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Enlightenment’s Errand Boy

David A. Bell: The Philosophes and the Republic of Letters, 22 May 2003

Calvet’s Web: Enlightenment and the Republic of Letters in 18th-Century France 
by L.W.B. Brockliss.
Oxford, 471 pp., £55, July 2002, 9780199247486
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The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon 
by Colin Jones.
Allen Lane, 651 pp., £25, August 2002, 0 7139 9039 2
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... story of the Enlightenment’s steady diffusion outwards from its Parisian source. In the 1960s, Peter Gay gave them new power in his brilliant extended essay The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. Gay recognised the international dimensions of the Enlightenment, and included Scots, English, Germans and Italians as ...

History as a Bunch of Flowers

James Davidson: Jacob Burckhardt, 20 August 1998

The Greeks and Greek Civilisation 
by Jacob Burckhardt, edited by Oswyn Murray, translated by Sheila Stern.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £24.99, May 1998, 0 00 255855 6
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... so coolly or callously, and so at odds with what we know of his own quiet lifestyle that led Peter Gay to describe Burckhardt as an intellectual voluptuary. The founders of the new history may have seen a foreshadowing in Burckhardt, but it was Durkheim they modelled themselves on. The latter’s objective approach, which demanded a hard society of ...

At the Jeu de Paume

Brian Dillon: Peter Hujar, 19 December 2019

... The​ American photographer Peter Hujar once told a friend who was feeling unattractive: ‘As you’re walking along, say to yourself: I’m me.’ Hujar’s subjects seem to have heeded the same advice: they exhibit a self-possession tending to the monumental. You can see it in his 1981 portrait of the actor Madeline Kahn ...

Sex in the head

Roy Porter, 7 July 1988

The History of Sexuality. Vol. III: The Care of Self 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Allen Lane, 279 pp., £17.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9002 3
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... ecclesiastical savoir-pouvoir did to pleasure may, in one sense, be called ultra-conventional. As Peter Gay emphasised so well in his The Enlightenment, radical philosophes hated the Church above all for its sexual mutilation of mankind. Christian dirty-mindedness (Diderot has his wise Tahitian say) had turned innocent desire into a crime. Thereafter the ...

Can there be such a thing as music criticism?

John Deathridge, 20 February 1986

Music and Civilisation: Essays in Honour of Paul Henry Lang 
edited by Edmond Strainchamps, Maria Rika Maniates and Christopher Hatch.
Norton, 499 pp., £35, March 1985, 0 393 01677 3
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The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-1914 
edited by Kay Dreyfus.
Macmillan, 542 pp., £25, December 1985, 0 333 38085 1
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Musicology 
by Joseph Kerman.
Collins/Fontana, 255 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 00 197170 0
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... structure and syntax, not to mention his public scolding of non-musicological colleagues like Peter Gay and Morse Peckham for botched attempts to write about musical language coherently, are still too little known. But the reason why criticism on this high level did not get much further than the pages of the Princeton-based journal Perspectives in ...

Domestic Disaffection

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 10 June 1993

Dearest Beloved: The Hawthornes and the Making of the Middle-Class Family 
by Walter Herbert.
California, 351 pp., $28, April 1993, 0 520 07587 0
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... never can taste the joy of Elysium, because it is a spiritual joy & they cannot perceive it. When Peter Gay wrote about the sensual life of the Victorians, he cited the Hawthornes as an exemplary pair, remarking how their talk of ‘holy’ kisses sanctified their evident delight in the satisfactions of the flesh. But Herbert is more inclined to ...

