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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 ...
31 October 1996
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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... also published in 1991, Adventures on the Freedom Road – which was both a book and a television film). This probably explains why these contemporary intellectuals, however obsessed they may be by the course of History, seem frozen in time. As Lévy himself points out, the parts pre-exist the actors in what could best be called an intellectual ...

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 ...
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 ...
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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... out of the moral scenario in which there is an implicit reprimand to greed in the constantly televised spectacle of the gaunt peasants who have trudged miles across drought-devastated terrain to score their scant half-crust. (‘That bread alone was worth the journey,’ they probably remark, just as Elizabeth David says ...

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 ...
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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... rules. After the first rush of acceptance, however, one begins to worry. The authors work in television studios rather than laboratories (although Anne Moir earned a doctorate in genetics long ago), and Brain Sex reads like a pop-science best-seller – repetitive, simplistic, cute, with the odd blooper making it hard to trust the authors’ wilder ...

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 ...

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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

The Force of the Anomaly

Perry Anderson: Carlo Ginzburg

26 April 2012
Threads and Traces: True False Fictive 
by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by Anne Tedeschi and John Tedeschi.
California, 328 pp., £20.95, January 2012, 978 0 520 25961 4
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... Dante, Boccaccio, More, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Hobbes, Bayle, Voltaire, Sterne, Diderot, David, Stendhal, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Warburg, Proust, Kracauer, Picasso and many more, each an extraordinary display of learning. No other living historian approaches the range of this erudition. Every page of Threads and Traces, his latest work to appear in ...

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