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Someone else’s shoes

Geoffrey​ Hawthorn

23 November 1989
A Treatise on Social Justice. Vol. I: Theories of Justice 
by Brian Barry.
Harvester, 428 pp., £30, May 1989, 0 7450 0641 8
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Innocence and Experience 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Allen Lane, 195 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 7139 9027 9
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... powers and particular interests; ‘cherished as a good’ for itself. Most of those who have more recently thought about the matter (and who do not believe, as Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor now do, that in losing an encompassing faith we have lost all capacity to talk about the public good at all) agree that our own present sense of what, exactly, these two more lively kinds of argument ...

On Trying to Be Portugal

Geoffrey​ Wheatcroft: Zionist Terrorism

6 August 2009
‘A Senseless, Squalid War’: Voices from Palestine 1945-48 
by Norman Rose.
Bodley Head, 278 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 224 07938 9
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Major Farran’s Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain’s War against Jewish Terrorism 1945-48 
by David Cesarani.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 434 01844 4
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... planned to infect the London water supply with cholera. Meanwhile the great game of international politics was played out. Reviewing Nicholas Bethell’s The Palestine Triangle 30 years ago, A.J.P. Taylor said that no Englishman could contemplate the story of the last years of Mandatory Palestine without some sense of shame. And he added, just as truly, that ‘the role of the American administration ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown

19 February 1998
Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... no change in anything. The great irresponsible monopolies derided by Brown in his youth have become the great allies of New Labour. Brown’s chief man in the Treasury is his friend and generous host Geoffrey Robinson, whose enormous wealth is stashed away in a tax haven. One millionaire in the Government is not enough. As soon as New Labour was elected, its ministers scurried into the City to seek out ...

Ailments of the Tongue

Barbara Newman: Medieval Grammar

22 March 2012
Medieval Grammar and Rhetoric: Language Arts and Literary Theory, AD 300-1475 
edited by Rita Copeland and Ineke Sluiter.
Oxford, 972 pp., £35, May 2012, 978 0 19 965378 2
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... the centrality of Latin began to fade at the same time as same-sex grammar schools. In their collection of essays on 12th-century Latin, The Tongue of the Fathers (1998), David Townsend and Andrew Taylor confirmed Ong’s insight. Latin discourse, they wrote, ‘endlessly replicates tradition. It upholds a monological and orthodox consensus … To enter into this language is, par excellence, to enter ...

Stop It and Act

Tim Parks: Pavese’s Road to Suicide

11 February 2010
This Business of Living: Diaries 1935-50 
by Cesare Pavese, translated by A.E. Murch.
Transaction, 350 pp., £24.50, March 2009, 978 1 4128 1019 7
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... it was thought to be obscene or potentially damaging to people still alive, notably Tina Pizzardo, who died in 1989. The new English edition, by contrast, has only a brief introduction by John Taylor, adapted from pages in his Into the Heart of European Poetry and largely given over to Pavese’s verse, with much praise for Geoffrey Brock’s indeed excellent translation of it. At no point does ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... capacity as master of Magdalene. Comforting presence though he is, this means I will be preaching (sic) a few feet along from the ex-archbishop of Canterbury. Still, at least he’s not the dreadful Geoffrey Fisher who when I was young was for years synonymous with the office. R. has insisted that I keep sitting down for most of the service, which I do, the proceedings quite slow and choral and ...

