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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: King Charles the Martyr, 21 February 2019

... country to the concept of prorogation – the suspension of Parliament by the monarch. Like Boris Johnson, Rees-Mogg is fond of bogus erudition – the Brexit white paper was, he said, ‘the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Philip II at Le Goulet in 1200’ – and he must have enjoyed expressing his hope that it would ‘not be necessary ...

‘No Bullshit’ Bullshit

Stefan Collini: Christopher Hitchens, Englishman, 23 January 2003

Orwell's Victory 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Allen Lane, 150 pp., £9.99, June 2002, 9780713995848
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... Winning is very important to Christopher Hitchens. Dr Johnson was said to ‘talk for victory’, and by all accounts it seems the same might be said of Hitchens. He certainly writes for victory. His preferred genre is the polemic; his favoured tone mixes forensic argument with high-octane contempt ...

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 ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Clark: What would Bismarck do?, 26 September 2019

... would Bismarck do?’ is something that Dominic Cummings, political playmaker to Boris Johnson, who has been ‘gaming’ the current crisis all summer, has often asked himself. We know this because Cummings’s sprawling and fantastically self-revealing blog (still live at the time of writing) is punctuated with thoughts about Bismarck. For ...

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