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Facts of Life

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 July 1982

Ethology 
by Robert Hinde.
Oxford/Fontana, 320 pp., £9.50, February 1982, 0 19 520370 4
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Social Anthropology 
by Edmund Leach.
Oxford/Fontana, 254 pp., £9.50, February 1982, 0 19 520371 2
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Religion 
by Leszek Kolakowski.
Oxford/Fontana, 235 pp., £9.50, February 1982, 0 19 520372 0
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Historical Sociology 
by Philip Abrams.
Open Books, 353 pp., £12, April 1982, 0 7291 0111 8
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... and altogether incoherent. (Reviewing himself, he adds, he might say the same.) Leach, Hinde and Kolakowski, and Abrams, too, in a sane and often elegant account of how history and sociology connect (divided, Abrams insists, not by logic, only by rhetoric), are all concerned not simply to survey but also to argue. Each, in doing so, provides a splendid ...

Grassi gets a fright

Peter Burke, 7 July 1988

Galileo: Heretic 
by Pietro Redondi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £17.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9007 4
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... of progressives and reactionaries. In a sense, Redondi is being deliberately anachronistic. Since Leszek Kolakowski published his book on Christians without a Church in Warsaw in 1965, I have not seen a study of Early Modern Europe which so insistently demands an allegorical reading (though the translator offers no assistance to readers unfamiliar with ...

Whatever Made Him

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Bauman Dichotomy, 10 September 2020

Bauman: A Biography 
by Izabela Wagner.
Polity, 510 pp., £25, June, 978 1 5095 2686 4
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... in building a murderous system’. But the Polish sociological environment – which included Leszek Kołakowski and Bronisław Baczko – was greatly enlivened by the subsequent thaw. Stanisław Ossowski, a well-known sociologist from the prewar period who had been banned from teaching in 1951, was able to recover his chair, and Bauman’s mentor, Julian ...

From the Other Side

David Drew, 18 July 1985

... observation was demonstrated from an unexpected and influential quarter. The Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski had made his name as one of the young Warsaw revisionists in the early 1960s, and as such had been commended and approvingly quoted by Bloch. But the three-volume study of Marxism which ...

Imperfect Knight

Gabriel Josipovici, 17 April 1980

Chaucer’s Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary 
by Terry Jones.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 297 77566 9
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Chaucer, Langland and the Creative Imagination 
by David Aers.
Routledge, 236 pp., £9.75, January 1980, 9780710003515
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The Golden Age: Manuscript Painting at the Time of Jean, Duc de Berry 
by Marcel Thomas.
Chatto, 120 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7011 2471 7
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... anxious to preserve their privileges as they note the rumblings from below. At one point he quotes Leszek Kolakowski on the difference between the priest and the jester: ‘The priest is the guardian of the absolute; he sustains the cult of the final and the obvious as acknowledged by and contained in tradition. The jester is he who moves in good society ...

The Quest for Solidarity

John Dunn, 24 January 1980

Politics and Letters: Interviews with ‘New Left Review’ 
by Raymond Williams.
New Left Books, 446 pp., £12.75, September 1980, 0 86091 000 8
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... of Williams’s pronouncements on these topics in recent years (for example, on the arguments of Leszek Kolakowski) have been inexcusably haughty and intellectually disingenuous. The judgments themselves are unconvincing and the reasons which he has given for believing them sound are even less convincing. The quest for solidarity, insufficiently ...

Barbarians

Stuart Airlie, 17 November 1983

Medieval Germany and its Neighbours 900-1250 
by K.J. Leyser.
Hambledon, 302 pp., £18, February 1983, 0 907628 08 7
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The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987 
by Rosamond McKitterick.
Longman, 414 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 582 49005 7
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Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill 
edited by Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough and Roger Collins.
Blackwell, 345 pp., £27.50, September 1983, 0 631 12661 9
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... had one thinker, John Scottus Eriugena, who has attracted the attention of both Helen Waddell and Leszek Kolakowski. The book fails to convey a sense of change in this period, a period that Marc Bloch took as the starting point for his great analysis of Medieval society. With Mr Leyser’s book we enter the authentic world of the early Middle Ages. We ...

In Love

Michael Wood, 25 January 1996

Essays in Dissent: Church, Chapel and the Unitarian Conspiracy 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 264 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85754 123 5
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... says it is. What has sparked Davie’s resistance here is Thompson’s equation, in a letter to Leszek Kolakowski, of Protestantism and scepticism, and of both with Englishness, the habits of the people of ‘an ancient Protestant island, doggedly resistant to the magics of religious symbolism even when they remained believers’. Davie must be right ...

Terrorism

Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... John O’Sullivan emphasises the need to deny them publicity. In the best piece in the book Leszek Kolakowski discusses legitimacy and terrorism, pointing out that the armed struggle of the underground partisans against the Nazi occupation was perfectly legitimate because the rule of the invader had no legitimacy – he refrains from drawing the ...

Watering the Dust

James Wood: Saint Augustine, 30 September 1999

Saint Augustine 
by Garry Wills.
Weidenfeld, 153 pp., £12.99, August 1999, 0 297 84281 1
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... condemned by the Pope. Its vision of our relationship with God is aptly caught by the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, in the title of his book about Jansenism: God Owes Us Nothing. During his lifetime the implications of such thinking troubled some of Augustine’s followers. Even if we were able to ignore the pious cruelty, an illogicality stands out: we ...

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