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Theory and Truth

Frank Kermode, 21 November 1991

Minor Prophecies: The Literary Essay in the Culture Wars 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
Harvard, 252 pp., £23.95, October 1991, 0 674 57636 5
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Spinoza and the Origins of Modern Critical Theory 
by Christopher Norris.
Blackwell, 240 pp., £30, July 1990, 0 631 17557 1
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What’s wrong with Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the Ends of Philosophy 
by Christopher Norris.
Harvester, 287 pp., £40, October 1990, 0 7450 0714 7
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... with this false doctrine. Accordingly Derrida is defended against the strictures of Habermas and Stanley Fish; neither he nor de Man can properly be accused of this Post-Modernism wickedness. What’s wrong with Postmodernism has long polemical essays on Habermas, Fish, Baudrillard and others; Baudrillard in ...

Angels and Dirt

Robert Dingley, 20 November 1980

Stanley Spencer RA 
by Richard Carline, Andrew Causey and Keith Bell.
Royal Academy/Weidenfeld, 239 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 297 77831 5
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... One can find,’ wrote Stanley Spencer, ‘interesting and very nice things in dustbins and incinerators.’ Ferreting about among rubbish heaps struck him as ‘a distinctly entertaining and elevating pastime’ and the beads, scraps of china and old books he disinterred ‘really satisfied my highest thoughts ...


Andrew O’Hagan: A report from Malawi, 23 March 2006

... in October 1871, but his stories about that journey would never enter the language the way Stanley’s would, when he caught up with him at Ujiji. Fourteen years earlier Livingstone had given a lecture at Cambridge. ‘I go back to Africa,’ he said, ‘to try to make an open path for commerce and Christianity.’ When I arrived at my hotel in ...

An Epiphany of Footnotes

Claude Rawson, 16 March 1989

Social Values and Poetic Acts: The Historical Judgment of Literary Work 
by Jerome McGann.
Harvard, 279 pp., £21.95, April 1988, 0 674 81495 9
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... its divorce from everything factive and circumstantial. Just as for later critics like de Man and Stanley Fish, for Brooks poetry is an intertextual system.’ McGann writes with a courtesy to opponents unusual in books as forthright and combative as his are. But most informed readers would, I think, recognise in these words a simplication of Brooks’s ...

Taking Bad Arguments Seriously

Ian Hacking, 21 August 1997

... His confession used the phrase ‘social construction’ just twice in a five-page essay. Stanley Fish, who teaches at Duke University, which publishes Social Text, and a man widely regarded as the very dean of advanced (literary) ‘theory’, replied on the oped page of the New York Times. There, he used the phrase, or its cognates, 16 times in ...

This beats me

Stephen Sedley: The Drafter’s Contract, 2 April 1998

Statutory Interpretation 
by Francis Bennion.
Butterworth, 1092 pp., £187, December 1997, 0 406 02126 0
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Law and Interpretation 
edited by Andrei Marmor.
Oxford, 463 pp., £18.99, October 1997, 0 19 826487 9
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Equality before the Law: Deaf People’s Access to Justice 
by Mary Brennan and Richard Brown.
Deaf Studies Research Unit, University of Durham, 189 pp., £17.50, October 1997, 0 9531779 0 4
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... volume, Jeremy Waldron, dismissing as ‘a trivial version of intentionalism’ a passage of Stanley Fish which strikes accurately at the soft core of this dualism: ‘there cannot be a distinction between interpreters who look to intention and interpreters who don’t, only a distinction between me differing accounts of intention put forward by ...

A Good Reason to Murder Your Landlady

Terry Eagleton: I.A. Richards, 25 April 2002

I.A. Richards: Selected Works 1919-38 
edited by John Constable.
Routledge, 595 pp., December 2001, 0 415 21731 8
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... in the words on the page, but in our response to them. But if you want to claim with the likes of Stanley Fish that the words on the page have no say at all in the matter, then you cannot logically speak of response – you cannot answer the question ‘What is it that you are finding beautiful?’ Your experience is no more an experience of this work of ...

