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Humanitarian Art

Jeremy Harding: Susan Sontag, 21 August 2003

Regarding the Pain of Others 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 117 pp., £12.99, August 2003, 0 241 14207 5
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Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics 
by David LeviStrauss.
Aperture, 224 pp., £20, May 2003, 1 931788 10 3
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... you can write: He’s still alive. But in a painting or a photo you can’t show “still”.’ David LeviStrauss believes that ‘photographs by themselves certainly cannot tell “the whole truth”.’ But he knows what they can do, and he is always looking for the photograph that can show ‘still’. Where ...

Naming of Dogs

Edmund Leach, 20 March 1986

The View from Afar 
by Claude Lévi-Strauss, translated by Joachim Neugroschel and Phoebe Hoss.
Blackwell, 311 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 0 631 13966 4
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... In their French editions the titles and covers of Lévi-Strauss’s books are often designed to tease as well as to inform. They deserve attention. Tristes Tropiques is about tropes as well as tropics; Mythologiques is about odd kinds of logic as well as mythology; La Pensée Sauvage carried on its cover a picture of a wild pansy which should have warned the English publisher that The Savage Mind was hardly an adequate translation even if the author chose the latter title himself ...

Clever, or even Clever-Clever

Adam Kuper: Edmund Leach, 23 May 2002

Edmund Leach: An Anthropological Life 
by Stanley Tambiah.
Cambridge, 517 pp., £60, February 2002, 0 521 52102 5
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The Essential Edmund Leach: Vol. I: Anthropology and Society 
by Stephen Hugh-Jones and James Laidlaw.
Yale, 406 pp., £30, February 2001, 0 300 08124 3
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The Essential Edmund Leach: Vol. II: Culture and Human Nature 
by Stephen Hugh-Jones and James Laidlaw.
Yale, 420 pp., £30, February 2001, 0 300 08508 7
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... But in his own eyes he remained the gangling, untidy public school rebel, still recognisable in David Hockney’s official portrait of him as Provost. ‘Quirky, unpredictable, a believer that truth emerges from contradiction, a roughneck in argument’, according to Noel Annan, his predecessor as Provost of King’s. His friend Audrey Richards said that he ...

Djojo on the Corner

Benedict Anderson, 24 August 1995

After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist 
by Clifford Geertz.
Harvard, 198 pp., £17.95, April 1995, 0 674 00871 5
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... were born in the decade 1901-11: Margaret Mead (1901), Edward Evans-Pritchard (1902), Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908), Edmund Leach (1910), Louis Dumont and Max Gluckman (1911). They were formed in the age of Hitler and Stalin, and, in the cases of France and Britain, of impending imperial decline. The last generation came to adulthood during World War Two, and ...
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... of ‘wisdom’ is a case in point, but the same can be said of the anthropologist (Claude Lévi-Strauss), the historian (Georges Duby), the sociologist (Pierre Bourdieu), not to mention the scientist (Jean-Pierre Changeux) or even the poet (Yves Bonnefoy). Today, the Collège de France is the stuff intellectual dreams are made of. Academia has displaced ...

Melton Constable

W.R. Mead, 22 May 1986

The past is a foreign country 
by David Lowenthal.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £27.50, November 1985, 0 521 22415 2
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... those who support Save Britain’s Heritage know only too well. We live in a retrospective age and David Lowenthal’s discursive study is a product of it. One of the attractions of this book is that it enables the Melton Constables of the world to be seen in the context of the future as well as the past. David Lowenthal is ...

Liberties

Brigid Brophy, 2 October 1980

Deliberate Regression 
by Robert Harbison.
Deutsch, 264 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 233 97273 0
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... is met best by music which still bears traces of representation, operas of Wagner, early Strauss, and Debussy. Still? Still bears traces? Only Mr Harbison could have read the history of western music back to front, seeing it presumably, as a movement from the tone poems of J.S. Bach to the nearly pure abstractions of Till Eulenspiegels lustige ...

