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How did the slime mould cross the maze?

Adrian Woolfson: The Future of Emergence

21 March 2002
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software 
by Steven Johnson.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 7139 9400 2
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The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture 
by Mark Taylor.
Chicago, 340 pp., £20.50, January 2002, 0 226 79117 3
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... in the idea that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ These books are important, in that they apply the mathematical logic of complex systems to cultural – and, in the case of Taylor, cognitive – phenomena. They do so in a metaphorical rather than explicitly mathematical manner, and focus on the transformative and generative power of self-organising principles in contexts as ...

Wizard of Ox

Paul Addison

8 November 1990
... Many tributes have been paid to Alan Taylor, including some by old and close friends who knew him very much better than I did. My excuse for adding one more piece is that I would like to explain something of what he meant to younger historians ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Shakespeare’s Faces

7 January 2016
... in private hands since the 17th century, it came with a continuous provenance which further investigation has supported. Only the question of its authorship was troublesome. The identity of ‘Jo: Taylor’ has been subjected to a needle-in-haystack search for a painter called John Taylor. Duncan-Jones, threading her way carefully back through the marginalia of the historian George Vertue into the ...
18 July 1985
The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement ...

Up to Islip

Rosalind Mitchison

2 August 1984
An Old Man’s Diary 
by A.J.P. Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 155 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11247 8
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... hillside watching the blue shadows of the clouds on the mountains. Later in luxury in an Appin hotel I can settle to a collection of diary pieces from our most distinguished modern historian, A.J.P. Taylor. Of course these are not real diary entries. A real diary entry is full of personal items which the law of libel or the proscription of the totally trivial contrive to rule out. Journalism diaries ...

Old Dad dead?

Michael Neill: Thomas Middleton

4 December 2008
Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 2016 pp., £85, November 2007, 978 0 19 818569 7
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Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 1183 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 818570 3
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... an excellent principle, in literature as in life, to judge a book by its cover; and there is much to be learned from the appearance of the new Oxford Middleton. Even as the blurb declares that Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino’s monumental collection is ‘based on the award-winning design of the Oxford Shakespeare’, the binding and dust jacket defiantly proclaim its difference from that ...

My Shirt-Front Starched

Adam Phillips: Proust’s Megalomania

27 July 2016
Proust: The Search 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Yale, 199 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 300 16416 9
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... he really wants to get to know them. ‘Desire makes all things flourish,’ Proust wrote at the age of 18, ‘possession withers them.’ It was an insight from which he never recovered. As Benjamin Taylor puts it in his new biography, Proust’s ‘vitality’ was ‘checkmated by the excess of self-seeing’; knowing these people – knowing anyone – ended in catastrophic disappointment. Only a new ...
14 June 2017
Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark​ Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... In​ 1619, for a bet, John Taylor – prolific poet, proud Londoner, waterman, prankster, anti-pollution campaigner, barman, literary celebrity, palindrome enthusiast (‘Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel’) – sailed forty miles ...

Small America

Michael Peel: A report from Liberia

7 August 2003
... a Liberian woman in the queue at Immigration. ‘It’s still the same,’ she said. In 1998, Liberia had just emerged from another devastating civil conflict, in which the current President, Charles Taylor, played a leading role. A former Government minister who fell out with the military regime of Samuel Doe, Taylor managed to escape from a Massachusetts jail in 1985: he was being held pending ...

Strange Little Woman

Ferdinand Mount: First and Only Empress

22 November 2018
Empress: Queen Victoria and India 
by Miles Taylor.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 300 11809 4
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Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent 
by Emily Hannam.
Royal Collections Trust, 256 pp., £45, June 2018, 978 1 909741 45 4
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Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-76 
by Kajal Meghani.
Royal Collections Trust, 216 pp., £29.95, March 2017, 978 1 909741 42 3
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... away from closer examination of Queen Victoria’s role as empress, but the subject is a fascinating one, not least for the unexpected light it shines on India’s emergence as a nation state. Miles Taylor is better known as a historian of Chartism and Victorian radical politics generally, but this background comes in handy here, as he takes the queen out of court politics and into the popular arena ...

Is It Glamorous?

David Simpson: Stefan Collini among the Intellectuals

6 March 2008
Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 544 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 19 929105 5
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... to learn that the combined circulation of the three periodicals in which most of his essays appeared was only about half that of the publication you are now reading. On the other hand, A.J.P. Taylor wrote some 1500 book reviews in the course of his career, many of which appeared in the Sunday Express, which in the late 1950s had a circulation of four million and paid him up to £100 a time – a ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior

12 March 2009
The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... revolutionary bourgeois. So was Marx. Nowadays, Cobden is revered as the father of free trade: one of those great Victorian achievements which, like sewers, public libraries and bicycles, seems to mark the dawn of civilised modernity. He led the crusade against the Corn Laws – the notorious ‘bread tax’ of 1815, a tariff on imports designed to subsidise the British farmer – and campaigned ...

One Good Side

Brendan Simms: Edvard Benes

18 February 1999
The Life of Edvard Benes, 1884-1948: Czechoslovakia in Peace and War 
by Zbynek Zeman and Antonin Klimek.
Oxford, 293 pp., £40, July 1997, 9780198205838
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... Edvard Benes, as A.J.P. Taylor once remarked, enjoyed the doubtful distinction of having signed away his country twice, once to the Germans, and later to the Russians. His capitulation at Munich in 1938, the betrayal by Britain ...

How do you see Susan?

Mary Beard: No Asp for Zenobia

20 March 2003
Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth 
by Michel Chauveau, translated by David Lorton.
Cornell, 104 pp., £14.95, April 2002, 0 8014 3867 5
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The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations 
by Maria Wyke.
Oxford, 452 pp., £40, March 2002, 9780198150756
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... his way to reinventing himself as Rome’s benevolent autocrat, its first (and almost only) ‘good’ Emperor, Augustus. Three days of triumphal procession through the streets of the capital – to mark his victories over an assortment of Northern barbarians, over Mark Antony’s forces at the battle of Actium and finally over Egypt itself – were to draw a line under civil war and inaugurate the ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Preposterous Arrangements

18 August 1983
... on ‘The Greek Way of Life’ given by Stoughton Holborn, a figure now forgotten. The most powerful lecture climax I heard from him was: ‘To confuse nudity with indecency is the distinguishing mark of the barbarian.’ I wonder whether the Greeks really said this. Stoughton Holborn certainly said it with a strong Scotch accent. Nothing of the slightest interest seems to be happening in public ...

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