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Are we any better?

Gisela Striker, 19 August 1993

Shame and Necessity 
by Bernard Williams.
California, 254 pp., £25, May 1993, 0 520 08046 7
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... sense. Bernard Williams rightly and proudly points to the precedent of one of his teachers, E.R. Dodds, whose The Greeks and the Irrational, published in 1951, remains one of the glories of the series. When Williams says in the preface to his own lectures that he is not primarily a Classical scholar, this is not meant as an apology: it simply tells us that ...

Smartened Up

Ian Hamilton, 9 March 1995

Louis MacNeice: A Biography 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Faber, 538 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 571 16019 0
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... to a prompt post-mortem. In 1940, anticipating a biography, he sent his friend and mentor E.R. Dodds a list of what he called ‘the best authorities’ on his life so far, ‘though each only from a certain angle’. He was 33 at the time and half-joking but a year earlier he had begun work on an autobiography, The Strings Are False. He had also recently ...

Defence of poetry

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 3 July 1980

Enemies of Poetry 
by W.B. Stanford.
Routledge, 181 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0460 5
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The Idea of a Theatre: the Greek Experience 
by M.I. Finley.
British Museum, 16 pp., £95, February 1980, 0 7141 1267 4
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... to observe, but the path they chose was the right one, and has led to the important work of E.R. Dodds in this country, Karl Meuli and his followers in Germany and Switzerland, and Louis Gernet and his school in France. These scholars have made a careful study of the new disciplines whose methods they have used, and have done so with all proper caution. That ...

Don’t forget the primitive

Mary Beard, 20 August 1992

Origins of the Sacred: The Ecstasies of Love and War 
by Dudley Young.
Little, Brown, 379 pp., £16.99, May 1992, 0 356 20628 9
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... of the effects of Greek ‘rationality’, for example, looks like a blown-up version of E.R. Dodds (The Greeks and the Irrational) – minus Dodds’s subtlety and (to be honest) intelligence. Nonetheless there is something exhilarating about the vigour with which both Bernal and Young attack that old, familiar myth of ...

Modern Prejudice

M.I. Finley, 2 December 1982

Blood for the Ghosts: Classical Influences in the 19th and 20th Centuries 
by Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Duckworth, 312 pp., £24, May 1982, 0 7156 1500 9
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Classical Survivals: The Classics in the Modern World 
by Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Duckworth, 184 pp., £18, May 1982, 0 7156 1517 3
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History of Classical Scholarship 
by U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, translated by Alan Harris.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £18, February 1982, 0 7156 0976 9
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... ancient thought, at least in some degree, without importing modern prejudices.’ Murray and E.R. Dodds, his two predecessors in the chair, had both made the attempt, ‘and I shall do anything I can to follow them.’ The two closely linked themes that dominate these books are announced here and reiterated time and again: one is the contrast, indeed the ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice, 7 February 2008

Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... been more wrong. Within months, MacNeice’s friend and first employer, the Greek scholar E.R. Dodds, brought out The Strings Are False, a book of unrevised lectures called Varieties of Parable and a Collected Poems. Even now, with Peter McDonald’s intelligently re-edited Collected, we do not have all the MacNeice we could ask for. As McDonald points ...

Tolkien’s Spell

Peter Godman, 21 July 1983

The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays 
by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Christopher Tolkien .
Allen and Unwin, 240 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 04 809019 0
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TheRoad to Middle-Earth 
by T.A. Shippey.
Allen and Unwin, 252 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 04 809018 2
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Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode 
 by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Alan Bliss.
Allen and Unwin, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 04 829003 3
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... surprising, for Tolkien, unlike literary and linguistic scholars such as Erich Auerbach and E.R. Dodds who achieved and deserved fame in this century, was not an intellectual. The reasons why one might take up his scholarship or his fiction are not the same as those that make us read Mimesis or The Greeks and the Irrational – books that transformed, and ...

