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Take out all the adjectives

Jeremy Harding: The poetry of George Oppen, 6 May 2004

New Collected Poems 
by George Oppen, edited by Michael Davidson.
Carcanet, 433 pp., £14.95, July 2003, 1 85754 631 8
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... over which time passes-a false light. In his introduction to the New Collected Works, Michael Davidson calls Discrete Series a ‘rather modest book’, but this is true only of its size. Andrew Crozier is surely right to say, in Modern American Poetry (1984), that it is ‘almost too deliberately calculated, with an unconcealed but obscure ...


Christopher Peacocke, 18 December 1986

Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson 
edited by Ernest LePore.
Blackwell, 520 pp., £29.50, April 1986, 0 631 14811 6
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... philosophy, has edited the proceedings of the 1984 Rutgers conference on the philosophy of Donald Davidson. The scale of that conference is reflected in the size of this volume, which contains 28 substantial papers. And this is but half the story: a companion volume of similar size, drawn from the same conference, and dealing with ...

Victim’s Voice

Julie Davidson, 24 January 1991

Rape: My Story 
by Jill Saward and Wendy Green.
Bloomsbury, 153 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0751 1
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... were watching a bland television soap opera called The Sullivans when her father, the Reverend Michael Saward, Vicar of St Mary’s, Ealing, opened the door to three men wearing balaclavas and brandishing knives. After they had ransacked the house, two of the men raped Jill. Her father and boyfriend were tied up and beaten unconscious. For all the ...

People’s War

John Ellis, 19 February 1981

Tomorrow at Dawn 
by J.G. de Beus.
Norton, 191 pp., £5.75, April 1980, 0 393 01263 8
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The Crucible of War 
by Barrie Pitt.
Cape, 506 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 0 224 01771 3
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by Richard Rhodes James.
Murray, 214 pp., £10.50, August 1980, 0 7195 3746 0
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The Chief 
by Ronald Lewin.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780091425005
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Special Operations Europe: Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War 
by Basil Davidson.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 575 02820 3
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... memoir and covers a lot of the ground already traversed by John Masters, Bernard Fergusson and Michael Calvert. Yet it is none the less welcome for that. Despite the profusion of fighting soldiers’ memoirs, from all fronts, the appalling severity of their ordeal is still not properly appreciated. This is one genre that still has vital evidence to offer ...

Objections to Chomsky

Michael Dummett, 3 September 1981

Rules and Representations 
by Noam Chomsky.
Blackwell, 299 pp., £7.50, August 1980, 0 631 12641 4
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... one possible answer to the question in what sense the postulated structure is mental. In some of Davidson’s influential writings on the philosophy of language (not mentioned in Chomsky’s book), he claims that the proper method is to ask, for any given language, what body of knowledge would be required for someone to be able, in virtue of his explicit ...

The Contingency of Community

Richard Rorty, 24 July 1986

... I want to take up some comments on Berlin’s essay by an acute critic of the liberal tradition, Michael Sandel. Berlin ‘comes perilously close to foundering on the relativist predicament’: If one’s convictions are only relatively valid, why stand for them unflinchingly? In a tragically configured moral universe, such as Berlin assumes, is the ideal ...

Only Sentences

Ray Monk, 31 October 1996

Wittgenstein’s Place in 20th-Century Analytic Philosophy 
by P.M.S. Hacker.
Blackwell, 368 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 631 20098 3
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Wittgenstein: Mind and Will, Vol. IV of an Analytical Commentary on the ‘Philosophical Investigations’ 
by P.M.S. Hacker.
Blackwell, 742 pp., £90, August 1996, 0 631 18739 1
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... questions has become: what is analytical philosophy? An influential answer has been provided by Michael Dummett, until recently the Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford and the author of several important books on Frege and the philosophy of language. Significantly, Dummett’s most recent books have been concerned with history, particularly his Origins of ...

Athenian View

Michael Brock, 12 March 1992

Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 383 pp., £40, September 1991, 0 19 820173 7
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... examples of academic caution than those cited would have come to hand. Strongly as Strachan-Davidson objected to Home Rule, he declined to sign Milner’s petition when the crisis came in March 1914. As Master of Balliol, he explained, he had always preached to his colleagues ‘that they should refrain from taking part in contentious ...


James Davidson: Face to Face with Merce Cunningham, 2 November 2000

... I went to see London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Ballet Rambert at the Oxford Apollo and one of Michael Clark’s earliest forays at the Museum of Modern Art, barebottomed in Bodymap and long sleeves. There wasn’t much more than that going on in London but they did get Merce Cunningham at Sadler’s Wells every now and again, and that was a revelation. I ...

Righteous Turpitudes

Basil Davidson, 27 September 1990

British Intelligence in the Second World War. Vol. V: Strategic Deception 
by Michael Howard.
HMSO, 266 pp., £12.95, July 1990, 0 11 630954 7
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... which so far runs to four volumes by F.H. Hinsley and three collaborators, and now this volume by Michael Howard, the astonishing record is clear and long but also – strangely for a subject of such encrusted deviousness – entirely believable. With admirable skills of exposition and a truly awesome mastery of deception’s dodgy ambience and ...

You Know Who You Are

Colin Kidd: About Last Year, 25 January 2018

Fall Out: A Year Of Political Mayhem 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 559 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 0 00 826438 3
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... Jeremy Corbyn, however maladroit and out of step with the party’s rebranding since the era of Michael Foot, is the darling of the growing Labour membership, and that his performance in the general election of 2017 vastly exceeded the party’s expectations. For all that the Labour Party has tried to exploit Remainer discontent with the May government’s ...

That’s what Wystan says

Seamus Perry, 10 May 2018

Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography 
by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 912 pp., £27.95, May 2017, 978 0 691 17249 1
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... his superhuman consumption of Player’s, and all the benzedrine, could hardly have helped. But Michael Davidson, an early mentor, was not alone in seeking a more symbolic explanation and in seeing ‘those singular corrugations’ as the ‘seismic result of terrific intellectual commotion’. Auden seemed in later years to have been encased behind a ...

Misunderstanding Yugoslavia

Basil Davidson, 23 May 1996

Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War 
by Susan Woodward.
Brookings, 536 pp., £35.50, May 1995, 0 8157 9514 9
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... followed, and was accompanied elsewhere by Croat aggressions no more forgivable. The economist Michael Barrett Brown convincingly argues in The Yugoslav Tragedy * that the failure to cancel the petrodollar debts – not simply to reschedule them, which means merely that the country pays later at the same unrelenting rates of interest – was essentially ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... boys with what I still think of as normal classic names: Simon, Mark, Peter, Andrew, Paul, Martin, Michael, Stephen, Richard, Robert, David. Girls’ names remained more modish: some Sarahs, Anns and Elizabeths and even some residual Marys, but also plenty of Janets, Jackies, Lisas and Debbies, who soared and plummeted through the bestseller lists in the space ...

Conversations with Rorty

Paul Seabright, 16 June 1983

Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 
by Richard Rorty.
Harvester, 237 pp., £22.50, February 1983, 0 7108 0403 2
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... loom large in this pantheon are Hegel, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Dewey, Cavell, James, Davidson and Derrida. At its best, Rorty’s writing has energy, humour, great tolerance, an exemplary clarity that can illuminate even the darker reaches of Heidegger, and above all a rare ability to communicate enthusiasm and sheer love of ideas. At its ...

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