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The Big Show

David Blackbourn, 3 March 1983

‘Hitler’: A Film from Germany 
by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, translated by Joachim Neugroschel, introduced by Susan Sontag.
Carcanet, 268 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 85635 405 8
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... Ellerkamp’) and the Cosmologist (a Strangelove figure set in a Caspar David Friedrich icescape) add to the richness of the texture while reinforcing the central ideal that what we are seeing is no more than a film about a film. Hitler, muses Ellerkamp, was ‘the greatest film-maker of all time’. Two principal narrators, Harry Baer and ...

At the Met

Michael Hofmann: Beckmann in New York, 16 February 2017

... individual. (In this he resembles Otto Dix – maybe it’s all German solitudinarianism, out of Nietzsche or Caspar David Friedrich.) His boldly outlined conical or tubular forms, unconventional colour balances and bright, acidic palettes stand out anywhere. He painted social milieus of pleasure, soirées and ...

Slow Deconstruction

David Bromwich, 7 October 1993

Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism: The Gauss Seminars and Other Papers 
by Paul de Man, edited by E.S. Burt, Kevin Newmark and Andrzej Warminski.
Johns Hopkins, 212 pp., £21.50, March 1993, 0 8018 4461 4
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Serenity in Crisis: A Preface to Paul de Man 1939-1960 
by Ortwin de Graef.
Nebraska, 240 pp., £29.95, January 1993, 0 8032 1694 7
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... effect, in controversies over his interpretations of philosophers – with Stanley Corngold on Nietzsche’s conception of error, and with Raymond Geuss on Hegel’s understanding of art. De Man had translated Nietzsche’s remark that the world is a place where a mistake can happen and made it say instead that the world ...

Determinacy Kills

Terry Eagleton: Theodor Adorno, 19 June 2008

Theodor Adorno: One Last Genius 
by Detlev Claussen.
Harvard, 440 pp., £22.95, May 2008, 978 0 674 02618 6
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... a kind of anti-philosopher, forging a whole new style of philosophical writing as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche had done before them. The only valid form of reasoning seems to be one which tries to reckon into itself the limits and contradictions against which it is bound to run up, and without which it is perhaps doomed to silence. One must speak while ...

Long Live Aporia!

Hal Foster: William Gaddis, 24 July 2003

Agapē Agape 
by William Gaddis.
Atlantic, 113 pp., £9.99, January 2003, 1 903809 83 5
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The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings 
by William Gaddis, edited by Joseph Tabbi.
Penguin, 182 pp., $14, October 2002, 0 14 200238 0
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... its pieces in partial and passionate fashion. Gaddis derives some of his own pieces from Plato, Nietzsche, Freud, Norbert Weiner, Benjamin and Huizinga (the last two take part in a hilarious dialogue in Agapē Agape), but others not cited also come to mind: Sigfried Giedion in Mechanisation Takes Command, Lewis Mumford in Technics and ...
Rationalism in Politics, and Other Essays 
by Michael Oakeshott, edited by Timothy Fuller.
Liberty, 556 pp., $24, October 1991, 0 86597 094 7
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... mental world of end-of-the-century Western politics. It is alongside Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss and Friedrich von Hayek that Michael Oakeshott is most appropriately seen. The relations between these four figures await documentation from future biographers. But whatever the circumstantial contacts or conflicts – some more visible than others – the lattice of ...

Il n’y a pas de Beckett

Christopher Prendergast, 14 November 1996

Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett 
by James Knowlson.
Bloomsbury, 872 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 7475 2719 9
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Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist 
by Anthony Cronin.
HarperCollins, 645 pp., £25, October 1996, 9780246137692
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol I: Waiting for Godot 
edited by Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson.
Faber, 472 pp., £75, March 1994, 0 571 14543 4
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol II: Endgame 
edited by S.E. Gontarski.
Faber, 276 pp., £50, November 1992, 0 571 14544 2
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol III: Krapp’s Last Tape 
edited by James Knowlson.
Faber, 286 pp., £50, May 1992, 0 571 14563 9
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Eleutheria 
by Samuel Beckett, translated by Barbara Wright.
Faber, 170 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571178261
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... of having been born’ are reproduced almost verbatim in Beckett’s early essay on Proust) and Nietzsche (in the fable at the beginning of the Birth of Tragedy, according to which the ‘best’ is ‘never to have been born’; the second best to die quickly). Beckett gives a novel twist to this venerable tradition by extending the curse from birth to ...

At the Fairground

Tom Nairn, 20 March 1997

Republics, Nations and Tribes 
by Martin Thom.
Verso, 359 pp., £45, July 1995, 1 85984 020 5
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... to turn one’s back on the fairground. Early in the 20th century it really mattered to oppose Nietzsche and Lenin, and to do so in terms other than those of diehard conservatism or philistinism. Presumably it will go on mattering as we move into the 21st century, accompanied by another bunch of mournful palm-readers and sermonising snake-oil reps. What ...

Bland Fanatics

Pankaj Mishra: Liberalism and Colonialism, 3 December 2015

On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present 
by Alan Ryan.
Penguin, 1152 pp., £14.99, September 2013, 978 0 14 028518 5
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Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism 
by Larry Siedentop.
Penguin, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 0 14 100954 4
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Liberalism: The Life of an Idea 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 496 pp., £16.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 16839 5
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An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzō and a New Liberal Order in East Asia 1905-37 
by Jung-Sun Ni Han.
Harvard, 244 pp., £29.95, March 2013, 978 0 674 06571 0
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... Individual, while critics of the liberal tradition in the West – including Marx, Burckhardt, Nietzsche and Carl Schmitt – are almost completely ignored. Ryan and Fawcett offer a more capacious account of liberalism, but are just as indifferent to mankind’s many other conversations with itself, especially those held outside the West. ‘Political ...

Adulation or Eggs

Susan Eilenberg: At home with the Carlyles, 7 October 2004

Thomas and Jane Carlyle: Portrait of a Marriage 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Pimlico, 560 pp., £15, February 2003, 0 7126 6634 6
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... troublesome) the irrationality of devotion. The object itself is almost irrelevant. As Nietzsche observes, such an attitude necessitates for this ‘atheist who makes it a point of honour not to be one’ a ‘constant and passionate dishonesty towards himself’. Though vividly and surgically detailed, perfect in the tones of prophecy, and stiff ...

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