The Concept of ‘Cat Face’

Paul Taylor: Machine Learning

10 August 2016
... had watched without you. This became known as the ‘Brokeback Mountain problem’: in 2009 Netflix was successfully sued for breach of privacy.) About the same time Netflix launched its competition, Geoffrey Hinton, one of a dwindling number of researchers still working on neural networks, realised that if the lower levels of a neural network could be programmed using autoencoders, then the bottom of a ...
11 April 2013
... minister for health, a statement from a nursing assistant describing vulnerable patients being beaten, bullied, starved and robbed by nurses. Robinson ordered an independent inquiry, to be chaired by Geoffrey Howe, then a QC. One nurse, who carried a stick with which to threaten patients, was said to have bathed his patients by ordering them to strip in the hospital yard and turning a hose of cold water ...
30 March 1989
... no particular response from art historians and theorists. The British Academy debated Blunt’s expulsion after his exposure, but despite rancorous arguments and the dramatic resignation of A.J.P. Taylor, their proceedings did not lead to publications, conferences, lectures, or any of the other manifestations of a scholarly cause célèbre. One has only to compare the recent furore over Martin ...


John Kerrigan: Lost Shakespeare

6 February 1986
... air, it’s easy to forget that a modicum of research lies behind the Oxford claim. Having advanced our knowledge of Shakespeare’s Sonnets by elaborating new work on manuscript miscellanies, Gary Taylor had every reason to think himself on a winning streak when he opened Rawlinson Poet MS 160. The fact that the poem is bad may be an embarrassment. Robin Robbins’s attack on arguments for its ...


Jeremy Treglown

6 August 1992
Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... hour ... ’ Hers is a familiar mutation of the truism that generals are always preparing for the war they’ve just fought. It must have been a scholarly version of this syndrome that led A.J.P. Taylor to pronounce, as late as 1965, that ‘the Second World War, unlike the First, produced no distinctive literature. There were no war poets during the war, and no war novels or memoirs after it ...
23 February 1995
Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball.
Oxford, 842 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 19 820238 5
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... on the party and the media in one essay, and on his recent book on right-wing think-tanks to buttress another essay, on policy-making (this in collaboration with John Barnes). Kevin Theakston and Geoffrey Fry, in another collaborative survey, bring their expertise on the Civil Service to bear, notably on the way in which Whitehall was ‘de-privileged’ under Thatcher. Keith Middlemas, an authority ...
6 July 1989
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... from Wallace proving that he had raised the Kincora question back in 1974, Hughes avers that it might be a forgery and can thus be ignored. A file of documents on Kincora is then sent on to Teddy Taylor, the right-wing Tory MP who had shown great interest in the case. Taylor places this file in a locked cupboard in a locked office under a 24-hour-a-day police guard. It is nonetheless stolen ...

Elegant Extracts

Leah Price: Anthologies

3 February 2000
The Oxford Book of English Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 690 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 214182 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume One 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2974 pp., £22.50, December 1999, 0 393 97487 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2963 pp., £22.50, February 2000, 9780393974911
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume One 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2963 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01173 2
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume Two 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2982 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01174 0
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Night & Horses & The Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature 
edited by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 7139 9153 4
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News that Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 189 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 0 571 20060 5
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Time’s Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Anvil, 157 pp., £7.95, November 1999, 0 85646 313 2
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Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Penguin, 640 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780140588996
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... translating ‘rounders’ as ‘baseball’ might once have limited the anthology’s sphere of influence, but baseball, too, has spread around the globe. In an essay in the latest edition, Geoffrey Nunberg notes that ‘it is rare to find a single page of an English-language novel or newspaper that does not reveal what nation it was written in,’ and although the Norton does not include a ...

Poor Darling

Jean McNicol

21 March 1996
Vera Brittain: A Life 
by Paul Berry and Mark Bostridge.
Chatto, 581 pp., £25, October 1995, 0 7011 2679 5
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Vera Brittain: A Feminist Life 
by Deborah Gorham.
Blackwell, 330 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 631 14715 2
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... as Victor Richardson wrote to her, ‘very few men are suitable ... One has therefore to convince oneself ... that one is at any rate a decent imitation of a soldier.’ Edward Brittain’s friend Geoffrey Thurlow, who described himself as ‘disgustingly windy’ and ‘no earthly use as an officer’, continued to rely on Rupert Brooke and ended his last letter to Vera in April 1917 by quoting him ...

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