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Pareto and Elitism

Geoffrey Hawthorn

3 July 1980
The Other Pareto 
edited by Placido Bucolo.
Scolar, 308 pp., £15, April 1980, 0 85967 516 5
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Elitism 
by G. Lowell Field and John Higley.
Routledge, 135 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7100 0487 7
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Elites in Australia 
by John Higley and Don Smart.
Routledge, 317 pp., £9.50, July 1979, 9780710002228
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... Elitists are a cheerless class and Vilfredo Pareto was no exception. He certainly led a cheerless life. He gave up a career as an engineer for writing and politics, but although he succeeded Léon Walras to the Chair of Political Economy at Lausanne he never obtained an academic post in Italy itself, and on the two occasions on which he stood for parliament in that country he was defeated (as he saw ...

Family Values

Michael Wood

17 October 1996
The Last Don 
by Mario Puzo.
Heinemann, 482 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 0 434 60498 4
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... but he spoke too soon. We might feel the same about the situation proposed by the title of Mario Puzo’s new novel, now sitting comfortably at number four in the New York Times bestseller list. Don Domenico Clericuzio, the ageing mobster grandee in this book, is said to have led his family to ‘the very heights of power’, using only the instruments of ‘a Borgia-like cruelty and a ...

Success

Marilyn Butler

18 November 1982
The Trouble of an Index: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. XII 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 166 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 7195 3885 8
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Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 404 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 7195 3974 9
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Byron 
by Frederic Raphael.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 500 01278 4
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Byron’s Political and Cultural Influence in 19th-Century Europe: A Symposium 
edited by Paul Graham Trueblood.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 333 29389 4
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Byron and Joyce through Homer 
by Hermione de Almeida.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 333 30072 6
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Byron: A Poet Before His Public 
by Philip Martin.
Cambridge, 253 pp., £18.50, July 1982, 0 521 24186 3
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... invites comparison with Byron’s prose. Byron for example has: ‘From that moment I began to grow old in my own esteem – and in my esteem age is not estimable.’ Raphael writes of ‘a smart touch of heterodoxy, the most consistent of all Byron’s doxies’. He quotes Byron’s own reminiscence of his cousin, Margaret Parker, ‘one of the most beautiful of evanescent beings’, only to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miami Vice’

17 August 2006
Miami Vice 
directed by Michael Mann.
August 2006
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... others. But the other, complementary theory of the series’ origin names a news story about vice cops using repossessed goods as a glossy cover for their assumed criminal characters. This is why Don Johnson drives a Ferrari and has two fancy boats. Miami Vice, the title, sounds more like the name of a rock group or a basketball team than a police department, but the series has its interesting ...

Kinsfolk

D.A.N. Jones

12 July 1990
A Sort of Clowning: Life and Times, 1940-59 
by Richard Hoggart.
Chatto, 225 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7011 3607 3
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Tilting at Don​ Quixote 
by Nicholas Wollaston.
Deutsch, 314 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 233 98551 4
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Finger Lickin’ Good: A Kentucky Childhood 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 202 pp., £13.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3521 2
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How Many Miles to Babylon? 
by Adewale Maja-Pearce.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 434 44172 4
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... and King’s College, Cambridge, where his father, a celebrated explorer, was a tutor. In the wartime Navy, his officer-like qualities, his OLQ, were favourably remarked. However, Tilting at Don Quixote is a desperate sort of memoir, sometimes almost distraught. Wollaston has long been haunted by a remark from his Winchester schoolmaster, suggesting that it was impossible for him to be ...

A Little Bit of Showing Off

Adam Phillips: Isherwood’s 1960s

6 January 2011
The Sixties: Diaries 1960-69 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 756 pp., £30, November 2010, 978 0 7011 6940 4
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... This is a period without glamour,’ Isherwood writes in a diary entry for 18 May 1962, apropos his lover Don Bachardy’s birthday. ‘He blames me because his birthday isn’t marvellous, and I would blame him under the same circumstances.’ Isherwood feared these times without glamour – if they were ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Cold fish at the royal household

20 November 2003
... Shortly before one o’clock, she ‘often made herself a large glass of her favourite pre-luncheon tipple, gin and Dubonnet, in equal half measures, with two lumps of ice and a slice of lemon’. I don’t suppose this practice originated with George III, but you never know. Burrell once entered the royal sitting-room, ‘late at night, not long before bedtime, and there she sat, in a smart silk ...

