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History Man

John Robertson, 4 November 1993

G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern 
by Mark Lilla.
Harvard, 225 pp., £29.95, April 1993, 0 674 33962 2
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The Rehabilitation of Myth: Vico’s ‘New Science’ 
by Joseph Mali.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £35, September 1992, 0 521 41952 2
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... philosophers of the Counter-Enlightenment, with the Germans Hamann, Jacobi and Herder and with Joseph de Maistre. Virtually alone and entirely unrecognised, Vico had participated in the subversion of some of the most cherished convictions of the Enlightenment even before they had been fully worked out. Thirty years on, the strength of Berlin’s ...

Don’t Just Do Something, Talk

Slavoj Žižek: the financial crisis, 9 October 2008

... us to make them; or, as John Gray has put it: ‘We are forced to live as if we were free.’ Joseph Stiglitz recently wrote that, although there is a growing consensus among economists that any bailout based on Henry Paulson’s plan won’t work, ‘it is impossible for politicians to do nothing in such a crisis. So we may have to pray that an agreement ...

Report from Sirius B

Jeremy Harding: ‘Phantom Africa’, 22 March 2018

Phantom Africa 
by Michel Leiris, translated by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Seagull, 711 pp., £42, January 2017, 978 0 85742 377 1
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... would throw him off course. He fell back on the founding Dakar-Djibouti discovery: the Dogon of Mali, a relatively isolated people with dazzling origin myths and a fastidious, poetic sense of interaction with the ancestors – real and mythic – which came to a pitch of expression at funerals and mask festivals. Deaths among the Dogon, a poor, unmedicated ...

I write in Condé

Alexandra Reza, 12 May 2022

Crossing the Mangrove 
by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox.
Penguin, 170 pp., £9.99, September 2021, 978 0 241 53005 4
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Waiting for the Waters to Rise 
by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox.
World Editions, 282 pp., £12.99, August 2021, 978 1 912987 15 3
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L’Évangile du nouveau monde 
by Maryse Condé.
Buchet Chastel, 287 pp., €20, September 2021, 978 2 283 03544 3
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... story of the descendants of Dousika and Diemogo, aristocratic brothers in Ségou (in modern-day Mali), the capital of the Bambara empire, in the late 18th century. The characters move about, losing their families and friends, acquiring new ones, their affiliations constantly shifting. The epigraph – ‘do not speak of Segu in Segu’ – indicates that ...

Cocoa is blood and they are eating my flesh

Toby Green: Slavery and Cocoa, 11 April 2013

Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery and Colonial Africa 
by Catherine Higgs.
Ohio, 230 pp., £24.95, June 2012, 978 0 8214 2006 5
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... on the islands. Being, as he said, too busy to look into the matter himself, he commissioned Joseph Burtt, a middle-aged utopian who had abandoned banking to live in a commune in Gloucestershire, to go on his behalf. The commune had begun to falter, and Burtt was casting around for a purpose in life to match his idealism. The anti-slavery movement fitted ...

Seeing through Fuller

Nicholas Penny, 30 March 1989

Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... now incline to applaud in them evidence of a strenously physical relationship with paint. Thus Mali Morris, Lucy Ellmann tells us, works ‘with acrylic on unstretched canvas on the floor ... pulling gobs of paint a little way or densely caking colour on, with rough or gentle strokes. The paint sometimes seems to have flitted across, barely swooping low ...

The Suitors

Stephen W. Smith: China in Africa, 19 March 2015

China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa 
by Howard French.
Knopf, 285 pp., £22.50, June 2014, 978 0 307 95698 9
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... our Western partners to get off the ground’, as President Sassou N’Guesso still complains. In Mali, the scheme of irrigating 1.2 million hectares – a target set long ago by the French coloniser – no longer seems a mirage; in 2011, Ghana obtained $3 billion, the first tranche of a $13 billion loan package that itself surpassed the World Bank’s ...

Chop and Burn

Adam Mars-Jones: Annie Proulx, 28 July 2016

by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 717 pp., £18.99, June 2016, 978 0 00 723200 0
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... still present in the book seven hundred pages later. René Sel marries a Mi’kmaw woman called Mali (really Mari, but she can’t manage the ‘r’ sound), a happy union even if the idea was not his. René’s master, rising in the world, made an advantageous marriage and wanted to regularise his household by passing on his previous mistress to someone ...

At the Crossroads Hour

Lewis Nkosi: Chinua Achebe, 12 November 1998

Chinua Achebe: A Biography 
by Ezenwa-Ohaeto.
Curry, 326 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 253 33342 3
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... on human presence in the traditional Mbari art and contrasts this with its absence in the works of Joseph Conrad.’ Well, is there no ‘human presence’ in works like Nostromo or even Lord Jim? This is not the kind of critical biography which, by offering a certain description of a life, can transform our perception of the work. On the contrary, it asks ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed, 5 February 2015

Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... military involvement was a good idea. The secretary of defense Robert Gates, the vice president Joseph Biden and the former Nato commander Wesley Clark were all opposed, while Clinton, the UN ambassador Susan Rice and national security council aide Samantha Power urged action. Obama was typically reluctant to commit either way. There were good reasons for ...

The Uninvited

Jeremy Harding: At The Rich Man’s Gate, 3 February 2000

... while travelling through Algeria. One morning in the camp, a giant of a man from Cameroon called Joseph announced that Algeria might be a dangerous place for Algerians, but ‘not for us blacks’. He couldn’t say why – ‘perhaps it’s something in the Koran.’ Joseph was 25. He had crossed most of the Sahara on ...

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