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Red Science

Eric Hobsbawm: J.D. Bernal, 9 March 2006

J.D. Bernal: The Sage of Science 
by Andrew Brown.
Oxford, 562 pp., £25, November 2005, 0 19 851544 8
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... suspect culture of science was a more obvious target for the sour provincialism of F.R. Leavis. Andrew Brown’s J.D. Bernal: The Sage of Science is better at satisfying biographical than historical curiosity. It is not the first book based on the Bernal Archive, now in the Cambridge University Library, but it gives us more of the facts than all its ...


Lizzy Davies: ‘The Night Cleaner’, 3 November 2011

The Night Cleaner 
by Florence Aubenas, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 184 pp., £14.99, 0 7456 5199 2
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... In February 2009, Florence Aubenas – a French journalist well known for her dispatches from Rwanda, Kosovo and Afghanistan – disappeared from the pages of Le Nouvel Observateur. Was she taking a break or was she in Morocco writing a novel? A year later it emerged that she had gone to the northern city of Caen as a jobseeker. For almost six months Aubenas witnessed the recession from the frontline, working as a cleaner in offices, holiday villas and on the ferry that brings tourists to Normandy ...

Cities of Fire and Smoke

Oliver Cussen: Enlightenment Environmentalism, 2 March 2023

Affluence and Freedom: An Environmental History of Political Ideas 
by Pierre Charbonnier, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 327 pp., £19.99, July 2021, 978 1 5095 4372 4
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... By the middle​ of the 18th century, the French colonists of Quebec were convinced that the climate was getting warmer. The winters that had shocked earlier settlers now seemed less harsh: frosts arrived a little later in the year, snows thawed a little earlier, and harvests were more abundant. Quebec soon became an improbable cause célèbre of Enlightenment climatology ...

Launch the Icebergs!

Tim Lewens: Who Was Max Perutz?, 15 November 2007

Max Perutz and the Secret of Life 
by Georgina Ferry.
Chatto, 352 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 7011 7695 2
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... in 1953, that set him on a zigzag path to articulating the structure of haemoglobin. He told Andrew Brown, Bernal’s biographer, that the application of the replacement technique to proteins was ‘my idea and my discovery. If you like, it’s what I am famous for.’ In 1962, Perutz’s work on the structure of haemoglobin won him the Nobel Prize ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher Hitchens, 17 August 1989

Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... are of an age, and both have backgrounds in a harder Left than the one they now espouse. Gordon Brown was one of the convenor/editors of the Red Paper for Scotland in the early Seventies, and John Lloyd saw the inside of the Communist Party before helping to found a pro-European Marxist tendency at about the same time. Rather touchingly, he uses the chorus ...

What mattered to Erasmus

James McConica, 2 March 1989

Erasmus’s Annotations on the New Testament. The Gospels: Facsimile of the final Latin text with all earlier variants 
edited by Anne Reeve.
Duckworth, 284 pp., £35, March 1986, 9780715619902
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Erasmus’s Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian 
by Erika Rummel.
Toronto, 234 pp., £24.50, January 1987, 0 8020 5683 0
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A New Rabelais Bibliography: Editions of Rabelais before 1626 
by Stephen Rawles and M.A. Screech.
Droz, 691 pp.
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The Library of Robert Burton 
by Nicholas Kiessling.
Oxford Bibliographic Society, 433 pp., £25, May 1988, 0 901420 42 5
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... commentary on the Vulgate textus receptus of the day. Thanks to the critical scholarship of Andrew Brown, we have known also since 1985 that Erasmus’s Latin text was not begun in 1505-6 under inspiration from Valla, as was long thought, but composed, as he claimed, under considerable pressure of time during his stay in Basel. Of the three ...

‘How big?’ ‘That big’

Andrew Motion: Tales from the Riverbank, 5 February 1998

Notes on Fishing 
by Sergei Timmofeevich Aksakov, translated by Thomas Hodge.
Northwestern, 230 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780810113664
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... a jar?’ I was six but I thought I knew what she meant. I had these friends, the Routledge twins: Andrew and Peter. My own two Christian names, as it happened, but divided up like that I didn’t recognise them as mine. Andrew was quiet and cautious, Peter quick and reckless. They lived on a mucky farm nearby; you turned ...

On His Trapeze

Michael Wood: Roland Barthes, 17 November 2016

Barthes: A Biography 
by Tiphaine Samoyault, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 586 pp., £25, December 2016, 978 1 5095 0565 4
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... On​ 2 December 1978 Roland Barthes reported to an audience at the Collège de France on his desire to change as a writer, and told them about a specific moment when the thought of a ‘conversion’ hit him: 15 April that year. Casablanca. The sluggishness of the afternoon. The sky clouds over, a slight chill in the air … a kind of listlessness … bears upon everything I do … The beginnings of an idea … to enter into literature, into writing, to write, as if I had never written before: to do only that ...

Coming to Visit

Andrew Motion, 6 October 1983

... your twin swam deftly into my head, curled up alseep as if you were children, embracing with warm, brown, identical arms and breathing each other’s breath. All I could actually see, though, was my head in the water distorted half by ripples, half by the moon, so it seemed I was watching a head appear in a well, or a rocky cleft, which might – if I ever ...

Hatpin through the Brain

Jonathan Meades: Closing Time for the Firm, 9 June 2022

The Palace Papers 
by Tina Brown.
Century, 571 pp., £20, April, 978 1 5291 2470 5
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... is in someone’s long lens and for whom blood is everything: the Windsors, aka the Firm. Tina Brown, a smart ethnographer bearing a scalpel, engages with this dispiriting bunch as though they, like the Rooneys of that photograph, have yet to evolve.The slice of world that is vouchsafed to the queen and her many dependants, to whom she doles out annual ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Valets, 10 September 2009

... the cause of change to the heart muscle itself which could have fatal results. Tobacco was ‘the brown man’s revenge’ on the white man for having ‘brought him firewater’ and thus damaging him. Right enough about the arteries, not so clued up about the brown man. But then, it is hardly ever the natural habit of ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 10 October 2013

... writing in the Mail, thinks the way to understand Damian McBride’s relationship to Gordon Brown is by analogy with the Third Reich. McBride didn’t need to take direct orders from his boss because he already understood the violence that Brown wished on his enemies. The underling was working towards the ...

‘Village Politicians’

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 December 2008

... wrote. There are 14 figures in the picture, each with a life of its own, and yet the interior, brown and muddy and variously lit, has a character, too: a habitat but also a living museum of past and present cares. ‘Painting out of the Ordinary: Modernity and the Art of Everyday Life’ (Yale, £45), a wonderful new book by David Solkin, points out that ...
... and a sense of wonder and illumination that one will never experience again. I go back to the grey-brown gloom of the life room at Camberwell just after the war, the model half-asleep, part of the furniture. Lawrence bounces into the room. Suddenly the model is caught up, transported in a romance of eternal return: Danaë, Bathsheba, Victorine ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... Conan Doyle, whom one expects to sound like Basil Rathbone. In actual fact he sounds like Gordon Brown. It’s somehow easy to forget that Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, and his voice, recorded in 1930, is here filled with lilting plangencies about the age of materialism and the fact that death is not the end. He was right about that, about death not ...

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