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Revolutionary Yoke

William Doyle: Le Nationalisme

27 June 2002
The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism 1680-1800 
by David A. Bell.
Harvard, 304 pp., £30.95, November 2001, 0 674 00447 7
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... government rather than opposition was memorably analysed ten years ago by Linda Colley in Britons. David Bell, a colleague of Colley when she was writing that book, now offers a parallel analysis of the French case. It has often been claimed that the French Revolution invented nationalism. Bell goes further, arguing ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: At the Test Match

6 September 2001
... In the piece by David Bell elsewhere in this issue, a number of lines from an 18th-century French poem are quoted fearlessly in the original. At one time, the question of whether or not to translate them would never have arisen, the editors of a paper like this assuming that a sufficiently high proportion of its readers were comfortable with French for a translation to be both patronising and redundant ...
18 September 1980
Philosophical and Mathematical Correspondence 
by Gottlob Frege, translated by Hans Kaal, edited by Brian McGuinness.
Blackwell, 214 pp., £15, March 1980, 9780631196204
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Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege 
edited by Peter Geach and Max Black.
Blackwell, 228 pp., £12, July 1980, 0 631 12901 4
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Frege’s Theory of Judgement 
by David Bell.
Oxford, 163 pp., £8.50, July 1979, 0 19 827423 8
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Gottlob Frege 
by Hans Sluga.
Routledge, 203 pp., £12.95, July 1980, 0 7100 0474 5
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... rendering a great deal of commentary unintelligible. Of the two books about Frege under review. Bell’s is decidedly the better. It is ambitious in scope, but modest in tone, and engages seriously both with Frege’s thought and with the philosophical problems he tried to solve. The title is unpromising. Frege complained of the conventional use of the word ...

Her face was avant-garde

Christian Lorentzen: DeLillo’s Stories

9 February 2012
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 211 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 4472 0757 3
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... a road novel midway and ends with a sloppy orgy in the Texas desert. The ever ironical narrator, David Bell, is fond of making statements like ‘I was an extremely handsome young man,’ and worships at the altar of Burt Lancaster: ‘Burt in the moonlight was a crescendo of male perfection but no less human because of it.’ ‘I don’t think my ...

Simple Facts and Plain Truths

David A. Bell: Common Sense

20 October 2011
Common Sense: A Political History 
by Sophia Rosenfeld.
Harvard, 337 pp., £22.95, 0 674 05781 3
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... facts’, ‘plain truth’ and the ‘simple voice of nature’ to justify America’s rebellion against Britain. As Rosenfeld notes, he also denounced ‘complexity or ambiguity in reasoning or expression as evidence of falsity or manipulation’, coming uncomfortably close to the present-day populists who mock economists and climate scientists for ...
18 December 1980
Healey’s Eye 
by Denis Healey.
Cape, 191 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 224 01793 4
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The Role of the Trade Unions: The Granada Guildhall Lectures 
by James Prior, Tony Benn and Lionel Murray.
Granada, 96 pp., £1, August 1980, 0 586 05386 7
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Rank and File 
by Hugh Jenkins.
Croom Helm, 179 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0331 6
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The Tragedy of Labour 
by Stephen Haseler.
Blackwell, 249 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780631113416
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Labour into the Eighties 
edited by David Bell.
Croom Helm, 168 pp., £9.95, September 1980, 0 7099 0443 6
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... much and no more than the weight of evidence adduced in support of them. So with relief we turn to David Bell’s collection of essays by ten academics and the secretary of the Fabian Society, most of whom have had a good deal of varied practical experience at home or abroad. Their names may not be household words even in Labour circles, but without ...

Global Moods

Peter Campbell: Art, Past and Present

29 November 2007
Mirror of the World: A New History of Art 
by Julian Bell.
Thames and Hudson, 496 pp., £24.95, October 2007, 978 0 500 23837 0
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... Julian Bell has written a tremendous history of world art, one that will inevitably be compared with Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published nearly sixty years ago. Since then image-making technologies that seemed mature have changed and expanded their reach. In 1950 we lived in an image flood. We are now, as Bell puts it, in an image jam ...

