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Nicholas Penny, 15 July 1982

Victorian Sculpture 
by Benedict Read.
Yale, 414 pp., £30, June 1982, 0 300 02506 8
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... judiciously selected and juxtaposed, it changes our knowledge of the subject overnight. But Read’s text is admirable. It provides, among other things, a thoroughly documented exploration of how sculptors were trained, how they organised their studios, divided their labour, attracted attention and, by puffing and jobbery as often as not, secured public ...

Guts Benedict

Adam Bradbury, 11 June 1992

The Wrecking Yard 
by Pinckney Benedict.
Secker, 195 pp., £7.99, March 1992, 0 436 20062 7
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Sacred Hunger 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 241 13003 4
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The Butcher Boy 
by Patrick McCabe.
Picador, 217 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 9780330323581
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... Somewhere on the road between Twin Peaks and Faulkner country you might come across Pinckney Benedict hacking out a prickly little clearing for himself in the shadow of some of American fiction’s more established, and more pronounceable, names – Pynchon, Steinbeck and Sam Shepard among them. Pinckney Benedict’s world is a small-town one, real backwoods stuff, an angle which his publishers are not over-anxious to play down ...

Djojo on the Corner

Benedict Anderson, 24 August 1995

After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist 
by Clifford Geertz.
Harvard, 198 pp., £17.95, April 1995, 0 674 00871 5
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... and the United States – produced the (figurative) ‘big men’ of anthropology who are still read seriously today. One can think of their production as coming in three distinct waves. The first generation came to maturity in the palmy days before the Great War, when the empires were assuming their final consolidated form, and colonialism seemed ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead, 6 March 2014

Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... the inner workings of her intellectual circle, many of whose members were also her lovers: Ruth Benedict, Edward Sapir, Reo Fortune, Gregory Bateson, Geoffrey Gorer. In retracing the exploits of this scholarly ménage à plusieurs, and in recovering their ideas alongside their passions, Mandler has captured a defining moment in the history of American ...

When you die you’ll go to hell

Wendy Steiner, 27 May 1993

Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes 
by Helen Benedict.
Oxford, 309 pp., £22.50, February 1993, 0 19 506680 4
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Reproducing Rape: Domination through Talk in the Courtroom 
by Gregory Matoesian.
Polity, 256 pp., £45, February 1993, 0 7456 1036 6
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... sink into a fundamentalist nightmare where verbal insult is injury, punishable as crime. Helen Benedict’s Virgin and Vamp and Gregory Matoesian’s Reproducing Rape are part of this assault: they seek to combat rape by reforming the way it is described. Although Benedict’s book is a journalist’s critique of rape ...

Putting things in boxes

Adam Kuper: Margaret Mead, 24 May 2007

To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead 
edited by Margaret Caffrey and Patricia Francis.
Basic Books, 429 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 0 465 00815 1
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... grace of the most complete fragility,’ she gushed in a letter to the anthropologist Ruth Benedict. ‘You’ve no idea how moving six feet four of vulnerable beauty is. He gets all the points, is extraordinarily sensitive to people.’ Mead and Fortune set up camp on the shore of Lake Chambri near Bateson’s field site, and began a four-month study ...


Edmund Leach, 2 August 1984

Nomads and the Outside World 
by A.M. Khazanov, translated by Julia Crookenden.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £37.50, February 1984, 0 521 23813 7
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The House of Si Abd Allah: The Oral History of a Moroccan Family 
edited by Henry Munson.
Yale, 320 pp., £17.95, April 1984, 0 300 03084 3
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Ruth BenedictPatterns of a Life 
by Judith Modell.
Chatto, 255 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 7011 2771 6
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... of Si Abd Allah. Henry Munson presents his story in a most original manner and it deserves to be read and enjoyed by all sorts of people who have no professional interest in anthropology. There are really three authors. The two principal narrators, both born in Tangier, are first cousins but separated by 18 years in age and several centuries in general ...

