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A New Theory of Communication

Alastair Fowler, 30 March 1989

Relevance: Communication and Cognition 
by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson.
Blackwell, 279 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 631 13756 4
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Human Agency: Language, Duty and Value 
edited by Jonathan Dancy, J.M.E. Moravcsik and C.C.W. Taylor.
Stanford, 308 pp., $35, September 1988, 0 8047 1474 6
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... added range, the drawing on more and wider associations? In the case of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s Relevance, collaboration has been able to draw on feminine and masculine resources – although I am far too afraid of my feminist colleagues to say which resources are which. Anyway, like Gilbert and Sullivan, or Somerville and Ross, Sperber ...

Dark Places

John Sutherland, 18 November 1982

Wise Virgin 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 186 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 436 57608 2
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The London Embassy 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 241 10872 1
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The frog who dared to croak 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 182 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11989 1
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Vintage Stuff 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.50, November 1982, 0 436 45810 1
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Rogue Justice 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 174 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 7181 2178 3
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... With Wise Virgin, A.N. Wilson continues his bleak investigation of trauma. The Healing Art (his most acclaimed novel so far) scrutinised human sensibility under the sentence of terminal cancer. Wise Virgin takes the life term and solitary confinement of bereaved blindness. It’s played out with Wilson’s customary geometric neatness of design ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... fools and villains are the lifeblood of the paper. Every reader has a cherished bubble photo, from Wilson and Biafra through Kissinger in South Africa (HK to Vorster: ‘I’m only here for De Beers’) via James Goldsmith, Robert Maxwell, Rupert Murdoch, to Mugabe, Bush and Blair. For fans of a pensionable age, Verwoerd’s assassination (‘A Nation ...

The Road to 1989

Paul Addison, 21 February 1991

The People’s Peace: British History 1945-1989 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 558 pp., £17.95, October 1990, 0 19 822764 7
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... One of the most triumphant television productions of the decade was ITV’s dramatisation of Paul Scott’s ‘Raj Quartet’ under the title The Jewel in the Crown, a testament to the uneasy. Forster-like imperial conscience of a pre-Thatcherite age. In foreign affairs, Mrs Thatcher’s experience was slight ... This is masterly. The introduction of ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... On 22 February 1965, the fifth month of Harold Wilson’s first ministry, Richard Crossman recorded the following in his Diaries of a Cabinet Minister: Then Harold Wilson raised the issue of Anthony Howard. He has just been appointed by the Sunday Times to be the first Whitehall correspondent in history, looking into the secrets of the Civil Service rather than leaking the secrets of the politicians ...

Seven Days

R.W. Johnson, 4 July 1985

The Pick of Paul Johnson: An Anthology 
Harrap, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 245 54246 9Show More
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... Paul Johnson does not, as they say, need much introduction. Whatever one thinks of his opinions, one has to admire his frenetic energy. From 1955 to 1970 he poured forth strong left-wing views in the New Statesman, and since then has moved to pouring forth strong right-wing views in a whole host of publications, books and speeches ...

Lab Lib

M.F. Perutz, 19 April 1984

Rutherford: Simple Genius 
by David Wilson.
Hodder, 639 pp., £14.95, February 1984, 0 340 23805 4
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... Rutherford was one of my early heroes, and Wilson’s biography of this great and lovable man has enlivened and enlarged, rather than debunked, my youthful image. Rutherford was the man who created the atomic age: a farmer’s boy from New Zealand whose brilliance and Herculean energy brought him the Presidency of the Royal Society, a peerage, and honours from all over the world ...

London Lefties

Paul Foot, 17 September 1987

If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it 
by Ken Livingstone.
Collins, 367 pp., £12, August 1987, 0 00 217770 6
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A Taste of Power: The Politics of Local Economics 
edited by Maureen Mackintosh and Hilary Wainwright.
Verso, 441 pp., £22.95, July 1987, 0 86091 174 8
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... Labour administrations must make a ‘clean break’ with the opportunism and failure of the Wilson-Callaghan era. The new GLC hired numbers of these Bennites to encourage ‘popular activity’ in the interests of the dispossessed. It suddenly became clear that the vast rates which the GLC could levy without much damage to anyone could be used to assist ...

