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Existence Unperceived

W.D. Hart, 15 October 1981

Philosophical Subjects: Essays Presented to P.F. Strawson 
edited by Zak van Straaten.
Oxford, 302 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198246039
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... to the exchange between Evans and Strawson, I should add that there is much more here which is rich and subtle. It is a toss-up which are the worst papers in Philosophical Subjects. For some time, John Searle has been in the business of refuting David Hume’s thesis that purely normative or evaluative claims cannot be derived from purely factual ...

Walking among ghosts

Paul Fussell, 18 September 1980

The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... he wrote. ‘All the rest are side shows.’ After King Solomon’s Mines and She had made him rich and famous, he devoted himself increasingly to agricultural reform and to service on Royal Commissions and committees of the Royal Colonial Institute. He was an Empire man and a thoroughly public person, frequenting a milieu defined by conferences, public ...

Tearing up the Race Card

Paul Foot, 30 November 1995

The New Untouchables: Immigration and the New World Worker 
by Nigel Harris.
Tauris, 256 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85043 956 7
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The Cambridge Survey of World Migration 
edited by Robin Cohen.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £75, November 1995, 0 521 44405 5
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... people are not generally driven to work; they are attracted to it.’ The nightmare of the Western rich – that they will be ‘engulfed’ in a ‘flood tide’ of barbarian poor – is the exact opposite of what really happens. Abject poverty is not a spur to emigrate. The people who try to get into the growing economies of the ‘developed’ and ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... battle-cruiser. Funded by the American Jewish Committee, Commentary was edited by Elliot Cohen, perhaps the most interesting character in the book (the only one of true pathos), who wryly informs Podhoretz that the chief dif between Commentary and Partisan Review is that Commentary admits to being a Jewish magazine, PR doesn’t. Commentary’s ...

Like Cutting a Cow

Adam Kuper: Ritual killings in southern Africa, 6 July 2006

Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho: The Anatomy of a Moral Crisis 
by Colin Murray and Peter Sanders.
Edinburgh, 493 pp., £50, May 2006, 0 7486 2284 5
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... First, accusations of witchcraft target the poor, the odd and the weak, while it is the rich and powerful who are suspected of medicine murder. Second, outbreaks of witch-hunting and panics about medicine murder typically occur during political upheavals. In 1995, the government of the new South Africa’s Northern Province set up a commission of ...

Joan Didion’s Style

Martin Amis, 7 February 1980

The White Album 
by Joan Didion.
Weidenfeld, 223 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77702 5
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... had left them in 1942. In 1973 the Royal Hawaiian Hotel had seemed to James Jones less formidably rich than he had left it in 1942 … Both passages evoke the passing of time with the same reflexive cross-hatching. Equally, you know when to ready yourself for some uplift, because each sentence – like the one about Miss Didion’s shopping-centre ...

The Village Life

James Meek: Pushkin in English, 6 June 2019

Novels, Tales, Journeys 
by Aleksandr Pushkin, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Penguin, 512 pp., £9.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 29037 8
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... his father dry to support his champagne and card-table lifestyle in Petersburg, learns that a rich neighbour is trying to seize their estate: He pictured his father, abandoned in a remote village, in the hands of a stupid old woman and some servants, threatened by some sort of calamity, and fading away without help in the sufferings of body and ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich, 2 August 2018

... in the United States today. How does​ he get away with it? Trump speaks as one of the certified rich who understands the feelings of those lower down the ladder. He is the incarnation of the new gilded age without pretence – rich without being refined – and he knows very well that hatred of the other side is the main ...

Rabelais’s Box

Peter Burke, 3 April 1980

Rabelais 
by M.A. Screech.
Duckworth, 494 pp., £35, November 1979, 9780715609705
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... courage, unrivalled sobriety, unfailing contentment … Gargantua, Prologue, translated by J.R. Cohen Rabelais, too, may be compared to a Silenus. His big book is not unlike that little box painted with grotesques. Whether the comic exterior conceals a serious message – the marrow of the bone – has been a matter of controversy from his day to ...

Is everybody’s life like this?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Amy Levy, 16 November 2000

Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters 
by Linda Hunt Beckman.
Ohio, 331 pp., £49, May 2000, 0 8214 1329 5
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... two later studies of Jewish life: the controversial Reuben Sachs (1888) and a brief tale called ‘Cohen of Trinity’ (1889). (Beckman, who thinks the Leuniger story one of Levy’s strongest, had apparently intended to include it and another unpublished story in an appendix; but this, she cryptically announces in a note, ‘became impossible’.) Levy seems ...

Eric’s Hurt

David Craig, 7 March 1985

Eric Linklater: A Critical Biography 
by Michael Parnell.
Murray, 376 pp., £16, October 1984, 0 7195 4109 3
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... such figures with a fullness of intuitive insight which really is wise and which is also ‘rich in entertainment’. The author’s voice which twines its sarky commentary round the beautifully-mimicked dialogue in ‘Two Blue Birds’ actually entertains or amuses me much more than the strenuous capers which often pass for comedy in Linklater: the ...

If Oxfam ran the world

Martha Nussbaum, 4 September 1997

Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 
by Peter Unger.
Oxford, 187 pp., £35, October 1996, 0 19 507584 6
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... Unger’s advice: what would the world then be like? Oxfam and Unicef would suddenly become very rich, receiving both an annual fraction of people’s incomes and significant amounts of their land and other property. Since Unger instructs us to choose these two above other charities such as religious groups and universities, for reasons I shall ...

Making a Break

Terry Eagleton: Fredric Jameson’s Futures, 9 March 2006

Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 431 pp., £20, September 2005, 1 84467 033 3
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... our own present into the determinate past of something yet to come’. There is, in fact, a rich tradition of such negative utopianism, much of which Jameson, oddly, passes over. A specifically Jewish vein of it, stretching from Ernst Bloch and Gustav Landauer to Martin Buber and Herman Cohen, has recently been ...

What’s going on?

Peter Mair: The Netherlands, 14 December 2006

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance 
by Ian Buruma.
Atlantic, 278 pp., £12.99, October 2006, 1 84354 319 2
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... and comments included the queen and her extended family, the teflon Labour mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, the ‘left-wing church’, many of his fellow chat-show hosts and columnists, and various prominent Muslims, Jews and Christians. He was murdered by a young Muslim activist, and his death was to convulse the Netherlands. The first I heard about it as I ...

On the Defensive

Ross McKibbin, 26 January 1995

Social Justice: Strategies for National Renewal. The Report of the Commission on Social Justice 
Vintage, 418 pp., £6.99, October 1994, 9780099511410Show More
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... has been accelerated during each of our recent recessions. At the extremes there are ‘work-rich’ families, where both partners are working, and who have done very well in the last 15 years, and ‘work-poor’ families where neither partner works and who have done very badly. In such conditions, the Borrie Report concludes, social policy should be ...

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