Peasants in Arms

Geoffrey Hosking: Russia v. Napoleon

3 December 2009
Russia against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814 
by Dominic Lieven.
Allen Lane, 618 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 7139 9637 1
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... book will undoubtedly become the standard account of the Russian aspect of the Napoleonic wars. David Bell has recently argued that Napoleon introduced ‘total war’ to Europe. Following the 1789 Revolution, all male Frenchmen, on reaching a certain age, were called up as citizens to the armed forces. As a result of the levée en masse the French ...

A Long Silence

David A. Bell: ‘Englishness’

14 December 2000
Englishness Identified: Manners and Character, 1650-1850 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 389 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780198206811
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... The Americans have ‘American exceptionalism’. The French have ‘l’exception française’. The Germans have ‘der deutsche Sonderweg’. The English, on the other hand, have no equivalent catchphrase: it seems they take their exceptionality so much for granted that they don’t even bother putting a name to it. Does such a thing as ‘Englishness’ really exist? Most current thinking on national identities suggests that it doesn’t ...

Ruling the Roast

David A. Bell: A Nation of Beefeaters

25 September 2003
Beef and Liberty: Roast Beef, John Bull and the English Nation 
by Ben Rogers.
Chatto, 207 pp., £17.99, April 2003, 9780701169800
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... At moments of stress, depression or grief, my thoughts turn irresistibly towards the golden arches of McDonald’s. Usually, I find the food repellent, but there are times when nothing can soothe my wounded American spirit like the famous ‘two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame-seed bun’. Yes, the burgers are assembled from the meat of dozens of separate animals, then flash frozen in a distant factory ...

A State Jew

David A. Bell: Léon Blum

5 November 2015
Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist 
by Pierre Birnbaum, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Yale, 218 pp., £14.99, July 2015, 978 0 300 18980 3
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... The​ newspaper Action française habitually referred to Léon Blum, France’s Socialist leader, as the ‘warlike Hebrew’ and the ‘circumcised Narbonnais’ (he represented a constituency in Narbonne). On 13 February 1936, Blum was being driven away from the National Assembly when he encountered a group of ultra-right-wing militants who had gathered at the intersection of the rue de l’Université and the boulevard Saint-Germain for the funeral procession of Jacques Bainville, one of the founders of Action française, a reactionary political movement as well as a newspaper ...

At Dulwich

Alice Spawls: Vanessa Bell

17 May 2017
... It​ seems to be a foregone conclusion that Vanessa Bell isn’t much good. There are those devoted types, of course, for whom the sensibility of her paintings, as well as their subjects, makes them windows into a beloved world. But perhaps they are seeing something more than this. If so, it shouldn’t be surprising; they have been looking the longest ...

All This Love Business

Jean McNicol: Vanessa and Julian Bell

24 January 2013
Julian BellFrom Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War 
by Peter Stansky and William Abrahams.
Stanford, 314 pp., £38.95, 0 8047 7413 7
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... Julian Bell returned briefly to England in the spring of 1937. He was 29; he had been teaching in China for 18 months and was now determined to fight in Spain. Everyone knew this was his plan, or rather everyone except his mother, Vanessa, whom Julian had told that he might not go, that ‘of course it would depend on my persuading you ...

One Does It Like This

David A. Bell: Talleyrand

16 November 2006
Napoleon’s Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand 
by David Lawday.
Cape, 386 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 224 07366 4
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... there. The two most familiar images of the men express the contrast eloquently. First, there is David’s brilliant portrait of Napoleon on his rearing charger in the Alps, seemingly master of the wind, rocks and sky; second, Chateaubriand’s acid description of Talleyrand hobbling into the presence of Louis XVIII with the help of Napoleon’s sinister ...

Iraq Must Go!

Charles Glass: The Making and Unmaking of Iraq

3 October 2002
... political officer, who later became the High Commissioner in Baghdad, and his assistant, Gertrude Bell, intrigued among the tribes and urban notables to bolster British rule: the unsought emancipator had come to stay. To administer a greater Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq, the British imposed a centralised system on peoples accustomed to the autonomy afforded ...

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