What became of Modernism?

C.K. Stead, 1 May 1980

Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... real world, as in James McMichael’s ‘Compline’: Gudique is the chastening. She is not a fish. She is not the rocks where she browses nor the pools. The river when it opens is not Gudique. When its forgetfulness falls from it, when a cold wind leaks upward through the drifts and folds and pours over the banks and over the ferns this is ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Cold fish at the royal household, 20 November 2003

... will be preparing for exile in Bermuda, or some other far-flung corner of their former realm: Port Stanley, say, or Balmoral. Paul Burrell will have packed their bags for them one last time. The ‘irony’ of which, as Burrell would say (the only words that he misuses more often are ‘surreal’ and ‘enormity’), is that he’s a die-hard monarchist, as ...

Nothing goes without saying

Stanley Cavell, 6 January 1994

The Marx Brothers: ‘A Day at the Races’, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Duck Soup’ 
introduced by Karl French.
Faber, 261 pp., £8.99, November 1993, 0 571 16647 4
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... closets, there wouldn’t be any hooks, and if there weren’t any hooks, there wouldn’t be any fish, and that would suit me fine. To speak, as I believe is still common, of Groucho’s ‘one-liners’, as if this were his characteristic genre of response, is not helpful, not just because it is so incomplete, even inaccurate, but because what it omits ...

Just Like Cookham

Neal Ascherson: Stanley Spencer in China, 19 May 2011

Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 591 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 19 954193 5
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... inspirational professor of Chinese at Edinburgh). Last, and most improbable, was the great painter Stanley Spencer, a jumbled Christian Socialist who made his way to China wearing pyjamas as underclothes beneath his suit. Anyone who took part in grand freebies of this sort during the Cold War will remember their texture. At one extreme of the British cast of ...

Dye the Steak Blue

Lidija Haas: Shirley Jackson, 19 August 2010

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories 
edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
Library of America, 827 pp., $35, May 2010, 978 1 59853 072 8
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... in which a girl casually tells her friends the details of her suicide attempt earlier that day. Stanley Hyman, part of the small quota of Jewish students at Syracuse, read the story in a college magazine, thought it the only piece that showed any talent and sought Jackson out to tell her so. They fell in love and started their own publication, calling it ...

Short Cuts

Joanna Biggs: At the Food Bank, 5 December 2013

... Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, two tins of Heinz soup, black-eyed beans, Del Monte canned peaches, tinned fish, rice, juice, UHT milk, a silver tin of Nescafé Azera and a packet of biscuits. Three American study-abroad students fetched and carried and packed everything in new Waitrose carrier bags, one bag inside another in case one split on the way home. They ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... That the corpse of Robert Braybrook, bishop of London (d. 1404) ‘was like a preserved fish: uncorrupted except for the ears and pudenda’. (Aubrey visited after the roof of St Paul’s fell in during the 1666 fire, causing the lead coffins to break open.) Most audible of all, perhaps, is Aubrey’s description of Ralph Kettell, president of ...

Beltz’s Beaux

D.A.N. Jones, 3 March 1983

by Sholom Aleichem, translated by Aliza Shevrin.
Weidenfeld, 222 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 297 78200 2
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A Coin in Nine Hands 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Dori Katz.
Aidan Ellis, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 85628 123 9
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Entry into Jerusalem 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 172 pp., £7.50, January 1983, 0 09 150950 5
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People Who Knock on the Door 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 306 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 434 33521 5
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A Visit from the Footbinder 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2675 2
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by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 125 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 9780436102967
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... Southsea’ – and hears him speak ‘Movie English, one of the secret slangs of love’. With Stanley Middleton we must expect to be confined to a city in the English Midlands. A firm hand at the reins prevents his readers and himself from galloping away from this tranquil place. Entry into Jerusalem is about an admired landscape painter, just ...

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