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The Straight and the Bent

Elaine Showalter, 23 April 1992

Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault 
by Jonathan Dollimore.
Oxford, 388 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 19 811225 4
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Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories 
by Diana Fuss.
Routledge, 432 pp., £40, March 1992, 0 415 90236 3
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... never ‘write “I” any more,’ for ‘in art, don’t you see, there is no first person.’ Jonathan Dollimore sees in the conflict between Gide’s courageous ‘essentialist ethic’ and Wilde’s uncompromising ‘transgressive aesthetic’ a paradigm of the internal contradictions of homosexual theory and a preamble to ‘the modern history of ...

Chinese Leaps

Jon Elster, 25 April 1991

The Search for Modern China 
by Jonathan Spence.
Hutchinson, 876 pp., £19.95, May 1990, 0 09 174472 5
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Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1880s to the 1980s 
by Jack Gray.
Oxford, 456 pp., £35, April 1990, 0 19 913076 0
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... and soil impose perennial constraints on warfare and agriculture. A striking example is found in Jonathan Spence’s The Search for Modern China: ‘Chiang Kai-shek [in 1949] had roughly the same range of options that had faced the southern Ming court once the Manchus had seized Peking and the North China plain 305 years before. He could try to consolidate a ...

But this is fateful!

Theo Tait: Jonathan Lethem, 16 March 2017

The Blot: A Novel 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 289 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 10148 6
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The Blot 
by Jonathan Lethem and Laurence Rickels.
Anti-Oedipus, 88 pp., £6.99, September 2016, 978 0 9905733 7 1
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... Trying to make sense​ of Jonathan Lethem’s fiction as a whole is something of a fool’s errand: there is no easily discernible line from the early hipster science fiction to his big-selling detective story Motherless Brooklyn (1999), to his Cobble Hill coming-of-age novel The Fortress of Solitude (2003) to his intricate, ironic New York Buddenbrooks, Dissident Gardens (2013 ...

A Boundary Where There Is None

Stephen Sedley: In Time of Meltdown, 12 September 2019

Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Profile, 128 pp., £9.99, August 2019, 978 1 78816 372 9
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... has for a long time been the view of a neoliberal school of legal thought; but the argument of Jonathan Sumption’s 2019 Reith Lectures, delivered in May and June and now issued in book form, is more accommodating. It is that while law and due process have their place, they owe considerably more respect to the political process than the UK’s courts have ...

Saint Terence

Jonathan Bate, 23 May 1991

Ideology: An Introduction 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 242 pp., £32.50, May 1991, 0 86091 319 8
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... still firmly Marxist at base, but has a more flexible superstructure shaped by various brands of Post-Structuralism, most notably Deconstruction, feminism and, latterly, the carnivalesque of Bakhtin. But in fact there are three phases, roughly divisible according to decade, and the first of these, which Eagleton has persistently suppressed in interviews and ...

The Biographer’s Story

Jonathan Coe, 8 September 1994

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers 
by Roger Lewis.
Century, 817 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7126 3801 6
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... you had to be there at the time) but routinely credited with having ‘revolutionised British post-war comedy’ – unless that was Monty Python or Beyond the Fringe. He moved slowly but surely into film comedy, was outstandingly good in such low-key successes as The Naked Truth and I’m All Right, Jack, and even turned in memorable performances in a ...

What does China want?

Jonathan Steele: China in the Stans, 23 October 2013

Restless Valley: Revolution, Murder and Intrigue in the Heart of Central Asia 
by Philip Shishkin.
Yale, 316 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 0 300 18436 5
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The Chinese Question in Central Asia: Domestic Order, Social Change and the Chinese Factor 
by Marlène Laruelle and Sébastien Peyrouse.
Hurst, 271 pp., £40, October 2012, 978 1 84904 179 9
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... had headed the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences until he emerged as the compromise candidate for the new post of president of the republic in 1990 and was voted into the job by the Supreme Soviet. In his first decade in power, he was thought of by Western diplomats as a liberal, and with its mountains and lakes Kyrgyzstan was said to be on the way to becoming the ...

