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17 September 1987
The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation 
by Hayden White.
Johns Hopkins, 248 pp., £20.80, May 1987, 0 8018 2937 2
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Post-Structuralism and the Question of History 
edited by Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington and Robert Young.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 32759 8
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... In publishing his compendious work Metahistory in 1973, Hayden White gave currency both to a term and to a programme. His subtitle, ‘The Historical Imagination in 19th-Century Europe’, indicated the broad area of his investigations, but gave little sense of the radical originality of this programme, which was quite simply the re-examination of historiography in its written form ...
11 October 1990
An Appetite for Poetry: Essays in Literary Interpretation 
by Frank Kermode.
Collins, 242 pp., £15, November 1989, 0 00 215388 2
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... Western canon of literary classics is necessarily an instrument of the ‘cultural racism’ of ‘white males’. Nor does he have much patience with the idea that this canon is made up of ‘static monuments’ supportive of ‘political oppression’ and ‘totalising’ in their psycho-social effects. He points out that canons – even religious ones ...

Laid Down by Ranke

Peter Ghosh: Defending history

15 October 1998
In Defence of History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Granta, 320 pp., £8.99, October 1998, 1 86207 068 7
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... rage for the Annales School; and finally of US-centred literary theory. ‘Tropologists’ such as Hayden White and, latterly, Frank Ankersmit made their own attempt to fill the vacuum by suggesting that, since there was apparently no other structural principle to hand, the kernel of historical writing must be found in its exemplification of ...
23 March 1995
Telling the Truth about History 
by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob.
Norton, 322 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 0 393 03615 4
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... of literature – the demand that the canon should be expanded to include works by women and non-whites – history has recently taken centre stage. Assaults by structuralists, Post-Modernists and the like had already undermined many of the discipline’s methodological assumptions. American historians, however, like the public at large, are a resolutely ...

Walsingham’s Plumber

Patrick Collinson: John Bossy

5 July 2001
Under the Molehill: An Elizabethan Spy Story 
by John Bossy.
Yale, 189 pp., £18.95, May 2001, 0 300 08400 5
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... history as a form of philosophical discourse but from the idea (best exemplified in the work of Hayden White) that as a story, or something contrived, history is not all that different from stories which make no claim to ‘truth’. ‘Dear reader,’ he wrote in a typically self-conscious style (and here I paraphrase), the story I am about to tell ...

Genette

Stephen Bann

2 October 1980
Narrative Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Jane Lewin.
Blackwell, 285 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 631 10981 1
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... analysis but also, in a sense, its impending crisis. From 1970 onwards, the gulf between what Hayden White has called the ‘Absurdist’ and the ‘Normal’ tendencies in French criticism was to grow ever more considerable, with Barthes himself as the only token of what they had once held in common. Genette, co-editor with Todorov of the excellent ...

More than a Million Names

Mattathias Schwartz: American Intelligence

15 June 2016
Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror 
by Michael Hayden.
Penguin, 464 pp., £21.99, February 2016, 978 1 59420 656 6
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... a step that could have led to disciplinary measures. The final decision on this fell to Michael Hayden, the CIA director at the time. He chose not to. ‘It was a pretty easy call,’ he writes in Playing to the Edge, his new memoir. He doesn’t describe el-Masri as ‘innocent’, noting his ‘clouded past’, but does admit he was a ‘false ...
5 June 1980
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... all sides to be an absolutely incomprehensible book, Ecrits. To read Dan Sperber on Lévi-Strauss, Hayden White on Foucault, or Malcolm Bowie on Lacan, is to realise that the terrain, until recently so inhospitable, has been expertly mapped, the rough places made plain, and pleasant bowers and seats arranged for the ascending traveller at just the ...

In Hyperspace

Fredric Jameson

9 September 2015
Time Travel: The Popular Philosophy of Narrative 
by David Wittenberg.
Fordham, 288 pp., £18.99, March 2013, 978 0 8232 4997 8
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... reconstructed. At this point, it is appropriate to enlist History in the debate, and to introduce Hayden White, whose scandal for orthodox historians consisted in his denial of the historical fact as such and his insistence on the primacy of historical ‘emplotment’ (his term, borrowed later on by Ricoeur). History is then also a text, and we are its ...

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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... sunny clearings in the midst of impenetrable gloom. Before his humble ghost alerts the men in white coats, however, perhaps I should move on. One of Wilamowitz’s criticisms was that Burckhardt was at least fifty years out of date, and fifty years later Arnaldo Momigliano was still blaming him for breathing new life into the already elderly notion of ...

Can you close your eyes without falling over?

Hugh Pennington: Symptoms of Syphilis

11 September 2003
Pox: Genius, Madness and the Mysteries of Syphilis 
by Deborah Hayden.
Basic Books, 379 pp., £20.99, January 2003, 0 465 02881 0
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... countries like Britain which have effective health systems. In London, most syphilis sufferers are white HIV-positive males between the ages of 25 and 44 who have attended sex-on-premises bars; in the jargon of the GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic, a majority are MSM – men who have sex with men. So, although syphilis is a shadow of its former self, it ...
6 October 1983
... remarked drily that the election could have been won by a drover’s dog. Another colleague, Bill Hayden, said it could have been won by a cripple. Hayden, now Australia’s Foreign Minister, had reasons to be less than wholly delighted by Hawke’s triumph. Until the very day that the election was called, ...

To the Sunlit Uplands

Richard Rorty: A reply to Bernard Williams

31 October 2002
Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy 
by Bernard Williams.
Princeton, 328 pp., £19.95, October 2002, 0 691 10276 7
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... He strongly suggests that Foucault, too, is one of them. He hesitates about including my colleague Hayden White, who is on most lists of Postmodernist bad guys: Williams treats White’s Metahistory with respectful caution. He does not mention Derrida by name, but would probably count him as a denier, for he brackets ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Snowden Case

4 July 2013
... to turn the tables on the agency and to expose one of its larger malignant operations. Michael Hayden, who became the director of the NSA in 1999, saw the movie and told his workers they had an image problem: the agency had to change its ways and inspire the trust of citizens. But in 2001 Hayden, like many other ...

What a Woman!

J.L. Nelson: Joan of Arc

19 October 2000
Joan of Arc 
by Mary Gordon.
Weidenfeld, 168 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 297 64568 4
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Joan of Arc: A Military Leader 
by Kelly DeVries.
Sutton, 242 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7509 1805 5
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The Interrogation of Joan of Arc 
by Karen Sullivan.
Minnesota, 208 pp., £30, November 1999, 0 8166 3267 7
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... Every year on 8 May, a young woman dressed in armour and carrying a white banner rides in procession through the streets of Orléans in north-central France. Dignitaries of Church and State join in commemorating an event and a life. The event is the French relief of the city, after months of siege by the English, in 1429; the life is that of Joan of Arc, a 17-year-old girl from Lorraine told by heavenly voices to go ‘into France’ and to rescue Orléans ...

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