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6 February 1986
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci 
by Jonathan Spence.
Faber, 350 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 571 13239 1
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Chine et Christianisme: Action et Réaction 
by Jacques Gernet.
Gallimard, 342 pp., frs 154, May 1982, 2 07 026366 5
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... on a scholar’s robes instead. He learned Chinese well enough to write books in it, studied the classics and presented Christianity as complementary to the message of Confucius. Matteo Ricci became Li Ma-Tou. Earlier missionaries had referred to God as Deus, a word which sounded barbarous to Chinese ears and discouraged potential converts. Ricci, on the other hand, preferred to use traditional  ...

Bridges

Edmund Leach

15 July 1982
Myth, Religion and Society: Structuralist Essays 
by M. Detienne, L. Gernet, J-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, edited by R.L.​ Gordon.
Cambridge/Editions de la​ Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 306 pp., £20, January 1982, 0 521 22780 1
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The Anthropological CircleSymbol,​ Function, History 
by Marc Augé.
Cambridge/Editions de la​ Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 131 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 521 23236 8
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... they are both translations from the French, there is not much that these two books have in common, so my comments will be seriatim. The earliest of the essays in the Gordon collection, which is by Gernet, who died in 1962 at the age of 80, first appeared as long ago as 1948; the remainder at various dates since 1968. Of the latter, three are by Vernant, five by Vidal-Naquet, three by Detienne. The ...

Deaths at Two O’Clock

Sheila​ Fitzpatrick: Suicide in the USSR

17 February 2011
Lost to the Collective: Suicide and the Promise of Soviet Socialism, 1921-29 
by Kenneth Pinnow.
Cornell,​ 276 pp., £32.95, March 2011, 978 0 8014 4766 2
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... to their own profession-building efforts. It was modern for a country to have rising suicide rates, and even more modern to make them the subject of systematic scientific investigation à la Durkheim, whose pioneering study of suicide had been published in 1897 and was soon translated into Russian. The experts’ assumption – that Russia was uniquely predisposed to suicide because of ...

Theories of Myth

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

19 March 1981
Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual 
by Walter Burkert.
California, 226 pp., £9, April 1980, 0 520 03771 5
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Myth and Society in Ancient Greece 
by Jean-Pierre Vernant, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Harvester, 242 pp., £24, February 1980, 9780391009158
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... which classifies the facts relevant to the structure of archaic societies and helps to determine not only their religion but their ethnical and social attitudes. Vernant’s own teacher, Louis Gernet, studied the influence of religion and the myths connected with it on the earliest legal systems. Vernant regards this work as the very first attempt to produce a structural semantic analysis. He ...

Defence of poetry

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

3 July 1980
Enemies of Poetry 
by W.B. Stanford.
Routledge, 181 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0460 5
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The Idea of a Theatre: the Greek Experience 
by M.I. Finley.
British Museum, 16 pp., £95, February 1980, 0 7141 1267 4
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... are now easy to observe, but the path they chose was the right one, and has led to the important work of E.R. Dodds in this country, Karl Meuli and his followers in Germany and Switzerland, and Louis Gernet and his school in France. These scholars have made a careful study of the new disciplines whose methods they have used, and have done so with all proper caution. That cannot be said of a large number ...
6 March 1986
Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... a manner normally reserved for politicians or pop stars. This brings the number of translations of Politics in the Ancient World to about ten, including one in Catalan. Full-page, sober interviews in Le Monde and La Repubblica might have been expected; the interest shown by Rinascita and La Révolution, given Finley’s radical credentials, is not so surprising; but there aren’t many scholars who ...

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