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Where structuralism comes from

John Sturrock, 2 February 1984

Course in General Linguistics 
by Ferdinand deSaussure, 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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... left, the script reads, brooding on the sins of American foreign policy – it is now or never for Ferdinand deSaussure 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, ...

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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... Ferdinand deSaussure, 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 literary criticism, architecture, social anthropology and psychoanalysis ...

Lacan’s Mirrors

Edmund Leach, 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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... Dr MacCabe should, in the outcome, have become a full professor (at the University of Strathclyde). But all that has nothing whatever to do with this book.Although it appears in a series (edited by Stephen Heath and Colin MacCabe himself) in which the titles suggest all the latest Marxist, Feminist and Structuralist Paris fashions, the actual contents of ...

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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... One of the most disconcerting aspects of introducing the work of Lévi-Strauss to students is that those who are just beginning an anthropology course often seem able to grasp quickly and easily the main points of his work, while those who have a good anthropological training seem almost invariably incapable of understanding what he is saying ...

This jellyfish can sting

Jonathan Rée, 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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... Despite his exotic name, Felipe Fernández-Armesto is an upper-class Englishman of the kind who seem to float on a cloud of contentment, perpetually entertained by the oafish antics of the rest of us down below. His press release describes him as ‘a member of the Modern History Faculty of Oxford University’ and Millennium, his blockbuster on the history of the world, as a ‘highly acclaimed’ bestseller, while translations of his monographs and reference books are ‘pending in twenty languages ...

Icicles by Cynthia

Michael Wood: Ghosts, 2 January 2020

Romantic Shades and Shadows 
by Susan J. Wolfson.
Johns Hopkins, 272 pp., £50, August 2018, 978 1 4214 2554 2
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... What is​ a ghost?’ Stephen Dedalus asks in Ulysses, and promptly answers his own question. ‘One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners.’ Not a figure who is entirely unreal, just one who has become a little faint, lacking in physical immediacy ...

We do it all the time

Michael Wood: Empson’s Intentions, 4 February 2016

... The End of the PoemThere is a moment​ in William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity when he decides to linger in Macbeth’s mind. The future killer is trying to convince himself that murder might be not so bad a crime (for the criminal) if he could just get it over with. This is ...

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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... of the Renaissance in Italy had written anything at all on the Greeks, and many (myself included) knew not much more than that. In the unlikely event that an allusion to his work is used to ambush you at a conference or a seminar, look nonplussed, mutter a sentence or two from which only the words ‘bourgeois individualism’, ‘Curiosity Shop’ and ...

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