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20 October 1994
The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below 
by Bruce Robbins.
Duke, 261 pp., £13.95, June 1993, 0 8223 1397 9
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... mobility and new wage-based economies invade the older social frameworks of the large household. Conceding too much in an oddly self-abasing conclusion to his expansive account of literary servants, BruceRobbins declares himself ‘ready to grant that I have not been talking about what is necessarily most complex, sophisticated, profound or even interesting in the English novel’. Do not believe him ...

Dive In!

Bruce Robbins: Hegelian reflections

2 November 2000
Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in 20th-Century France 
by Judith Butler.
Columbia, 268 pp., £12, June 1999, 0 231 06451 9
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... In 1987, three years before Gender Trouble made her the most famous feminist philosopher in the United States, Judith Butler published a book on Hegel’s dialectic of lordship and bondage and its impact on 20th-century French thought. The book had nothing to say about bondage in the recreational sense and, aside from a few pages at the end about Julia Kristeva and Simone de Beauvoir, was mostly indifferent ...

No Escape

Bruce Robbins: Culture

1 November 2001
Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress 
edited by Samuel Huntington and Lawrence Harrison.
Basic Books, 384 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 0 465 03176 5
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by Francis Mulhern.
Routledge, 198 pp., £8.99, March 2000, 0 415 10230 8
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Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 299 pp., £12.50, November 2000, 0 674 00417 5
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... Why are some nations so poor and others so rich? Two Harvard professors recently revived an old-fashioned answer to this unsettling question, and it sits plainly as the title of their book: ‘Culture Matters.’ Anyone who has ever agreed with them that culture does indeed matter will want to look at what they take this statement to mean. Adding so-called ‘Asian values’ – a more public-spirited ...

Martial Art

Bruce Robbins: Pierre Bourdieu

20 April 2006
Science of Science and Reflexivity 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Richard Nice.
Polity, 168 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 9780745630601
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... A recent French documentary about Pierre Bourdieu is entitled, after one of his own pronouncements: La Sociologie est un sport de combat. When he died in January 2002, Bourdieu was widely considered France’s leading sociologist, its most influential intellectual – and one of its angriest men. In an autobiographical fragment published within days of his death (now available as a book, Esquisse pour ...


Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy

16 November 2017
... has the capacity to destroy.’ Perhaps we might all adopt this as our slogan. ‘The desire for justice is also normal within a global tradition of storytelling that’s much larger than realism,’ BruceRobbins has argued. ‘Narrative as such poses the broader question of what circle of readers can recognise themselves at any given moment as a political collectivity or community of fate, whether in ...

Where will we live?

James Meek: The Housing Disaster

9 January 2014
... offering homes at below market rent. In the 1960s, idealists in North and West London reacted against the slum landlords’ petty exploitations and the demolition-happy dogma of the state. In 1963, Bruce Kenrick – who would a few years later set up the homelessness charity Shelter, just as the nation was absorbing the shock of Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s film about homelessness – founded the ...

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