Noovs’ hoovs in the trough

Angela Carter, 24 January 1985

The Official Foodie Handbook 
by Ann Barr and Paul Levy.
Ebury, 144 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 85223 348 5
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine 
by Elizabeth David.
Hale, 318 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7090 2047 3
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Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook 
by Alice Waters, foreword by Jane Grigson .
Chatto, 340 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2820 8
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... half-crust. (‘That bread alone was worth the journey,’ they probably remark, just as Elizabeth David says of a trip to an out-of-the-way eatery in France.) Art has a morality of its own, and the aesthetics of cooking and eating aspire, in ‘foodism’, towards the heights of food-for-food’s sake. Therefore the Third World can go suck its fist.The ...

Old-Fashioned Girls

Wendy Steiner, 25 January 1990

Brain Sex: The Real Difference between Men and Women 
by Anne Moir and David Jessel.
Joseph, 228 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 7181 2884 2
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... Propp we did not know what folk-tales had in common; after him, we cannot tell them apart,’ Levi-Strauss said of Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folk-Tale. If the sexualidentity theory made men and women all but indistinguishable, Brain Sex makes it hard to imagine they belong to the same species. What would men ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... forgetting that the most severe attack on Structuralism has come from Derrida’s chapter on Lévi-Strauss in De la Grammatologie and the chapter on Jean Rousset in L’Ecriture et la Différence: where Derrida says that Structuralism may be interpreted ‘as a relaxation, if not a lapse, of the attention given to force, which is the tension of force ...

In and Out of the Panthéon

Thomas Laqueur: Funerals, politics and memory in France, 20 September 2001

Funerals, Politics and Memory in Modern France 1789-1996 
by Avner Ben-Amos.
Oxford, 425 pp., £55, October 2000, 0 19 820328 4
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Monumental Intolerance: Jean Baffier, a Nationalist Sculptor in Fin-de-Siècle France 
by Neil McWilliam.
Pennsylvania State, 326 pp., £58.95, November 2000, 0 271 01965 4
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... As Lévi-Strauss might have said, ‘the dead are good to think with.’ But the thoughts they give rise to are seldom as reassuring as one might hope. The dead, and memories of the dead, as both these books suggest, are disruptive, unruly and unpredictable. In his erudite study, Avner Ben-Amos has three cracks at analysing the way French society from the Revolution to the present has tried to come to terms with its most illustrious bodies ...

Fritz Lang and the Life of Crime

Michael Wood, 19 April 2017

... Grob, says ‘The Big Heat is finally Lang’s American pendant to the German Mabuse.’ And David Kalat, author of an excellent book on all the Mabuse incarnations, says that Debby, the character played by Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat, ‘is key to understanding Lang’s worldview, key to understanding the Mabuse genre’.Certainly The Big Heat offers ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... where they dine with his new colleagues from Brandeis. Sontag has given birth to a son, David. She studies for masters’ degrees in literature and philosophy at Harvard. Herbert Marcuse boards in their house. The tone is one of new maturity in a high-toned world, but there are also floods of tears, feelings of imprisonment, the need to die or ...

Blake’s Tone

E.P. Thompson, 28 January 1993

Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s 
by Jon Mee.
Oxford, 251 pp., £30, August 1992, 0 19 812226 8
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... Just under forty years ago David Erdman provided for William Blake historical contexts in abundance in Blake: Prophet against Empire (1954). It was a remarkable work of literary detection, which still dominates the field. Some Blake readers have felt that his attribution of correspondence between text and contemporaneous events was over-literal (as well as hazardous), and Jon Mee is one of these ...

Is there hope for U?

Christopher Tayler: Tom McCarthy, 20 May 2015

Satin Island 
by Tom McCarthy.
Cape, 192 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 224 09019 3
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... Franzen, an apostate from their ranks, helped make the ex-theorist schlub a stock character. David Foster Wallace, a true believer of sorts, envied Dostoevsky’s pre-postmodern sincerity. Then everything seemed to get turned round and I was suddenly too old to be able to speak with confidence about the totality of Western culture, or to police an ...

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