In a Pomegranate Chandelier

T.J. Clark: Benedict Anderson, 21 September 2006

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 240 pp., £12.99, September 2006, 1 84467 086 4
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Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 224 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 1 84467 037 6
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... our thinking about the world. But it is understandable, and touching, that the first footnote to Benedict Anderson’s afterword to his new edition should read, in explanation of the trimming of the title in his text: ‘Aside from the advantages of brevity, IC restfully occludes a pair of words from which the vampires of ...

First Filipino

Benedict Anderson, 16 October 1997

Noli Me Tangere 
by José Rizal, translated by Soledad Lacson-Locsin.
Hawaii, 451 pp., $47, June 1997, 0 8248 1917 9
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... that earned Rizal the implacable enemies who brought him to his early death. It is impossible to read Noli Me Tangere today in the way a patriotic young Manileño of 1897 would have read it: as a political hand grenade. We all have the spectre of comparisons crouched on our shoulders. It was only the second novel ever ...

Creole Zones

Benedict Anderson, 7 November 1991

The First Americans: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492-1867 
by D.A. Brading.
Cambridge, 761 pp., £55, March 1991, 9780521391306
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... during which the whole planet became known for the first time to a single, powerful civilisation. Read as a triumph of science and reason over what Washington Irving, in his biography of the Discoverer, called ‘the long night of monkish bigotry and false learning’, it seemed also to presage the eclipse of the Old World and the lasting ascendancy of the ...

G&Ts on the Veranda

Francis Gooding: The Science of Man, 4 March 2021

The Reinvention of Humanity: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Remade Race, Sex and Gender 
by Charles King.
Vintage, 431 pp., £10.99, November 2020, 978 1 78470 586 2
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... romantic intrigues. She had a lifelong, on-off love affair with another of Boas’s students, Ruth Benedict, in comparison with whom her other lovers and husbands come off looking much slighter figures. (The linguist Edward Sapir, in particular, disgraces himself with belittlements and lies almost every time he writes a letter to or about her.) ...

The Perfect Pattern of a Prelate

Eamon Duffy: Pius XII and the Jews, 26 September 2013

The Life and Pontificate of Pope Pius XII: Between History and Controversy 
by Frank Coppa.
Catholic University of America, 306 pp., £25.50, February 2013, 978 0 8132 2016 1
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The Pope’s Jews: The Vatican’s Secret Plan to Save Jews from the Nazis 
by Gordon Thomas.
Robson, 336 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 1 84954 506 8
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Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII 
by Robert Ventresca.
Harvard, 405 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 0 674 04961 1
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... memory, a lucid legal mind and a gift for languages. Under four popes – Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI – Pacelli steadily grew in esteem and influence. He was the chief draftsman of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which greatly extended the powers of the papacy over the universal church. As nuncio to Germany from 1917 until 1929 he developed ...

Bristling with Diligence

James Wood: A.S. Byatt, 8 October 2009

The Children’s Book 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 617 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 7011 8389 9
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... pots. Olive and Humphry take Philip in; he is apprenticed to a demonically talented potter named Benedict Fludd, who works and lives in a partly derelict manor house in the Romney Marshes. There are two large themes: the relations of men and women, and the relations of parents and children. Dorothy Wellwood prosecutes an arduous path to becoming a ...

Frameworks of Comparison

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 2016

... has obsolescence built into it, in the manner of high-end commodities. In year X students had to read and more or less revere Theory Y, while sharpening their teeth on passé Theory W. Not too many years later, they were told to sharpen their teeth on passé Theory Y, admire Theory Z, and forget about Theory W. The second lesson was that – with some ...

The Most Learned Man in Europe

Tom Shippey: Anglo-Saxon Libraries, 8 June 2006

The Anglo-Saxon Library 
by Michael Lapidge.
Oxford, 407 pp., £65, January 2006, 0 19 926722 7
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... reconquest, at least long enough to last until rich and eager Anglo-Saxon aristocrats like Benedict Biscop came to Rome, hunting for materials to build up their own collections back home in Whitby or Ripon or Jarrow. Nothing is known about books taken to England by the first wave of missionaries under St Augustine, sent out by Pope Gregory the Great in ...

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