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The Meaning of Silence

Peter Medawar, 2 February 1984

Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony 
by Lewis Thomas.
Viking, 168 pp., $12.95, November 1983, 0 670 70390 7
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... Lewis Thomas’s latest book is a collection of 24 short essays of which the first has to do with the gravest problem confronting mankind – the Bomb. In this essay his fans see a different Lewis Thomas – angry where he was once urbane, grim rather than gay, for no aspect of the bomb is at all funny and upon this subject Thomas is unrelievedly grave ...

Osler’s Razor

Peter Medawar, 17 February 1983

The Youngest Science 
by Lewis Thomas.
Viking, 256 pp., $14.75, February 1983, 9780670795338
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... Lewis Thomas is a physician, a scientist, a medical administrator, and a man of letters whose previous books, The Lives of a Cell (1974) and The Medusa and the Snail (1979), and occasional writing for the New England Journal of Medicine have brought him a large following. The Youngest Science will meet his fans’ highest expectations ...

Chemical Common Sense

Miroslav Holub, 4 July 1996

The Same and Not the Same 
by Roald Hoffmann.
Columbia, 294 pp., $34.95, September 1995, 0 231 10138 4
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... writing by active scientists – have crystallised: the belletristic essay, such as the work of Lewis Thomas, Carl Sagan, Alan Lightman or Harold Morowitz, which reveals the elegance and spirit of science; the scientific discourse that is interesting to the broad public because of its ‘human’ dimension, as in the immense, neo-Darwinian undertaking ...

In the Hands of Any Fool

Walter Gratzer, 3 July 1997

A Short History of Cardiology 
by Peter Fleming.
Rodopi, 234 pp., £53.50, April 1997, 90 420 0048 1
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... of the celestial clockwork. That was in the 17th century. Now medicine has become, in the words of Lewis Thomas, the youngest science; and the kind of wanton incompetence that did for Josef Shklovsky has passed into history, at least in the West. Or has it? In 1983, the Journal of the American Medical Society published the results of a study on 100 ...

Medawar’s Knack

N.W. Pirie, 27 September 1990

A Very Decided Preference: Life with Peter Medawar 
by Jean Medawar.
Oxford, 256 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 217779 6
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The Threat and the Glory: Reflections on Science and Scientists 
by Peter Medawar, edited by David Pyke.
Oxford, 291 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 217778 8
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... During this century medicine changed from being an art to being a science. An account of a book by Lewis Thomas, written, like the two previous reviews, for the LRB (Vol. 5 No 3, Vol. 6 No 2), includes much biographical information about the manner of life of Thomas and his father as medical students and practitioners ...

Scientific Fraud

Peter Medawar, 17 November 1983

Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science 
by William Broad and Nicholas Wade.
Century, 256 pp., £8.95, July 1983, 0 7126 0243 7
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... authorities. We found no reason whatsoever to believe Summerlin’s results to be valid. When Dr Lewis Thomas, at that time President of the entire Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, passed through one day, we told him of our findings, upon learning which he looked very grave and clearly resolved in his mind to take some action. At the next meeting ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... or just after the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned ...

The Pissing Evile

Peter Medawar, 1 December 1983

The Discovery of Insulin 
by Michael Bliss.
Paul Harris, 304 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 86228 056 7
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... with an appropriately reverberant thunderclap, the long epoch of therapeutic nihilism described by Lewis Thomas in his most recent book.* The insulin story begins, of course, as other medical stories begin, at the bedside – with the taking of a history and an appraisal of the patient’s general health. The history would be loss of weight, debility and ...

Back to the futuh

Robert Irwin, 1 August 1996

The Middle East: 2000 Years of History from the Birth of Christianity to the Present Day 
by Bernard Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 433 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 297 81345 5
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... the text of The Middle East has not been written by the author of the captions. Bernard Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, is a fluent, lively, erudite and lucid writer. He also has an eye for the pointillist anecdote and pithy maxim culled from the primary sources. His book appears in a ‘History of ...

Dark Knight

Tom Shippey, 24 February 1994

The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory 
by P.J.C. Field.
Boydell and Brewer, 218 pp., £29.50, September 1993, 0 85991 385 6
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... unto his oth. Hit is pyté that he lyvyth!’ This indignant outburst by Sir Lancelot in Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur has long been an embarrassment to admirers of the work and of its author. Ever since G.L. Kittredge, a hundred years ago, identified the author of Morte Darthur with Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold ...

Closing Time

Thomas Laqueur, 18 August 1994

How We Die 
by Sherwin Nuland.
Chatto, 278 pp., £15.99, May 1994, 0 7011 6169 8
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... majority of us, he insists, is a ‘messy business’. Contrary to what Sir William Osler or Dr Lewis Thomas might lead us to believe, death is ‘glutted with mental suffering and physical distress’. There was, he claims, ‘a nice Victorian reticence in denying the probability of a miserable prelude to mortality’ and he will disabuse us of our ...

Scalpers Inc.

John Lanchester: ‘Flash Boys’, 5 June 2014

Flash Boys: Cracking the Money Code 
by Michael Lewis.
Allen Lane, 274 pp., £20, March 2014, 978 0 241 00363 3
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... had arrived at a point where most of their activity was secret and mysterious. Enter Michael Lewis. Flash Boys is a number of things, one of the most important being an exposition of exactly what is going on in the stock market; it’s a one-stop shop for an explanation of high-frequency trading (hereafter, HFT). The book reads like a ...

Alonenesses

William Wootten: Alun Lewis and ‘Frieda’, 5 July 2007

A Cypress Walk: Letters to ‘Frieda’ 
by Alun Lewis.
Enitharmon, 224 pp., £20, October 2006, 1 904634 30 3
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... Alun Lewis is usually remembered as a war poet or, more precisely, as a soldier poet. ‘All Day It Has Rained’ is familiar to those who know nothing else about its author and to some who don’t usually read poetry. Ian Hamilton edited a selection of Lewis’s work, and there is a good biography by John Pikoulis ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... the neglected men I have found Robert Bage, Henry Brooke, John Bunyan, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Delaney [sic], Emanuel Ford, William Godwin, Richard Graves, Robert Greene, Robert Henryson, Charles Johnstone, Charles Lever, M.G. Lewis, Thomas Lodge, Henry MacKenzie [sic], ...

Hierophants

Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis, 6 September 2007

C. Day-LewisA Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... in Roy Campbell’s spiteful caricature ‘MacSpaunday’ (MacNeice, Spender, Auden and Day-Lewis), a composite creature marked by its blend of glib Marxism, shameless self-advertising and large quantities of indifferent verse. As the popular label for the period suggests, Auden was from the start the dominating presence, and poetically he increasingly ...

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