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Martin Jay, 10 June 1993

Notes to Liteature: Vols I-II 
by Theodor Adorno, edited by Rolf Tiedemann, translated by Shierry Weber.
Columbia, 284 pp., $35, June 1992, 9780231069120
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... Adorno once called his writings Flaschenpost, messages in bottles tossed into the ‘flood of barbarism bursting on Europe’ for the benefit of unknown future readers. The floodwaters have now mercifully receded, and the bottles sporadically wash up on foreign shores, thanks to intrepid translators taking on the challenge of Adorno’s idiosyncratic prose ...

The Trouble with Nowhere

Martin Jay, 1 June 2000

The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy 
by Russell Jacoby.
Basic Books, 256 pp., £17.95, April 1999, 0 465 02000 3
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Utopias: Russian Modernist Texts 1905-40 
edited by Catriona Kelly.
Penguin, 378 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 14 118081 1
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The Faber Book of Utopias 
edited by John Carey.
Faber, 560 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780571197859
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The Nazi War on Cancer 
by Robert Proctor.
Princeton, 390 pp., £18.95, May 1999, 0 691 00196 0
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... In 1967, Herbert Marcuse published a little essay entitled ‘The End of Utopia’, which now reads like a document of a long lost civilisation. Arguing against the pejorative use of the word as a synonym for the absurdly unrealisable, he held that ‘there is one valid criterion for possible realisation, namely, when the material and intellectual forces for the transformation are technically at hand although their rational application is prevented by the existing organisation of the forces of production ...

Against Solitude

Martin Jay: Karl Jaspers, 8 June 2006

Karl Jaspers, a Biography: Navigations in Truth 
by Suzanne Kirkbright.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, November 2004, 0 300 10242 9
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... Who now still reads Karl Jaspers? Compared to the other still influential giants of 20th-century German philosophy – Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Adorno, Habermas, Arendt, Cassirer and Wittgenstein (I’m including Austrians) – he has faded from the canon. At least in the English-speaking world, Jaspers is now remembered more for his writings on other thinkers, such as Nietzsche or Weber, and his complex friendships with figures like Heidegger and Arendt, than for his own work ...

Speaking Azza

Martin Jay: Where are you coming from?, 28 November 2002

Situatedness; Or, Why We Keep Saying Where We’re Coming From 
by David Simpson.
Duke, 290 pp., £14.50, March 2002, 0 8223 2839 9
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... As a colleague of David Simpson at the University of California and a friend graciously thanked in his acknowledgments, can I pretend to have the disinterestedness necessary to write an objective review of his book? Or, as a reviewer opening with a confession of this sort – what in the lingo of our day is called a ‘full disclosure’ – have I then somehow neutralised my personal stake in such a way that I can offer my opinion as unbiased? Can such reflexivity work to undo the debilitating effects of situatedness? These are the kinds of question that agonise Simpson, who has written Situatedness in the hope of stemming the tide of what he calls, following Andrew Sullivan, ‘azza’ declarations – ‘as a colleague of David Simpson’; ‘as a white, middle-class male’ – in the age of identity politics ...

Mendacious Flowers

Martin Jay: Clinton Baiting, 29 July 1999

All too Human: A Political Education 
by George Stephanopoulos.
Hutchinson, 456 pp., £17.99, March 1999, 0 09 180063 3
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No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 122 pp., £12, May 1999, 1 85984 736 6
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... jeremiads against character flaws in politicians can just as easily be used to discredit Martin Luther King as Bill Clinton. Black enthusiasm for Clinton may, in fact, reflect a sober ‘lesser evil’ policy that understands better than Hitchens, who pays no real price for his high-mindedness, the cost of giving power to the Newt Gingrichs and Trent ...

Lend me a fiver

Terry Eagleton: The grand narrative of experience, 23 June 2005

Songs of Experience: Modern American and European Variations on a Universal Theme 
by Martin Jay.
California, 431 pp., £22, January 2005, 0 520 24272 6
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... disliked the notion, suspecting it of dark metaphysical tendencies. For William Blake, from whom Martin Jay takes the title of his absorbing new study, experience is a domain of false consciousness and fruitless desire. For Romantics like Keats, by contrast, it is the zone of sensuous immediacy in which truth is revealed. Truth, for the Keatsian sort of ...

