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The Capitalocene

Benjamin Kunkel: The Anthropocene

2 March 2017
The Birth of the Anthropocene 
by Jeremy Davies.
California, 240 pp., £24.95, June 2016, 978 0 520 28997 0
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Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital 
by Jason Moore.
Verso, 336 pp., £19.99, August 2015, 978 1 78168 902 8
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Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming 
by Andreas Malm.
Verso, 496 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78478 129 3
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... exhibits, heavy metal albums (The Anthropocene Extinction by Cattle Decapitation) and volumes of poetry (The Misanthropocene). It has already ‘picked up a variety of incompatible meanings’, as JeremyDavies, a professor of English at Leeds, observes in The Birth of the Anthropocene, perhaps the best guide so far to the different senses and timeframes attached to the term. Even so, a common ...

Don’t join a union, pop a pill

Katrina Forrester: ‘The Happiness Industry’

21 October 2015
The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing 
by William Davies.
Verso, 314 pp., £16.99, May 2015, 978 1 78168 845 8
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... in monitoring levels of ‘happiness’. The view that happiness can’t be quantified – that emotional life is not the stuff of politics, economics or science – is not shared by what William Davies calls the ‘happiness industry’, that constellation of psychologists and economists seeking to maximise happiness; neuroscientists developing increasingly sophisticated tools for measuring it ...

They don’t even need ideas

William Davies: Take Nigel Farage ...

20 June 2019
... on 26 per cent. Farage’s outfit has adopted the model of a platform startup, as pioneered by the Italian Five Star Movement, to disrupt electoral politics at unprecedented speed. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn now hold the record for the most unpopular leadership duo ever, breaking the record set by Thatcher and Michael Foot in December 1981. The roots of this disillusionment extend back many years ...

Short Cuts

William Davies: Reasons to be Cheerful

18 July 2019
... 160,000 electors with Conservative Party membership cards) in which the first contestant to accept reality is the loser. Words have now broken completely free of their factual moorings; Johnson and Jeremy Hunt seem committed to touring the nation and its television studios misreporting and misdescribing the economic, legal and political realities that will confront the next prime minister. To do ...
8 November 1979
Jeremy​ Thorpe: A Secret Life 
by Lewis Chester, Magnus Linklater and David May.
Fontana, 371 pp., £1.50
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... In one sense, as the advertising claims, this is ‘the only book to tell the full story of the Jeremy Thorpe affair’, for there is no other book that tells that story. Written by three journalists from the Sunday Times, it presents the existing state of knowledge, but tidied up and reduced to order ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality

7 February 2019
... no’. The 432 MPs who voted against her did so for a variety of reasons, underpinned by incompatible visions of what should happen next. There are few things that could produce consensus between Jeremy Corbyn, Arlene Foster, Vince Cable and Jacob Rees-Mogg, but opposition to May’s deal was one. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, responded to the result with a tweet ...

How bad can it get?

LRB Contributors

15 August 2019
... Neal Ascherson, Mary Beard, Jonathan Coe, Tom Crewe, William Davies, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Lorna Finlayson, Daniel Finn, Katrina Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Daisy Hildyard, Colin Kidd, James Meek, Ferdinand Mount, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Parry, David RuncimanNeal Ascherson‘On​ 17 June poor France fell. That day, as we trudged past ...

He’s Bad, She’s Mad

Mary Hannity: HMP Holloway

9 May 2019
Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison 
by Caitlin Davies.
John Murray, 373 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 4736 4776 3
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... argument for reform, however, conflicted with ideas of female depravity. Were women truly accountable for their actions? Were they redeemable? Did they have ‘higher susceptibilities’? As Caitlin Davies notes in Bad Girls, her history of Holloway and its inmates, incarcerated women were considered far more difficult to manage than men. Misconduct in Holloway, the prison inspector Arthur Griffiths ...
26 September 2019
... of events. As the tectonic plates of the British state rumble ominously, take a moment to register quite how strange it is that the headlines should be dominated by the figures of Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Dominic Cummings. Absent the idiosyncrasies of these men, and the way they determine their interactions, the present crisis would be playing out in a different way entirely. The central ...


Peter Campbell: At the new British Library

27 November 1997
... to drink tea with. What is very different is the lavishness, the pomp almost, of the ambience. Are we really up to it? It is all very well for Bernard Shaw and Karl Marx (even for Mandy Rice-Davies and Jeremy Paxman, who the Library, a little coyly, include in the list of celebrated readers they hand out to the press), but most readers are not famous or notorious; some of us are vague and ...
7 November 2019
... President Nixon’s adviser John Ehrlichman explained to his boss the basic concept before the passage of the 1973 HMO Act: ‘The less care they give them the more money they make.’ In May 2016 Jeremy Hunt, then health minister, admitted at a Commons Health Committee hearing that Kaiser was a model for his planned NHS reforms. When a trial of ACOs was announced in the UK in 2017, it caused an ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies

12 July 2017
... politician. Where the latter was a man in his early forties (now re-enacted by the even younger Emmanuel Macron), in the last two years we have witnessed the unforeseen rise of Bernie Sanders (75), Jeremy Corbyn (68) and Donald Trump (71), the oldest man ever to become president. These men have lurked on the margins of public life for decades, and a stockpile of images and stories has accumulated ...

Let’s eat badly

William Davies: Irrationality and its Other

25 November 2019
Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason 
by Justin E.H. Smith.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, April, 978 0 691 17867 7
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... interests are concerned, it doesn’t matter how absurd, stupid, dangerous or mendacious a post is, just so long as it takes place on Facebook. The iconic model of a surveillance technology is Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon design for a prison, in which prisoners would feel visible to the prison guards at all times whether or not they were actually being watched. As Michel Foucault noted, the ...
2 February 1984
Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... and that style should slip the content straight down the reader’s throat, for content is what matters most. This may beg a lot more questions, but except to critics it is clear enough. When W.H. Davies says he saw the wind dragging the corn by her golden hair into a dark wood, the startling and exciting information goes straight inside us. Complex reactions then occur; theorists of rhetoric can ...

You Dying Nations

Jeremy​ Adler: Georg Trakl

17 April 2003
Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... Sylvia Plath’s intensities never quite managed to rise to Trakl; the composer Oliver Knussen recognised the affinity, and coupled poems by Trakl and Plath in his Second Symphony, and Peter Maxwell Davies has also set Trakl to music. This new collection is the most substantial so far published in England, and should finally win Trakl wider recognition. Alexander Stillmark’s selection of around 125 ...

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