Straight Talk

Mary Beard, 9 February 1995

Marginal Comment 
by Kenneth Dover.
Duckworth, 271 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7156 2630 2
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... scattered with the names of the poets, writers and artists of his generation), but also with E.R. Dodds (Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford between 1936 and 1960) whose autobiography Missing Persons rather outclasses Dover in subtlety, style and reticence. Dodds was a much nicer person than Bowra, but (with as little ...

What kept Hector and Andromache warm in windy Troy?

David Simpson: ‘Vehement Passions’, 19 June 2003

The Vehement Passions 
by Philip Fisher.
Princeton, 268 pp., £18.95, May 2002, 0 691 06996 4
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... the manipulations of the gods. Are we to take these claims as face-saving excuses, or (with E.R. Dodds) as serious beliefs? How can we tell? To respond to the portrayal of a passion by identifying with it as casual modern readers do proves only the modern belief in that passion, not its historical existence in the Homeric world in the same form. And if ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray, 20 January 2000

Thackeray 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... known, even during Thackeray’s lifetime, that his wife had gone mad, it was assumed, as E.R. Dodds put it in his pre-Ray Life, that Isabella was afflicted by a ‘cloud of gentle insanity’. In fact her descent into lunacy was shockingly violent. The climax came during a three-day sea crossing from London to Cork (Isabella’s family lived in ...

Apollo’s Ethylene

Peter Green: Delphi, 2 July 2014

Delphi: A History of the Centre of the Ancient World 
by Michael Scott.
Princeton, 422 pp., £19.95, February 2014, 978 0 691 15081 9
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... mythos into logos at every turn, and so we tend to assume (despite the salutary lessons of E.R. Dodds in The Greeks and the Irrational) that our kind of scepticism about such things as oracles must have been generally shared by them too, especially by Athenians. Such an assumption is about as securely based as those evil demons progressive thinking has so ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice, 3 March 2011

Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... of the U-boats, he wrote to his literary executor and old friend, the Oxford professor E.R. Dodds: In case any mug wants to publish any of my letters … I do not want any letters to my father or stepmother to be published as they nearly always contain some falsity. I also regret most of my undergraduate letters (esp. to Anthony Blunt) which are nearly ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... As an Assistant Lecturer in Classics at Birmingham University he made lifelong friends of E.R. Dodds and Ernest Stahl, but evidently had mixed feelings about teaching and perhaps about provincial living: ‘Qu’allais-je faire dans cette galère?’ He was not the first Protestant Ulsterman to seem frugal of speech and déraciné. Perhaps his difficulties ...

Keeping the show on the road

John Kerrigan, 6 November 1986

Tribute to Freud 
by H. D.
Carcanet, 194 pp., £5.95, August 1985, 0 85635 599 2
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In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism 
edited by Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane.
Virago, 291 pp., £11.95, October 1985, 0 86068 712 0
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The Essentials of Psychoanalysis 
by Sigmund Freud, edited by Anna Freud.
Hogarth/Institute of Psychoanalysis, 595 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 7012 0720 5
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Freud and the Humanities 
edited by Peregrine Horden.
Duckworth, 186 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 7156 1983 7
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Freud for Historians 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.50, January 1986, 0 19 503586 0
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The Psychoanalytic Movement 
by Ernest Gellner.
Paladin, 241 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 586 08436 3
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The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art 
by Leo Bersani.
Columbia, 126 pp., $17.50, April 1986, 0 231 06218 4
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... learned so much from Freud, forgot to mention him in his work on the Puritan family. As for E.R. Dodds, it’s unscrupulous of Gay to offer his Greeks and the Irrational as exemplary Freudian scholarship when its debts to Nietzsche and Malinowski are so clear, and when Classicists are, on the whole, so careful to distinguish between its doubtful paradigms ...

The Game of Death

A.D. Nuttall, 11 June 1992

... On the one hand, we have Nietzsche and his epigoni, Cornford, Jane Harrison, Gilbert Murray, E.R. Dodds, A.W.H. Adkins telling us as a matter of scholarship that the ancient world in general and ancient tragedy in particular were permeated by religion, and on the other hand we have Aristotle. The prime peculiarity for 20th-century readers (though not for any ...

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