Like Beavers

Wyatt Mason: Safran Foer’s survival stories, 2 June 2005

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Hamish Hamilton, 320 pp., £14.99, June 2005, 9780241142134
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... in an introductory note by a Conjunctions associate editor, an unknown 22-year-old American called Jonathan Safran Foer. ‘These pages of Singer’s are not great literature,’ Foer wrote. ‘Surely they were never intended to be published’: But like all great literature, like the stories, plays and poems by which these 18 days are now surrounded, they ...

How bad can it get?

LRB Contributors, 15 August 2019

... Neal Ascherson, Mary Beard, Jonathan Coe, Tom Crewe, William Davies, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Lorna Finlayson, Daniel Finn, Katrina Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Daisy Hildyard, Colin Kidd, James Meek, Ferdinand Mount, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Parry, David RuncimanNeal Ascherson‘On​ 17 June poor France fell ...

The Brothers Koerbagh

Jonathan Rée: The Enlightenment, 14 January 2002

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 
by Jonathan Israel.
Oxford, 810 pp., £30, February 2001, 0 19 820608 9
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... the 18th century and its over-investment in the power of reason. Postmodernism was nothing if not post-Enlightenment. The idea of the Enlightenment goes back to the 18th century itself, in particular to Kant and a miniature essay called ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ which he wrote in 1784. He started by acknowledging that we all have an ingrained desire to ...
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, to its present position, which is known either as ‘post-structuralism’ or simply as ‘deconstruction’. It is significant that it should bear the date 1979, though, for it is very much a book which closes and summarises the ideas of two decades, not a book which opens a new decade of inquiry. The clarity and ...

Robbing banks

George Melly, 25 June 1992

Magritte 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £45, May 1992, 0 500 09227 3
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Magritte 
by Sarah Whitfield.
South Bank Centre, 322 pp., £18.95, May 1992, 1 85332 087 0
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... the bourgeois ‘bad taste’ of Magritte’s house in the Rue des Mimosas in suburban Brussels, Jonathan Miller took off into one of his self-intoxicating fantasies. We were there together in the mid-Sixties to make a film for the BBC, and although I had forewarned him, Jonathan couldn’t believe that this overstuffed ...

Toe-Lining

Frank Kermode, 22 January 1998

Shakespeare’s Troy: Drama, Politics and the Translation of Empire 
by Heather James.
Cambridge, 283 pp., £37.50, December 1997, 0 521 59223 2
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... curiosities as Renaissance cross-dressing and the like. Among his colleagues on the board are Jonathan Goldberg, author, among other adventurous works, of Sodometrics: Renaissance Texts, Modern Sexualities, Marjorie Garber, a celebrated, good-humoured and energetic advocate of bisexuality, and Jonathan Dollimore, an ...

She’s not scared

Thomas Jones: Niccolò Ammaniti, 6 September 2017

Anna 
by Niccolò Ammaniti, translated by Jonathan Hunt.
Canongate, 261 pp., £12.99, August 2017, 978 1 78211 834 3
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... Ammaniti internationally famous, his fourth, Io non ho paura (2001, translated into English by Jonathan Hunt as I’m Not Scared), is set in the long hot summer of 1978, in an isolated hamlet surrounded by cornfields in an unspecified part of southern Italy. The narrator, nine-year-old Michele Amitrano, is quick-witted, observant, brave and good ...

Something else

Jonathan Coe, 5 December 1991

In Black and White 
by Christopher Stevenson.
New Caxton Press, 32 pp., £1.95
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The Tree of Life 
by Hugh Nissenson.
Carcanet, 159 pp., £6.95, September 1991, 0 85635 874 6
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Cley 
by Carey Harrison.
Heinemann, 181 pp., £13.99, November 1991, 0 434 31368 8
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... the gigantic Richard’s Feet, which traces the career of Richard Thurgo, a London solicitor, in post-war Hamburg where he is masquerading as an ex-Nazi. Back in England, Thurgo has been presumed dead for some twenty years after his body was supposedly found in the remains of a burnt-out jeep, the only identifiable features being his well-protected feet ...

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