Habova.
Faber, 68 pp., £10.99, April 1990, 0 571 14378 4
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The Dimension of the Present Moment, and Other Essays 
by Miroslav Holub, edited by David Young.
Faber, 146 pp., £4.99, April 1990, 0 571 14338 5
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Poems Before and After: Collected English Translations 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by Ewald Osers and George Theiner.
Bloodaxe, 272 pp., £16, April 1990, 1 85224 121 7
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My Country: Collected Poems 
by Alistair Elliot.
Carcanet, 175 pp., £18.95, November 1989, 0 85635 846 0
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1953: A Version of Racine’s ‘Andromaque’ 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 571 14312 1
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by Jean Racine, translated by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £4.99, March 1990, 0 571 14249 4
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... one of Enright’s touchstones, records how he was so shocked by Cordelia’s death in King Lear that he could never bear to reread the play’s last scenes until forced to as a Shakespeare editor. In ‘Poetical Justice’ Enright’s speaker presents himself as similarly disturbed by tragedy’s unfairness: It will be many years before I read again ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don Quixote with eagle nose and jaw, who had persuaded the burly Yorkshireman as they set out for the crease together not to wear batting gloves, which were ...

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