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2 February 1984
Course in General Linguistics 
by Ferdinand de Saussure, translated by Roy Harris.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £24, March 1983, 0 7156 1738 9
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Semiotic Perspectives 
by Sandor Hervey.
Allen and Unwin, 273 pp., £15, September 1982, 9780044000266
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... With Chomsky seemingly off the stage – exit left, the script reads, brooding on the sins of American foreign policy – it is now or never for FerdinanddeSaussure to take his place. One theorist of language at a time is probably all the popular awareness has room for, and over the past twenty years Chomsky has been it, investing grammar with a new, deep-seated ...

The [ ] walked down the street

Michael Silverstein: Saussure

8 November 2012
Saussure 
by John Joseph.
Oxford, 780 pp., £30, March 2012, 978 0 19 969565 2
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... FerdinanddeSaussure, who died in 1913 at the age of 55, sowed the seeds of structuralist thought that first took root in linguistics, then effloresced throughout the 20th century in fields as seemingly distinct as ...
2 July 1981
The Talking Cure: Essays in Psychoanalysis and Language 
edited by Colin MacCabe.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 333 23560 6
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... a long time. Even in 1966, a friendly commentator, Anthony Wilden (not mentioned here), was complaining that many of Lacan’s writings had been allowed to go out of print! The concept of stadede miroir which is of ‘crucial importance from Lacan’s viewpoint’ dates from 1936. The same commentator remarked that the best introduction to the thought of Lacan was a lecture given in 1946 ...

Pairs

Maurice Bloch

5 May 1983
The Way of the Masks 
by Claude​ Lévi-Strauss, translated by Sylvia Modelski.
Cape, 249 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 224 02081 1
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... anthropology’, from which the whole range of ‘structuralisms’ claim to derive. Structural linguistics was an amalgam of ideas sometimes seen as going back to the work of the Swiss linguist FerdinanddeSaussure, who himself was strongly influenced by the sociological theories of Durkheim. DeSaussure’s main contribution was to show that the study of language need not be a matter of building up ...
13 November 1997
Truth: A History 
by Felipe Fernández-Armesto.
Bantam, 247 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 0 593 04140 2
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... when they have no bearing on his case. Given that Paris has, apparently, been the international capital of relativism since the Sixties, it is at least mildly interesting to learn that cynical old FerdinanddeSaussure ‘began his courses of lectures on general linguistics in Paris in 1907’. And it is diverting to be told that the ferocious Friedrich Nietzsche was a ‘sexually inexperienced invalid ...

Icicles by Cynthia

Michael Wood: Ghosts

22 December 2019
Romantic Shades and Shadows 
by Susan J. Wolfson.
Johns Hopkins, 272 pp., £50, August 2018, 978 1 4214 2554 2
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... dead’ became a mantra for New Historicism as a critical method. Sometimes this meant speaking for them, or getting them to confess, and Wolfson evokes an interesting ambiguity in a remark by Paul de Man and its citation by Marjorie Garber. De Man writes of ‘making the death speak’, which in Garber’s quotation becomes ‘making the dead speak’. As Wolfson notes, the quotation has its ...

We do it all the time

Michael Wood: Empson’s Intentions

4 February 2016
... in these terms, and Barthes wrote a whole book about the linguistic structure of what he called the fashion system. In the background, along with Jakobson and other Russians, was the Swiss linguist FerdinanddeSaussure, who in the early years of the century had taught his students that etymology and structure were two different things: his favourite analogy was chess, where the story of the game so far ...

History as a Bunch of Flowers

James Davidson: Jacob Burckhardt

20 August 1998
The Greeks and Greek Civilisation 
by Jacob Burckhardt, edited by Oswyn Murray, translated by Sheila Stern.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £24.99, May 1998, 0 00 255855 6
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... ultimate foundations not in Burckhardt but in his younger, more scientific contemporaries, the arch-positivist Emile Durkheim and that other Swiss monument whose lectures were nearly lost to us, FerdinanddeSaussure, men of very different interests, much more serious and objective, and of a much more rigorous bent. Durkheim’s study of suicide, for instance, a foundation-stone of modern sociology ...

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