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The Divorce

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Michael Hamburger, 18 February 1982

... reasonableness. ‘Not so bad really.’ But at night the thoughts of vengeance, the silent fight, anonymous like two bony barristers, two large crabs in water. Then the exhaustion. Slowly the scab peels off. A new tobacconist, a new address. Pariahs, horribly relieved. Shades growing paler. These are the documents. This is the bunch of keys. This is the ...

Two Poems

Ruth Padel, 28 April 2011

... acres of graves, guarded and layered in rose-pink. Walls, city, dust. We have been here for ever. Anonymous pinchpenny plague tombs from medieval centuries. Bronze epitaphs in French, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic. Fathers and children, fathers and wives. The Jewish Cemetery, Marrakesh. A visitor, wearing the guard’s black velvet kippah, wanders, takes notes, then ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Kursk, 30 November 2000

... tabloid-format Novaya Gazeta printed what purports to be a transcript of an interview with an anonymous sailor, apparently from the crew of Peter the Great, though this is nowhere specified. ‘We were in the same area as the Kursk,’ he says – presumably it’s ‘we’: in Russian this is ambiguous – and goes on: The test-firing was organised by ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... is also interesting on William Sprigge’s A Modest Plea for an Equal Commonwealth of 1659, the anonymous Chaos (1659) and The Free State of Noland (1696), which he classifies as ‘Harringtonian’. He has even found a couple of Royalist utopias, which he discusses in Chapter Ten. More important, he distinguishes a category of ‘full-employment ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Vatileaks Saga, 25 October 2012

... informed about nefarious goings-on in the Vatican, the butler decided to send him an anonymous message by taking a clutch of stolen letters and other documents to a journalist. Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose Vaticano S.p.A. (‘Vatican Ltd’), an investigation into the Vatican’s shadier financial dealings, came out in 2009, published some of what ...

Out of Sight

Richard Murphy: What is a tax haven?, 14 April 2011

... bribery and extortion. Third, they are used by those who want their activities to be anonymous, even if they are entirely legitimate. Some people wish to hide their wealth from their spouses, for example; others might want to conduct trade which, though legitimate, might risk their reputation. Fourth, they are used by those seeking somewhere ...

On ‘Spoofing’

Donald MacKenzie: Spoofing, 21 May 2015

... Michael Coscia, who was indicted in October last year. The trading of shares and futures is now anonymous and electronic. You no longer stand in a crowded trading pit, shouting and gesticulating. You sit quietly at your computer – often it’s doing the trading for you – and enter bids to buy or offers to sell. Those bids and offers are transmitted ...

Zero Is a Clenched Fist

Donald MacKenzie: Trading from the Pit, 1 November 2007

Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London 
by Caitlin Zaloom.
Chicago, 224 pp., £18.50, November 2006, 0 226 97813 3
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... an offer, and have thus been able to conclude a transaction. The bids and offers on the screen are anonymous, and unlike a human body or a voice they never directly convey confidence or fear. Getting the best access is essentially a matter of being prepared to pay for it, for example by buying membership of an exchange. You don’t have to punch someone who is ...

Dear Who Gives a C**p

Lydia Davis, 7 January 2021

... them.But may I make one request? The first shipment you sent – our first order – came in an ‘anonymous’ cardboard box, which I preferred. The latest shipment had your company name on it. I find that a little awkward. The name may be amusing to some people, and I don’t mind it – or not very much – but it’s frankly embarrassing to display in the ...

Someone Else

Peter Campbell, 17 April 1986

In the American West 
by Richard Avedon.
Thames and Hudson, 172 pp., £40, October 1985, 0 500 54110 8
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by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Thames and Hudson, 283 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 500 54109 4
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... the other hand, no one really doubts that photography is art. Meanwhile, in these pictures of the anonymous and deprived, ethnography and fashion join hands. Fashion photographers are famous for stopping girls in the street, and making their faces their fortunes. Avedon, who has taken some of the best fashion pictures, looked for these less fortunate Western ...

Jade and Plastic

Andrew Nathan: How bad was Mao?, 17 November 2005

Mao: The Unknown Story 
by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.
Cape, 814 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 224 07126 2
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... and the Red Guard leader Kuai Dafu. Chang and Halliday also cite dozens of interviews with anonymous sources, including a laundry worker who describes the fine cotton used for Mao’s underwear in Yan’an; a pharmacist who allegedly prescribed lysol for one of Mao’s political rivals in the 1940s; Mao’s daughter’s nanny in Yan’an; staff at ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 2 July 1981

... society – fishermen, actors, courtesans and samurai – mixing it. Following no useful calling, anonymous in their nakedness, lovers clutch each other. We might be watching ourselves, dizzy men and women without designations ... We jostle in the dark for a better view. The Interviewer ‘You will have noticed the dissonance: my common surname and ...

Doing Philosophy

Julia Annas, 22 November 1990

The ‘Theaetetus’ of Plato 
translated by M.J. Levett and Myles Burnyeat.
Hackett, 351 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 915144 82 4
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... them by argument, but who does so ad hominem, uncommitted to a philosophical view of his own. An anonymous commentator on the dialogue, writing probably in the late first century BC, notes of this passage: ‘Some say, as a result of passages like these, that Plato belongs in the sceptical Academy, since he holds no beliefs.’ Socrates perhaps, but Plato ...


Gerald Howard, 18 July 1996

Secret Life 
by Michael Ryan.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 7475 2545 5
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... the manipulative pseudo-sincerity of the television talk-show and the jargon of Alcoholics Anonymous into the literary memoir. In a review in the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani warned of ‘an approach that will be familiar to anyone who watches Oprah or Geraldo, an approach that is bound to become more popular in book-stores as the recovery movement ...

The Flower and the Bee

Irina Dumitrescu: Many Anons, 22 April 2021

Women, Writing and Religion in England and Beyond, 650-1100 
by Diane Watt.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £28.99, February, 978 1 350 23972 2
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... sacred song. His ‘Hymn’ has pride of place in anthologies of Old English poetry. For a while, anonymous biblical poems in Old English were ascribed to him too. Provided with the name of a vernacular poet – so rare in the early medieval period – scholars couldn’t resist embellishing Caedmon’s accomplishments.Bede described the abbess’s career ...

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