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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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... more coherent than the past was when it happened. History has its predicaments. In the opinion of Edward Shils, it is being undone by ‘technology, rationality and government policy’. More importantly, it suffers from the disappearance of a broad ‘consensually-shared past’. The removal of Classical history from most teaching syllabuses, the ...

Pull as archer, in lbs

Mary Beard, 5 September 1996

Cambridge Women: Twelve Portraits 
edited by Edward Shils and Carmen Blacker.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 521 48344 1
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A Woman in History: Eileen Power 1889-1940 
by Maxine Berg.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £45, April 1996, 0 521 40278 6
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... got what they wanted; that virtue and patience were ultimately rewarded. The Introduction, by Edward Shils, to Cambridge Women, a collection of essays on the lives of 12 (dead) women more or less – and some pretty remotely – connected with the University, is an extreme example of this second approach. He praises the Cambridge women of the ...

Living within the truth

Onora O’Neill, 13 June 1991

The Political Responsibility of Intellectuals 
edited by Ian MacLean, Alan Montefiore and Peter Winch.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £27.50, December 1990, 0 521 39179 2
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... life is now nearly always politically funded and structured. A more traditional view is urged by Edward Shils, who contends that intellectuals always work within traditions, to which they feel primary responsibility. On the whole, Shils admires ‘institution intellectuals’, who can be exonerated for their lessened ...

Mass-Observation in the Mall

Ross McKibbin, 2 October 1997

... stimulation very attractive to young adults. Again, this is not as new as it appears: the future Edward VIII, as Prince of Wales, carefully cultivated his relationships with the stars of prewar popular culture and that – what in the interwar years was always called ‘glamour’ – was undoubtedly an element in his enormous popularity. Then, too, the ...

The Unstoppable Upward

James Wolcott: ‘The Life of Saul Bellow’, 24 January 2019

The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 864 pp., £35, November 2018, 978 0 224 10188 2
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... interest is the section where Atlas gives a draft of the work in progress to the social scientist Edward Shils – a long-time colleague and frenemy of Bellow’s at the University of Chicago – to vet for errors, misemphases, solecisms and overall tone and conditioning, much as the critic Dwight Macdonald had served as the gruff, avuncular sounding ...

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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... at the tail end. The second generation 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 ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... main event, from the point of view of sheer scandal, was a series of furious clashes between Mr Shils and William [Phillips], on the subject of mass culture, naturally. I swear Shils is Dr Pangloss reborn and without Dr Pangloss’s charm and innocence. I said so, in almost as many words, when I got into the fight ...

How far shall I take this character?

Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography, 2 November 2000

Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
Faber, 686 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 14356 3
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... after that, his colleague and formerly close friend at the University of Chicago, the sociologist Edward Shils, sent a shrewd note of caution to Allan Bloom: ‘Better watch out for Saul today; he’s in a bad mood. The Nobel Prize is being announced, and you can’t win twice.’ Most of the appeasements he does manage to achieve are self-bestowed. They ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... ally: the tomblike secrecy in which government was then conducted. The American sociologist Edward Shils pointed out that ‘the British ruling class is unequalled in secretiveness and taciturnity … No ruling class discloses as little of its confidential proceedings as does the British.’ Nothing leaked: not the lies the government told about ...

Is It Glamorous?

David Simpson: Stefan Collini among the Intellectuals, 6 March 2008

Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 544 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 19 929105 5
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... model of a tightly related British intellectual aristocracy driving the national culture, and Edward Shils’s celebration of postwar Britain as a haven for intellectuals (‘Outside the China of the Mandarins, no great society has ever had a body of intellectuals so integrated with, and so congenial to, its ruling class, and so combining civility ...

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