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Against Consciousness

Richard Gregory, 24 January 1980

Pavlov 
by Jeffrey Gray.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.25, September 1980, 9780006343042
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J.B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism 
by David Cohen.
Routledge, 297 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7100 0054 5
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... of the dark. His behaviourist techniques never succeeded in curing him of this fear of the dark. David Cohen makes the most of the limited material available on Watson’s early life, but we get just enough to see him, and his doubts and uncertainties, as a bright ambitious student in an undistinguished college. He moves to Chicago, carries out truly ...

My body is my own

David Miller, 31 October 1996

Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality 
by G.A. Cohen.
Cambridge, 277 pp., £40, October 1995, 0 521 47174 5
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... and giving people casts about the water is my business, which I would do for anybody.’ G.A. Cohen is one of the few socialists left today who is still drawn to this vision of an egalitarian community governed by the principle of freely-given service, and Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality can be seen as an indirect attempt to reaffirm its ...

Top-Drawer in Geneva

Michael Wood, 30 November 1995

Belle du Seigneur 
by Albert Cohen, translated by David Coward.
Viking, 974 pp., £20, November 1995, 9780670821877
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... choosing and without arguing.’ Proust’s principle is admirable, but he hadn’t read Albert Cohen, parts of whose Belle du Seigneur are so mawkishly terrible you wonder why the publishers haven’t folded from embarrassment, while other parts are brilliantly, minutely observed, mercilessly funny, a parade of social and moral dissections that make Waugh ...

British Marxism

Richard Norman, 21 February 1980

Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence 
by G.A. Cohen.
Oxford, 369 pp., £10.50, December 1978, 0 19 827196 4
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Marxism After Marx: An Introduction 
by David McLellan.
Macmillan, 355 pp., £8.95, December 1980, 0 333 72208 6
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... Is there a British Marxism? David McLellan’s new book offers, implicitly, an answer. In his comprehensive survey of ‘Marxism after Marx’, one of the 24 chapters is devoted to British Marxism – and it is almost the shortest in the book. After a brief history of the British Left, he mentions the good work of some Marxist historians and economists ...

The kind of dog he likes

W.G. Runciman: Realistic Utopias, 18 December 2014

Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy 
by David Miller.
Cambridge, 254 pp., £18.99, January 2013, 978 1 107 61375 1
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... Why ‘earthlings’​ ? David Miller isn’t drawing a contrast with justice for creatures from outer space. Nor is he taking issue directly with Ronald Dworkin’s ‘justice for hedgehogs’ in Dworkin’s book of 2011 with that title, although Miller does say in a footnote that he disagrees with him. He has in his sights the ‘neo-Augustinians’, as he calls them, like the late G ...

Tastes like Cancer

J. Robert Lennon: The Sweet'N Low dynasty, 8 March 2007

Sweet and Low 
by Rich Cohen.
Cape, 272 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 07272 4
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... with the past, and blind loyalty is the only conceivable reason to stick with the stuff. Rich Cohen’s grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, founded Cumberland Packing, the developers of both Sweet’N Low and the sugar packet itself. So you might expect the results of his own taste test to err on the side of loyalty. Nope. ‘Tastes like cancer,’ he ...

Divide and divide and divide and rule

Yonatan Mendel: The Arab-Israeli Conflict, 5 October 2016

1929: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 
by Hillel Cohen, translated by Haim Watzman.
Brandeis, 312 pp., £20, November 2015, 978 1 61168 811 5
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... ordinary people, onlookers. They, and others like them, are central figures in the work of Hillel Cohen. Neither the conventional ‘winners’ nor the stereotypical ‘losers’, they play a part in the grand political story which, though crucial, is often overlooked. Cohen was born in 1961 into a National Religious ...

House-Cleaning

David Bromwich: I met a Republican, 7 March 2019

... time) in order to allow him to assist another possibly related prosecution in Virginia.Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, was sentenced in December in a New York federal court for tax fraud, lying to Congress and paying hush money to prevent Trump’s affairs with two women coming to light during the campaign. It has since emerged that ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Running Out of Time, 8 January 2015

... pages, though some of them are pictures of sunsets and dawns over water. Iyer’s guru was Leonard Cohen, now a friend, after he went to visit him in his mountain retreat: ‘The sun was scattering diamonds across the ocean as I drove toward the deserts of the east.’ From Cohen, Iyer learned that happiness comes only if ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus, 7 November 2013

The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... not have written The Corrections to be optioned by HBO – the chamber music of our time, with David Simon our Mendelssohn – but he agreed to the option, and so the only thing that prevented his book’s debasement was an inept script that died in development. Kraus writes in Franzen’s translation: ‘To be responsive to literature, you cannot be ...

Sabre-Toothed Teacher

Colin Kidd: Cowling, 31 March 2011

The Philosophy, Politics and Religion of British Democracy: Maurice Cowling and Conservatism 
edited by Robert Crowcroft, S.J.D. Green and Richard Whiting.
I.B. Tauris, 327 pp., £54.50, August 2010, 978 1 84511 976 8
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... need not be an oxymoron or a deliberately insensitive shorthand for right-wing negativity. If David Cameron’s idea of a Big Society amounts to more than a smokescreen disguising the cuts that will lead to a Small State, then it will owe much to the theories of the Anglo-Catholic theologian Phillip Blond, whose book Red Tory was published shortly before ...

Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford, 1 June 2000

Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... troubling episodes – his father’s death, the end of his affair with a married woman, Hilda Cohen – do not have to be summoned. They announce themselves when he is least expecting them. The fragment never quite gets round either to the ‘true love’, or to the General Court Martial: like Ford himself, Morton has fallen foul of his commanding ...

On and off the page

Thomas Nagel, 25 July 1991

Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... that begins with engaging personal reminiscence and goes on to careful exegetical argument, G.A. Cohen recounts his experience as a student of Berlin’s, and then takes issue with his view of Marx as devoid of familiar moral attitudes toward social injustice, yet vindictively drawn by the prospect of a violent reckoning. Given the strategic lessons that the ...

So Hard to Handle

John Lahr: In Praise of Joni Mitchell, 22 February 2018

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell 
by David Yaffe.
Farrar, Straus, 420 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 374 24813 0
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... Hendrix noted in his diary after their first, brief meeting. ‘She just knocked me on my ass,’ David Crosby said after hearing her sing ‘Both Sides, Now’. ‘It was the highest quality of songwriting. I liked her better than Dylan.’ Crosby briefly became Mitchell’s inamorato and produced her first album. Leonard ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Alexander Hamilton’s Worst Idea, 24 October 2019

... subtext was supplied last February, in the congressional testimony by Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen: ‘Have you ever seen Mr Trump personally threaten people with physical harm?’ ‘No: he would use others.’ ‘He would hire other people to do that?’ ‘I’m not sure he had to hire them, they were already working there. Everybody’s job at ...

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