Beware of counterfeits

Dror Wahrman: 18th-century fakery

6 June 2002
The Perreaus and Mrs Rudd: Forgery and Betrayal in 18th-Century London 
by Donna Andrew and Randall McGowen.
California, 346 pp., £24.95, November 2001, 0 520 22062 5
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The SmartThe True Story of Margaret Caroline Rudd and the Unfortunate Perreau Brothers 
by Sarah Bakewell.
Chatto, 321 pp., £17.99, April 2001, 9780701171094
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...  momentarily – into James Boswell’s arms, and then into a life of poverty and relative obscurity. Donna Andrew and Randall McGowen’s The Perreaus and Mrs Rudd and Sarah Bakewell’s The Smart both tell the same story, but approach it in very different ways. Bakewell’s eloquent version reads rather like an 18th-century romance. Andrew and McGowen, on the other hand, situate the story in ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre

20 November 2003
Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... narrow, raucous, too often mistaking noise for vividness. On the back, Andrew O’Hagan rightly characterises its effect as ‘like the Osbournes invited the Simpsons round for a root beer, and Don DeLillo dropped by to help them write a new song for Eminem,’ without telling us why that particular party would be enjoyable or even tolerable. Pierre’s splendour is the creation of a voice ...

At the Movies

Andrew O’Hagan: M. Night Shyamalan

17 July 2008
The Happening 
directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
June 2008
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... makes a second great hit, in Hollywood he is no longer a genius but a prophet. His relationship with reality is then likely to be beyond talking about, and unlike the successful novelist, say, or the smart young painter, a director (owing to his relationship with millions of dollars and a prideful notion of the masses) will often disappear in a miasma of tasteless lunacy. There have been many such ...

Being there

Ian Hamilton

7 October 1993
Up at Oxford 
by Ved Mehta.
Murray, 432 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 0 7195 5287 7
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... co-students also take this view? At dinner he overheard two of them locked in literary-critical debate. ‘All Irish writing is boring,’ said one. ‘What about Yeats?’ replied the other. ‘I don’t like poetry.’ ‘And Beckett?’ ‘Pointless drivel.’ My God, he thought, so this was what father had warned him to expect: such self-confidence, such nerveless poise. At another table ...

Absolutely Bleedin’ Obvious

Ian Sansom: Will Self

6 July 2006
The Book of Dave 
by Will Self.
Viking, 496 pp., £17.99, June 2006, 0 670 91443 6
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... prose laureate of dispute and disorientation, his books one long pinball ricochet of rage, a whizzing, clanking silver-balled whirr of grievances against the rich, the poor, the middle classes, the smart, the stupid, men, women, progress, change, order, chaos, the secular, the religious, and all of human endeavour. In a startling essay written to accompany Perfidious Man (2000), David Gamble’s book ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone

1 October 1998
Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... American realism, once a belief, is now an idle liberty. Writers such as Robert Stone, Joan Didion, John Irving and even Don DeLillo, are praised for their ‘realism’, for the solidity of their plots, the patience of their characterisation, the capillary spread of their social portraits, the leverage of their political ...

Diary

Ian Gilmour: Our Ignominious Government

23 May 1996
... in places, and Auden’s verse ‘Letter to Lord Byron’ is a triumph, though not in the same league as the great man himself; surprisingly, Auden uses a seven-line stanza instead of the eight of Don Juan. Auden and MacNeice’s ‘Last Will and Testament’ which ends the book contains the lines:                     and for our intelligent island pray That to her virtuous ...
4 April 1985
The Man from the USSR, and Other Plays 
by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Dmitri Nabokov.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, February 1985, 0 297 78596 6
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... affairs for such a gifted ghost, even allowing for their modest academic occasions and for the fact that the published texts (Lectures on Literature, Lectures on Russian Literature, Lectures on Don Quixote) represent scripts and drafts rather than the things themselves. Nabokov’s lectures, like his cramped and prickly prefaces, mainly serve to highlight the marvels of his fiction, where the ...

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