Mother’s Boys

David A. Bell, 10 June 1993

The Family Romance of the French Revolution 
by Lynn Hunt.
Routledge, 220 pp., £19.99, September 1992, 0 415 08236 6
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... of them rejected all historical applications of psychoanalysis as inherently unreliable. Yet as Peter Gay has aptly pointed out, insofar as every historian operates with a theory of human nature, every historian is inescapably an amateur psychologist. The choice is not whether to use psychology or not, but whether to borrow the insights of professional ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... of the shifts and retractions she comments on.) Several faculty members (including Daniel Bell and Peter Gay) left Columbia because of the student uprising and the generally benign faculty response to it, while the Congress for Cultural Freedom sputtered on for I don’t know how long. Most of the ‘liberal anti-Communists’ of the Fifties and Sixties ...

The Housekeeper of a World-Shattering Theory

Jenny Diski: Mrs Freud, 23 March 2006

Martha Freud: A Biography 
by Katja Behling, translated by R.D.V. Glasgow.
Polity, 206 pp., £25, January 2006, 0 7456 3338 2
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... if she didn’t seem to have been perfectly content with her existence. In his biography of Freud, Peter Gay quotes Martha’s reply to a letter of condolence after Freud’s death that it was ‘a feeble consolation that in the 53 years of our marriage there was not a single angry word between us, and that I always tried as much as possible to remove the ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... devotion’. His essay was written around 1932, a long time before any clear view emerged of the gay writer’s place in literary tradition, and before the idea emerged that Irish, Jewish or gay (or, later, South American) writing was itself the centre rather than the periphery renewing the centre. Borges was, in many ...

Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 4 August 1988

Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... of Sporting Ladies (c. 1770) is typical of many entries from whores’ directories included by Peter Wagner in Eros Revived. Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, published regularly between 1760 and the early 1790s, prided itself on providing up-to-date information for the sporting gentlemen of London, including full details of starting prices and hot ...

Brother-Making

James Davidson, 8 February 1996

The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe 
by John Boswell.
Fontana, 412 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 00 686326 4
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... impossibility – of rivers flowing backwards and cattle grazing at sea, fish feeding on dry land, gay men getting married: Shades of our ancestors! Is it a moral reformer we need, or an augur Of evil omens? Would you be more horrified, or think it A more ghastly portent, if women calved, or cows Gave birth to lambs? as Juvenal put it (with thanks to ...

Join the club

Richard Hornsey: A new queer history of London, 7 September 2006

Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis 1918-57 
by Matt Houlbrook.
Chicago, 384 pp., £20.50, September 2005, 0 226 35460 1
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... to David Furnish last year – even the Daily Express managed to celebrate it as a ‘triumph for gay rights’ – in the Windsor Guildhall, where Charles had married Camilla only eight months before. Having arrived in the same year as the Civil Partnership Register, Matt Houlbrook’s impressive study of queer life in London between 1918 and 1957 does much ...

Lucky Boy

Kevin Kopelson, 3 April 1997

Shine 
directed by Scott Hicks.
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Shine: The Screenplay 
by Jan Sardi.
Bloomsbury, 176 pp., £7.99, January 1997, 0 7475 3173 0
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The Book of David 
by Beverley Eley.
HarperCollins, 285 pp., £8.99, March 1997, 0 207 19105 0
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Love You to Bits and Pieces: Life with David Helfgott 
by Gillian Helfgott, with Alissa Tanskaya.
Penguin, 337 pp., £6.99, January 1997, 0 14 026546 5
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... apply as well to Helfgott’s more obvious precursor – the Mozart (both pianist and composer) Peter Schaffer presented in Amadeus (1979). His first words, addressed to Constanze, were even cattier than Helfgott’s: ‘Miaouw! I’m going to pounce-bounce! I’m going to scrunch-munch! I’m going to chew-poo my little mouse-wouse!’ The Shine screenplay ...

Curriculum Vitae

Peter Robb, 2 May 1985

... Despite a new paralysis – my back –Am stirred, perhaps, to mine the new resource,Put down my worn suitcases and unpack.[Publications]Reader, should I turn another page?Fly off to somewhere, maybe even worse?Or limp serenely into middle ageAnd try to flog this flimsy book of verse? [c/o Fig Tree PocketQldAustraliaphotopies ofrelevantdocumentati ...

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