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Men’s Work

Adam Kuper: Lévi-Strauss, 24 June 2004

Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Formative Years 
by Christopher Johnson.
Cambridge, 208 pp., £40, February 2003, 0 521 01667 3
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... bunny girls was a masterstroke of totemic intelligence. Were they available or were they not?) Christopher Johnson is a knowledgable and helpful guide to the development of Lévi-Strauss’s thought up to the publication of La Pensée sauvage in 1962. The full scope of Lévi-Strauss’s project was to unfold in Mythologiques, his monumental series of ...

Mental Processes

Christopher Longuet-Higgins, 4 August 1988

The Computer and the Mind: An Introduction to Cognitive Science 
by P.N. Johnson-Laird.
Harvard/Fontana, 444 pp., £23.50, May 1988, 0 674 15615 3
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... curable by a healthy dose of realism and clear thought? In The Computer and the Mind Philip Johnson-Laird, one of our leading cognitive psychologists, escorts the educated layman through the fantastic landscape of ‘cognitive science’ – the modern science of the mind, and of possible minds. The idea that there might be laws of thought transcending ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... it in dogmatic opposition to Europe – one conviction he held in common with his predecessor Paul Johnson. To the paper’s role as a mouthpiece of party and an organ of faction he added the role of a megaphone for petty chauvinism. Then came the redesign, with empty logos and ill-sorted photographs. Then the utter want of attention to style (Howard is very ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... was not to know, in 1989, that she has yet to become a wasm in 2013. In August of the same year, Christopher Hitchens argued that Brown had underrated her in his recent book about her. Credibility ‘operates to the benefit of the people who really mean what they say, which is why the facts of life have been Tory for so long.’ The electorate was presently ...

How would Richelieu and Mazarin have coped?

R.W. Johnson: Henry Kissinger, 20 September 2001

The Trial of Henry Kissinger 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 159 pp., £15, May 2001, 1 85984 631 9
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... In this short book, Christopher Hitchens sets down the main charges against Kissinger: murder, violation of human rights and complicity in mass atrocities on a scale equalled only by Eichmann, Heydrich and the like. As Hitchens admits, he isn’t the first: Joseph Heller in Good as Gold was as blunt about it all as it was possible to be ...

Beast and Frog

John Bayley, 4 November 1993

Dr Johnson & Mr Savage 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 260 pp., £19.99, October 1993, 0 340 52974 1
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Samuel Johnson 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 116 pp., £4.99, April 1993, 0 19 287593 0
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... see but not experience: living is necessarily independent of it. In his study of Samuel Beckett, Christopher Ricks says that we desire both oblivion and eternity; but except in the insidiously artificial world of writers like Beckett, who make death a cliché within the life of language, neither of these wishes makes much sense. Dr ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: Hitchens, 31 March 2011

... I heard a few bars of Chris Corner’s song ‘I Salute You Christopher’ a day or so before the new IAMX album, Volatile Times, was released. The song, which appears on the album, is subtitled ‘Ode to Christopher Hitchens’: I salute you Christopher I salute your life How you played the dice … That ‘played’, in the past tense, has the ring of a funeral bell and a cracked one at that ...

Hindsight Tickling

Christopher Tayler: Disappointing sequels, 21 October 2004

The Closed Circle 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 433 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 670 89254 8
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... In Like a Fiery Elephant, his recent biography of B.S. Johnson,* Jonathan Coe writes feelingfully about the perils of too much Eng. Lit. He ‘emerged from the experience of reading English at Cambridge’, he explains in the introduction, ‘imbued with a thriving, unshakeable contempt for anyone who had had the temerity to attempt the writing of literature in the last seventy or eighty years ...

The Positions He Takes

John Barrell: Hitchens on Paine, 30 November 2006

Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’: A Biography 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2006, 1 84354 513 6
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... the rights of man are to be upheld in a dark time, we shall require an age of reason,’ wrote Christopher Hitchens last year on the dust jacket of Harvey Kaye’s recent book on Paine.* And as if to reinforce that message, he has now himself published a little book on Paine, a ‘biography’ of Rights of Man. It begins with a dedication, ‘by ...

I am not a world improver

Christopher Turner: Building Seagram, 6 February 2014

Building Seagram 
by Phyllis Lambert.
Yale, 306 pp., £45, January 2013, 978 0 300 16767 2
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Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography 
by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst.
Chicago, 493 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 226 15145 8
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... her valiant attempt to bring a bohemian spirit to a corporate building. With the help of Philip Johnson, MoMA’s first architecture curator, who had recently set up his own practice, Lambert spent six weeks travelling around America interviewing the most prominent practitioners of the International Style. She divided them into three categories: those who ...

Beddoes’ Best Thing

C.H. Sisson, 20 September 1984

The Force of Poetry 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 447 pp., £19.50, September 1984, 0 19 811722 1
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... rather than the poet whose name appears in the title. The poets are Gower, Marvell, Milton, Johnson, Wordsworth and Beddoes, together with a handful of 20th-century poets from A.E. Housman to Geoffrey Hill. In Wordsworth we are to attend particularly to line-endings and to prepositions, in Marvell to ‘a particular figure of speech’, in Gower to ...

Ages of the Train

Christopher Driver, 8 January 1987

The Railway Station: A Social History 
by Jeffrey Richards and John MacKenzie.
Oxford, 440 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 19 215876 7
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The Railways of Britain: A Journey through History 
by Jack Simmons.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £15.95, May 1986, 0 333 40766 0
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... for many years in the Good Food Guide in spite of a correspondent’s happy description: ‘Mr Johnson is in the bar, and by the end of the evening the bar is in Mr Johnson.’ Even more successful as a machine à habiter is the suburban station occupied by the music critic of the Irish Times, who enjoys a mile or two of ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve, 1 December 1983

Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... and write about it. There seem to be two positions: a modest one, a way of liking opera, as Frank Johnson does, on the quiet, without shouting about it, and an orgiastic one, where one is cosmically-life-affirmingly-overwhelmed by it, as Bernard Levin is. What we are talking about when we talk about opera becomes an intriguing moral moment. People who talk ...

No Restraint

John Demos: Chief Much Business, 9 February 2006

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Faber, 402 pp., £20, August 2005, 0 571 21840 7
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... boundary-crossing, opens Fintan O’Toole’s White Savage, on the fascinating career of William Johnson in 18th-century British America. Though well-known to scholars, Johnson’s story has not hitherto received the notice it deserves from the general readers who are clearly targeted here. O’Toole plans two follow-up ...

Further Left

R.W. Johnson, 16 August 1990

Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Hogarth, 357 pp., £9.99, July 1990, 0 7012 0903 8
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Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 398 pp., £18, July 1990, 0 7011 3361 9
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... Not long after, the discussion group was disbanded. The gatecrasher’s name, we learnt, was Christopher Hitchens, and he apparently did this sort of thing rather often, being famous for a sort of pyrotechnic brashness. Looking back, one realises that these were entirely apposite qualities for the successful journalist, which is very much what Hitchens ...

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