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The Crisis in Economic Theory

Jon Elster, 20 October 1983

An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change 
by Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter.
Harvard, 437 pp., £20, October 1982, 0 674 27227 7
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A General Theory of Exploitation and Class 
by John Roemer.
Harvard, 298 pp., £22, September 1982, 0 674 34440 5
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... towards the construction of plausible alternatives to the neo-classical mode of theorising. Nelson and Winter offer an ‘evolutionary’ alternative which derives in equal amounts from Schumpeter and Simon. From the first they take the idea that competition is a process that involves winners and losers, not just a feature of markets which have so many ...

At the Duveen Galleries

Brian Dillon: ‘The Asset Strippers’, 18 July 2019

... You enter​ Mike Nelson’s installation The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain’s latest commission for its Duveen Galleries (until 6 October), through a pair of wooden swing doors salvaged from the old Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on Bolsover Street. For several years, Nelson has been acquiring industrial machinery and related artefacts from online auctions and liquidation sales; the first object in the exhibition is a wheeled pneumatic paint sprayer: a thing of tubes and cylinders, coiled rubber hose and steel nozzle, all caked in dark red paint ...

Plenty of Puff

Charles West: Charlemagne, 9 December 2019

King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne 
by Janet Nelson.
Allen Lane, 704 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 7139 9243 4
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... set for European unity. An early version of the EEC was dubbed the ‘Union Charlemagne’ by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in his 1950 speech accepting the inaugural Charlemagne prize, awarded by the city of Aachen every subsequent year to those who have advanced the cause of European unity. Receiving the award in 2018, Emmanuel Macron employed a ...

More than ever, and for ever

Michael Rogin: Beauvoir and Nelson Algren, 17 September 1998

Beloved Chicago Man: Letters to Nelson Algren 1947-64 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gollancz, 624 pp., £25, August 1998, 0 575 06590 7
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America Day by Day 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Carol Cosman.
California, 355 pp., $27.50, January 1999, 0 520 20979 6
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... American literature. It was French condescension that celebrated Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dos Passos, Richard Wright, Erskine Caldwell, Dashiel Hammett and James M. Cain, Beauvoir was told, when the United States had its own sophisticated tradition of internal, psychological exploration; she was witnessing the formation of the American Studies canon ...

The Wonderfulness of Us

Richard J. Evans: The Tory Interpretation of History, 17 March 2011

... including Henry II and Becket, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, Charles II and William III, Nelson and Wellington, Gladstone and Disraeli. In addition to the three British courses, students have to take one period of European history before 1914, and two world history courses, one involving an ancient society such as China or Japan, the other focusing ...

Undertellers

Walter Nash, 18 February 1988

The Panda Hunt 
by Richard Burns.
Cape, 189 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02445 0
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Davy Chadwick 
by James Buchan.
Hamish Hamilton, 145 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 241 12115 9
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Overhead in a Balloon: Stories of Paris 
by Mavis Gallant.
Cape, 196 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02426 4
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Black Idol 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 157 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 9780224024372
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... Dawn Chadwick, and their old friend (or acceptable enemy, depending how you read it), William Nelson. These people are all failures, all refugees, all victims. Chadwick is a failed stockbroker. Nelson is a man in what used to be known as ‘reduced circumstances’: a failure in banking, a refugee from the nightmare ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miami Vice’, 17 August 2006

Miami Vice 
directed by Michael Mann.
August 2006
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... often look like music videos, an effect enhanced by guest appearances from Phil Collins, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Miles Davis and many others. But the other, complementary theory of the series’ origin names a news story about vice cops using repossessed goods as a glossy cover for their assumed criminal ...

Francine-Machine

Jonathan Rée: Automata, 9 May 2002

Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen 
by Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak.
Getty, 416 pp., £30, February 2002, 0 89236 590 0
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The Secret Life of Puppets 
by Victoria Nelson.
Harvard, 350 pp., £20.50, February 2002, 0 674 00630 5
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Living Dolls: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life 
by Gaby Wood.
Faber, 278 pp., £12.99, March 2002, 0 571 17879 0
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... so much as the tales we weave around them. These doll-stories form the topic of Victoria Nelson’s pioneering and wide-ranging book The Secret Life of Puppets. Nelson has Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft rubbing shoulders with Kafka and Bruno Schulz, and Will Self and Lars von Trier with Carrington and Anna ...

A Sense of Humour in Daddy’s Presence

J.L. Nelson: Medieval Europe, 5 June 2003

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe 
by Patrick Geary.
Princeton, £11.95, March 2003, 0 691 09054 8
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Europe in the High Middle Ages 
by William Chester Jordan.
Penguin, 383 pp., £9.99, August 2002, 0 14 016664 5
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... because it’s been notably well covered in recent and not so recent historiography. The late Richard Southern’s The Making of the Middle Ages presented an integrated vision of the 11th and 12th centuries that has worn remarkably well. Given Jordan’s own research into the reign of Louis IX and the 13th-century Crusades, it comes as no surprise to find ...

Kripke versus Kant

Richard Rorty, 4 September 1980

Naming and Necessity 
by Saul Kripke.
Blackwell, 172 pp., £7.95, May 1980, 0 631 10151 9
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... that we make worlds as we make poems and pictures – a thought which finds full expression in Nelson Goodman’s recent Ways of Worldmaking. Kripke tries to sober us up by denying that meaning determines reference. Rather, we name things by confronting them and baptising them, not by creating them out of a list of qualities. Names are not, pace ...

Public Enemy

R.W. Johnson, 26 November 1987

Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Richard Gid Powers.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £16.95, August 1987, 0 02 925060 9
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... security. He’s the only one you can put your complete trust in’: thus Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon, 1968. It is not often that a book casts fresh light on American history throughout this century, but this biography of Edgar Hoover does just that. Not only was Hoover, as head of the FBI, America’s leading policeman: he enjoyed an extraordinary ...

Locke rules

Ian Hacking, 21 November 1991

Locke. Vol. I: Epistemology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06406 6
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Locke. Vol. II: Ontology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06407 4
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... set an agenda which after three centuries shows no signs of fading. It is partly a matter of tone. Nelson Goodman, the senior representative of American pragmatism, speaks of his own ‘sceptical, analytical and constructionalist orientation’. Locke could have described himself in exactly the same way. Locke and Newton were the paired heroes of the French ...

On Roy Fisher

August Kleinzahler, 28 June 2017

... on the South Side from James Farrell’s trilogy; the block of South Drexel where Bigger Thomas in Richard Wright’s Native Son killed and incinerated his rich employer’s daughter; Nelson Algren’s Division Street; the train station where Louis Armstrong was met by King Oliver’; and the Panther Room of the Sherman ...

No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair, 2 November 2006

A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... Where else does an argument about illegality and injustice go? When in 1869 the Boston lawyer Richard Dana added a postscript to his celebrated narrative Two Years before the Mast, reflecting on the brutality which he had witnessed a quarter of a century earlier as a boy at sea, he was quick to insist that a ship’s master must have ‘powers ...

Ceremonies

Rodney Hilton, 21 January 1988

Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies 
edited by David Cannadine and Simon Price.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33513 2
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... imperial power, an emphasis especially directed at foreigners and the emperor’s subjects. Janet Nelson’s account of Carolingian ritual, especially under Charlemagne, interestingly downgrades its profile. She presents Charlemagne as un-autocratic, socially agreeable to the Frankish imperial nobility and to the higher clergy. It was the clergy who ...

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