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Elephant Tears

James Macdonald: Goldman Sachs, 3 November 2011

Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World 
by William Cohan.
Allen Lane, 658 pp., £25, 9781846144547
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... return to creditors when they were sold. Levy died suddenly in 1976, and Sidney Weinberg’s son John took over as senior partner with John Whitehead. Both were investment bankers rather than traders, and it was Whitehead who attempted to carve in stone the firm’s code of business ...

Maughamisms

Elizabeth Mavor, 18 July 1985

A Traveller in Romance 
by W. Somerset Maugham, edited by John Whitehead.
Muller, Blond and White, 275 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 85634 184 3
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... I’, declares a mysterious character in one of the short sketches that makes up this collection of fugitive pieces, ‘am a Traveller in Romance.’ It does not seem an apt title for Somerset Maugham, for apart from a passing whim to end his days at Angkor Wat, he strikes one as very little tinged with romance. He describes himself as ‘more inclined to look forward than to look back’, as having ‘always lived so much in the future’, and there was nothing romantic in the way he went about his writing ...

Plummeting Deep into Cold Pop

Zachary Leader: Colson Whitehead, 13 December 2001

John Henry Days 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fourth Estate, 389 pp., £12, June 2001, 1 84115 569 1
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... Colson Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist (1999), won several prizes and extravagant praise from American critics. Whitehead is black and comparisons were made to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed. John Updike has called him ‘blithely gifted’, ‘the young African-American writer to watch ...

Third World

Frank Kermode, 2 March 1989

... of the Forties and Fifities, a monument to the deluded cultural presuppositions of its day. Kate Whitehead, who is now a Radio Four producer – to judge by her book, a shrewd choice of channel – hit upon the Third as a topic for research in institutional history.* Her prose, efficiently trawling the bureaucratic facts, would serve equally well for a ...

Ghost Artists

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 December 1980

The Case of the Philosophers’ Ring by Dr John H. Watson 
by Randall Collins.
Harvester, 152 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 85527 458 1
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... A good many years ago the late Sir John Masterman, when Provost of Worcester College, had the idea of creating a species of Sherlock Holmes Apocrypha. He wrote two or three short stories which appeared, I think, in an evening newspaper. I myself can recall nothing of them except a little joke. In the course of investigating a case of poisoning ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... and Westminster Hospital, where, unknown to him, his high-life associate, the film-maker Peter Whitehead, had been taken, after suffering a heart attack. It was one of those mornings of indulgent sunshine, filtered through gauze. Lilies and bell-shaped purple flowers. Twigs. A long pine table which gave Marks plenty of elbow room to roll his herbal ...

Bertie and Alys and Ottoline

Alan Ryan, 28 May 1992

The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell. Vol. I: The Private Years, 1884-1914 
edited by Nicholas Griffin.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, March 1992, 0 7139 9023 6
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... he wrote her three or more times a day: on a train journey to stay with the mathematician A. N. Whitehead in the West Country, he posted one letter at Reading and another at Marlborough, before writing another from the Whitehead’s house. Admittedly that was shortly after he had celebrated Christmas 1911 by explaining to ...

Persuasive Philosophy

Richard Rorty, 20 May 1982

Philosophical Explanations 
by Robert Nozick.
Oxford, 765 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 19 824672 2
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... and ‘Continental’ philosophers – those impressed by the examples of Hegel or Whitehead or Heidegger – take on the third. They weave webs of words which put their predecessors in their proper dialectico-historical places. The analysts despise the fuzziness of the speculators. The Continentals despise the illiteracy and gimmickry of the ...

Beasts or Brothers?

J.H. Elliott: When Columbus Met the Natives, 3 July 2008

The Discovery of Mankind: Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus 
by David Abulafia.
Yale, 379 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 300 12582 5
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Hans Staden’s True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil 
edited and translated by Neil Whitehead and Michael Harbsmeier.
Duke, 206 pp., £12.99, September 2008, 978 0 8223 4231 1
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... by Herodotus and Pliny, whose existence, apparently validated by the traveller’s tales of John Mandeville, haunted the medieval imagination, including that of Columbus? If they were in fact rational human beings, in the full sense of these words, why had they never heard of the Christian gospel, which, it was assumed, had been preached to the ends of ...

Godmother of the Salmon

John Bayley, 9 July 1992

‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ and other Laureate Poems 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 64 pp., £12.99, June 1992, 0 571 16605 9
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... received the office and ‘sleeps among the dull of ancient days’ in Pope’s Dunciad), Cibber, Whitehead, Warton, Pye, Southey, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Austin, Bridges, Masefield, Day-Lewis, Betjeman ... In 1921 E.K. Broadus wrote a book, The Laureateship. After the First War there must have been a need in the public mind for some good official stuff, like ...

Just a Way of Having Fun

Eleanor Birne: John Piper, 30 March 2017

The Art of John Piper 
by David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright.
Unicorn, 472 pp., £45, June 2016, 978 1 910787 05 2
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... At the start​ of the war, John Piper – who had made his name as an avatar of high abstraction in the mode of Braque and Mondrian, his paintings hanging among the Giacomettis and Calders in the seminal 1936 show Abstract and Concrete – was struggling to get by. His pictures weren’t really selling, and he was living on the £3 10s a week he still got from his mother ...

Where structuralism comes from

John Sturrock, 2 February 1984

Course in General Linguistics 
by Ferdinand de Saussure, translated by Roy Harris.
Duckworth, 236 pp., £24, March 1983, 0 7156 1738 9
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Semiotic Perspectives 
by Sandor Hervey.
Allen and Unwin, 273 pp., £15, September 1982, 9780044000266
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... having ‘concocted’ the chief object of his inquiry, la langue, and of being at one with A.N. Whitehead in naively falling for the ‘Method of Intensive Distraction’. Saussure’s definition of language (langue) as an abstract system of which actual languages were the living evidence was too platonic to be stomached by the behaviouristic Ogden and ...

Oh God, what have we done?

Jackson Lears: The Strange Career of Robert Oppenheimer, 20 December 2012

Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 224 06262 6
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... and then physics, and also took a seminar (only one other student enrolled) with Alfred North Whitehead on the Principia Mathematica, which Whitehead had written with Bertrand Russell twenty years earlier. However, once Oppenheimer had decided on physics he was champing at the bit to be ‘near the centre’ of the ...

His One Eye Glittering

August Kleinzahler: Creeley’s Chatter, 20 May 2021

The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley 
edited by Rod Smith, Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris.
California, 467 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 520 32483 1
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... for hours on end – on his theory of Projective Verse, proprioception, Mayan glyphs, Alfred North Whitehead, a grab bag of poetic theorising. Six foot eight and wide of girth, he commanded a room. On one occasion in Berkeley, wind in his sails, he ranted on stage for more than four hours before Duncan walked out and the staff turned off the lights. Apparently ...

Edited by Somerset Maugham

Wyatt Mason: Bedtime stories for adults, 17 March 2005

Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes 
by J. Robert Lennon.
Granta, 213 pp., £10, March 2005, 1 86207 740 1
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... learns the useful art of skipping’. Skip, then, to the moment when the American publishing house John C. Winston Company, taking Maugham at his word, hired him to demonstrate this art. Under the series title ‘Great Novelists and Their Novels’, the books Maugham had chosen were issued in new editions ‘edited by W. Somerset Maugham’ in 1948. In an ...

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