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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, HaydenWhite 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 ...

Kermode and Theory

Hayden White

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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... that the notion of a canon presumes some system of inclusions and exclusions, he denies that the 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 ...

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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... Hence the emergence, however surprising, of an English Marxist history; of the Anglo-American rage for the Annales School; and finally of US-centred literary theory. ‘Tropologists’ such as HaydenWhite 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 ...
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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... historians, however, like the public at large, are a resolutely non-theoretical lot. No one much cared when Jacques Derrida questioned the epistemological foundations of historical knowledge, or HaydenWhite insisted that historical narratives are, in large measure, carefully contrived myths. But when Indians spoiled the quincentenary of 1492 by condemning Christopher Columbus as a mass murderer ...

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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... individuals, facts do matter. When he wrote Bruno, Bossy was in full, reactionary retreat not only from history as a form of philosophical discourse but from the idea (best exemplified in the work of HaydenWhite) 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 ...


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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... Roland Barthes had published S/Z in 1970, thus announcing both the culmination of the logic of structural analysis but also, in a sense, its impending crisis. From 1970 onwards, the gulf between what HaydenWhite 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 ...

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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... up an ‘accountability board’, an internal tribunal, to investigate the handling of the case, 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 ...
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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... book, Les Mots et les Choses, and since Lacan published, in the same year, what was agreed on all sides to be an absolutely incomprehensible book, Ecrits. To read Dan Sperber on Lévi-Strauss, HaydenWhite 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 ...

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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... or making, the telling of a tale whose original existed nowhere, but which could always somehow be reconstructed. At this point, it is appropriate to enlist History in the debate, and to introduce HaydenWhite, 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 ...

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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... or Beethoven. He creates vast spaces in history, heights and depths, enormous ranges of pitch and timbre, 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 ...

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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... to the drug – more so than any other organism. The disease itself survives, however, even in 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 ...
6 October 1983
... federal election last March, becoming the first Labor Prime Minister since 1975, a colleague 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 ...

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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... however, specify that the deniers include Bruno Latour, Sandra Harding and the present reviewer. He strongly suggests that Foucault, too, is one of them. He hesitates about including my colleague HaydenWhite, 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 ...


David Bromwich: The Snowden Case

4 July 2013
... armour, decoy-signal devices and advanced encryption-ware. From his one-man fortress, he leads the hero 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 ...

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 ...

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