David Simpson

David Simpson teaches at the University of California, Davis. Romanticism and the Question of the Stranger will appear from Chicago later this year.

Damnable Heresy: The Epic of Everest

David Simpson, 25 October 2012

In February 1924, four months before George Mallory and Sandy Irvine died on Everest, Conrad published a short essay called ‘Geography and Some Explorers’. He distinguished between the provision of scientific facts, which could be of only limited interest, and the ‘drama of human endeavour’ embodied in the pursuit of a ‘militant geography’ larger and...

Because He’s Worth It: Young Werther

David Simpson, 13 September 2012

Goethe’s most famous novel was once a Europe-wide sensation. There were Werther-themed prints, figurines, jewellery, perfume, fans, crockery and men’s clothing. The novel itself first appeared in English in 1779, as a translation of a translation: The Sorrows of Werther: A German Story was based on the French version. Translations of French novels made up a large part of the...

Short Cuts: The 9/11 Memorial

David Simpson, 17 November 2011

I had just about made my peace with the 9/11 memorial, whose concept I had at first found generic and full of clichés: the trees, the pool of falling water, the glimpse into the void and so on. Despite a few false notes (the tacky little flags on the bagpipes, and George W. Bush reciting from a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to a mother who lost five sons in the Civil War, once again...

Because We Could: Soldiers and Torture

David Simpson, 18 November 2010

Last July David Cameron announced a judicial inquiry into Britain’s alleged participation in acts of torture and rendition in the years since 9/11, though he also said that it wouldn’t begin until the current round of civil lawsuits had been resolved. The emphasis, he implied, would be on Britain’s role in condoning or assisting foreign agencies rather than on our own...

When and where does modern war begin? With tanks or gas warfare in 1914-18? With the aerial bombardment of civilians in Mesopotamia in 1920? At Guernica in 1937? With the general conscription, guerrilla campaigns and worldwide conflict of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars between France and Britain and their allies between 1793 and 1815? Or with the destruction of civilian lives and...

As a colleague of David Simpson at the University of California and a friend graciously thanked in his acknowledgments, can I pretend to have the disinterestedness necessary to write an objective...

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Vanishings

Peter Swaab, 20 April 1989

Wordsworth’s poetry has been able to animate critical writing, relevantly, from several different points of view. Narratologists have discussed the gaps in his storytelling and the...

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