Gaol Fever

David Saunders-Wilson, 24 July 1986

Prisons and the Process of Justice 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 217 pp., £5.95, June 1986, 0 19 281932 1
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Growing out of Crime: Society and Young People in Trouble 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Penguin, 189 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 022383 5
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... had been inspired by the careers of Jimmy Boyle, John McVicar, ‘Dirty Den’ of EastEnders, and Paul Barber, one of the ‘Brothers McGregor’ who also spent some time inside, and who recently claimed in the Sun: ‘Jailed turned me into a star.’ Burglary, theft, blackmail, arson, extortion, violence – including rape – have become socially ...

Radical Democrats

Ross McKibbin, 7 March 1991

Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977-80 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 675 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 09 174321 4
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Words as Weapons: Selected Writings 1980-1990 
by Paul Foot.
Verso, 281 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 310 4
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... When historians come to account for the dégringolade of modern British politics both Tony Benn and Paul Foot will find a place: Benn as actor, Foot as an observer. The two have much in common: both were born into very similar families; both see their lives as a continuing re-education, a casting aside of cultural baggage packed with the detritus of a worn-out social system; both have come to discover a superior morality within socialism and the organised working class ...

Fratricide, Matricide and the Philosopher

Shadi Bartsch: Seneca, 18 June 2015

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero 
by James Romm.
Knopf, 290 pp., £18.45, March 2014, 978 0 307 59687 1
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Seneca: A Life 
by Emily Wilson.
Allen Lane, 253 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 84614 637 4
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... of thinker we’re talking about. When it was discovered a few years after his death in 1983 that Paul de Man had written for Nazi-controlled newspapers in Belgium, a debate began on whether this had any bearing on the deconstruction he propounded. The new revelations rooted out by Evelyn Barish in her biography of de Man last year – bigamy, fraud and an ...

Sisterly

A.N. Wilson, 21 October 1993

Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 538 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 340 53784 1
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... contemporaries. But if Tony Powell took himself a bit seriously in 1958, what did she make of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Bcauvoir, Barthes? Her absurd Francophilia was undiminished even by the événements of 1968, which she ‘covered’ for the Spectator. Everyone pays tribute to her pluck when, for the last four years of her life, she was suffering from ...

Sixtysomethings

Paul Addison, 11 May 1995

True Blues: The Politics of Conservative Party Membership 
by Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd and Jeremy Richardson.
Oxford, 303 pp., £35, October 1994, 0 19 827786 5
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Frustrate Their Knavish Tricks: Writings on Biography, History and Politics 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 417 pp., £20, August 1994, 9780002554954
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... to the world at the Annual Party Conference. From now on there is less excuse for ignorance. Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd and Jeremy Richardson have conducted the first national survey of Conservative Party members, based on a sample of 34 constituency associations in various regions, including Scotland. Since the survey is based on a standardised ...

Tea-Leafing

Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... White is the most ordinary and engaging little man in the world ... Charlie Wilson, the sort of father you see by the hundred in France on Sunday outings ... [Gordon] Goody, nerves of steel and the wolfish handsomeness of the pack leader ... The events were so vividly in the minds of the actors that they remember, like Henry V at ...

Fairyland

Bruce Bawer, 2 May 1985

Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald 
by James Mellow.
Souvenir, 569 pp., £15.95, February 1985, 0 285 65001 7
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Home before Dark: A Personal Memoir of John Cheever 
by Susan Cheever.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £10.95, January 1985, 0 297 78376 9
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... be many who are unfamiliar with the outlines of the Scott Fitzgerald story: the early years in St Paul as the humiliated son of a failed businessman (and as the inordinately proud descendant of Francis Scott Key, author of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’); the glorious salad days at Princeton University, which he left without a degree; the wartime courtship of ...

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