What to Tell the Axe-Man

Jeremy Waldron: Hypocrisy and Mendacity, 6 January 2011

Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond 
by David Runciman.
Princeton, 272 pp., £13.95, September 2010, 978 0 691 14815 1
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Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics 
by Martin Jay.
Virginia, 241 pp., $24.95, April 2010, 978 0 8139 2972 9
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... ability to discern the hypocrisy of others, whose motives, we believe, are not as pure as our own. Martin Jay, whose book The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics is also based on a set of lectures, sees these passages by Arendt as a powerful indication of why the demand for a politics of truth and transparency is bound to be self-defeating. ...

Qui êtes-vous, Sir Moses?

C.R. Whittaker, 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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... to be his natural allies we have to understand something of Finley’s background. Whether or not Martin Jay is correct in The Dialectical Imagination in crediting the Frankfurt Institut für Sozialforschung with such an influential part in the revitalisation of Marxism in the Thirties and Forties through the development of what they called Critical ...

Laid Down by Ranke

Peter Ghosh: Defending history, 15 October 1998

In Defence of History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Granta, 320 pp., £8.99, October 1998, 1 86207 068 7
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... is now a professor; the rise of the serious study of historiography; and the set of changes which Martin Jay has called ‘the linguistic turn’ in historical method – the shift not simply towards a greater preoccupation with language, but also towards ‘literature’ (in its broadest sense), and so towards culture. The ‘linguistic turn’ was not ...

The Irish Savant’s Problem

Julian Bell: Diderot on Blindness, 21 June 2012

Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay 
by Kate Tunstall.
Continuum, 238 pp., £17.99, August 2011, 978 1 4411 1932 2
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... monitor, that watching-machine. ‘The Enlightenment and the Revolution it helped spawn,’ Martin Jay wrote in Downcast Eyes, his historical survey of the rhetoric of vision, may ‘be justly said to have expressed that privileging of sight so often taken to characterise the modern era in general.’ By ‘so often taken’, he is referring to the ...

On Michael Neve

Mike Jay, 19 November 2019

... he dismissed this as a relic of a past life occasionally glimpsed in anecdotes of drinking with Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens, or lunching with Mick Jagger. He maintained he had done nothing to earn his credit for years, and as a result it took me a long time to recognise how considerable his contribution had been. The range of his two dozen pieces ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... and ‘travels a good deal.’ In form, Doctor Criminale is an old-fashioned quest novel. Francis Jay, a young British journalist – trained in deconstruction and cultural politics at Sussex – is left high and dry when his paper (evidently the ill-fated Sunday Correspondent) folds. Following a disastrous Booker ceremony at which he comports himself on ...

Diary

Jay Griffiths: Protesting at Fairmile, 8 May 1997

... has forgotten a sense of shame,’ says Moira at Newbury. ‘Here is valour,’ says Martin. ‘Here is honour. Your word is your honour.’ ‘Politics has been here for ten minutes.’ A politician, to them, is little more than the spiv on the street corner, minding his creases. Protesters love the past, and protect it by living in it. At first ...

Noddy is on page 248

Jay Griffiths: On the streets, 10 June 1999

The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest 
edited by Brian MacArthur.
Penguin, 440 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87052 8
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DIY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain 
edited by George McKay.
Verso, 310 pp., £11, July 1998, 1 85984 260 7
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... and war, and the selection provides a sober roll-call: Ida B. Wells, Aneurin Bevan, Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Its portrayal of the first half of the century has solidity; you are in safe, if stubby hands. There are also some poignant contributions: the broken dreams of Communism reported by former believers; Rabbi Stephen ...

Nothing but the Present

Lorna Scott Fox, 23 May 1996

The Law of Enclosures 
by Dale Peck.
Chatto, 287 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6160 4
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... thing the literary world noticed about Dale Peck was his youth. Now 28, he produced the harrowing Martin and John (attractively published in Britain as Fucking Martin) at 25. Why do we expect so little of the (not all that) young? Peck’s sophistication needs no excuse or applause on those grounds. There is something far ...

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