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Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... the competing claims of élitism and egalitarianism. Hence the ‘Dartington paradox’ which, as Michael Young admits, lies at the heart of their endeavours: ostensibly they had created a self-governing, fully democratic community, but as long as Leonard was the squire and Dorothy the paymaster, everyone knew where the real power lay. The story thus unfolded ...

Kripke versus Kant

Richard Rorty, 4 September 1980

Naming and Necessity 
by Saul Kripke.
Blackwell, 172 pp., £7.95, May 1980, 0 631 10151 9
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... impulses? Or does Kant have some sturdy intuitions on his side too? If semantics really is (as Michael Dummett has claimed) ‘first philosophy’, should we try desperately to make the right decision between Russell and Kripke, so as to know whether it will be necessary to reconstruct the rest of philosophy and culture? Modern thought on everything from ...


Inigo Thomas: New York Megacity, 16 August 2007

... up years ago – and because of it too: the pace of change has picked up since then. The mayor, Michael Bloomberg, sometimes talks about the importance of tourism to New York as if tourists were more important to the city than its inhabitants, but when you consider that 44 million tourists visited the city last year – an increase of 25 per cent since 2001 ...

Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs

James Davidson: Why would a guy want to marry a guy?, 2 June 2005

The Friend 
by Alan Bray.
Chicago, 380 pp., £28, September 2003, 0 226 07180 4
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... wake of Homosexuality in Renaissance England, confirming its conclusions with knobs on: notably Michael Rocke’s investigation of sodomy in Florence, Forbidden Friendships, which gives the impression that Michelangelo’s male contemporaries were all at it, most of the time, despite all the sermons, and quite oblivious to sexual orientation (which hadn’t ...

I told you so!

James Davidson: Oracles, 2 December 2004

The Road to Delphi: The Life and Afterlife of Oracles 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 271 pp., £17.99, January 2004, 0 7011 6546 4
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... for languages or football: because it’s beautiful. I have no idea what stars were rising when Michael Wood’s The Road to Delphi: The Life and Afterlife of Oracles pushed onto the planet’s surface, but so brainy a book must have a lot of air signs in its chart. It seems at first to have been born under the sign of Aquarius: analytical, determinedly ...


Alexander Nehamas, 22 May 1986

Contest of Faculties: Philosophy and Theory after Deconstruction 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 247 pp., £16, November 1985, 0 416 39939 8
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Philosophical Profiles 
by Richard Bernstein.
Polity, 313 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7456 0226 6
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Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism 
edited by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 146 pp., £12.75, November 1985, 0 226 53226 7
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... suspect, will find a number of weaknesses in Norris’s treatment of authors like Frege, Quine and Davidson. They will certainly remain (at best) unmoved by his confident view that ‘Derrida shows – in exemplary close-reading style – how Aristotle’s entire metaphysics rests on a notion of momentary consciousness which his text simultaneously works to ...

Southern Discomfort

Bertram Wyatt-Brown, 8 June 1995

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism 
by Eugene Genovese.
Harvard, 138 pp., £17.95, October 1994, 0 674 82527 6
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... Hawthorne. No circle in the South could match that intellectual array. Nevertheless, along with Michael O’Brien, Genovese has successfully revived interest in Southern antebellum thinkers whose obscurity, they claim, is unmerited. The Southern Tradition reaffirms his long-standing devotion to the pro-slavery thinkers but takes still greater delight in ...

Eric the Nerd

Ian Hamilton: The Utterly Complete Orwell, 29 October 1998

The Complete Works of George Orwell 
edited by Peter Davidson.
Secker, £750, July 1998, 0 436 20377 4
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... marriage – well, more about Eileen – but the relationship is still something of a puzzle. Michael Shelden, in his 1991 biography, had various theories and was confident that both Eileen and Orwell had extra-marital affairs – she more than he, perhaps. And Orwell, in a letter published here in full, explicitly confirms this general picture, though he ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... Ulrich? Nothing about the unheralded 1966 Wimbledon champion, Mañuel Santana, the Swedes, Sven Davidson and his predecessor (later Borg’s coach) the diabetic Lennart Bergelin? No references to the great Nicola Pietrangeli, the minuscule Beppe Merlo, the dashing Adriano Panatta, all of them longtime stars of Italian and world tennis. Latin Americans like ...

His Fucking Referendum

David Runciman: What Struck Cameron, 10 October 2019

For the Record 
by David Cameron.
William Collins, 732 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 0 00 823928 2
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... putting the finishing touches to a government reshuffle that would see him shunt his old friend Michael Gove from the Department of Education to a new role as chief whip. In effect he was clearing the decks for the following year’s election and he needed one of his most contentious and least popular ministers to be less visible. Still, he discussed it ...

The Sponge of Apelles

Alexander Nehamas, 3 October 1985

The Skeptical Tradition 
by Myles Burnyeat.
California, 434 pp., £36.75, June 1984, 0 520 03747 2
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The Modes of Scepticism: Ancient Texts and Modern Interpretations 
by Julia Annas and Jonathan Barnes.
Cambridge, 204 pp., £20, May 1985, 0 521 25682 8
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Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties 
by P.F. Strawson.
Methuen, 98 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 416 39070 6
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Hume’s Skepticism in the ‘Treatise of Human Nature’ 
by Robert Fogelin.
Routledge, 195 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 7102 0368 3
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The Refutation of Scepticism 
by A.C. Grayling.
Duckworth, 150 pp., £18, May 1985, 0 7156 1922 5
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The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism 
by Barry Stroud.
Oxford, 277 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 19 824730 3
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... Burnyeat and Jonathan Barnes in The Skeptical Tradition and elsewhere, as well as in papers by Michael Frede. But what is also needed is a more elementary account of Scepticism, a presentation of the Sceptics’ main approaches when undermining their opponents’ views and reaching their own position. This need is addressed by The Modes of Scepticism, a ...

In Defence of Rights

Philippe Sands and Helena Kennedy, 3 January 2013

... and all the more so after the loss of one of our Conservative members, the political scientist Michael Pinto-Duschinsky (who managed with admirable agility to jump in mid-air, having been pushed off the ledge by his own side). Even so, we all knew that our views ranged so far across the political spectrum that the chances of meaningful consensus were not ...

Against Whales

Paul Keegan, 20 July 1995

The Moon by Whale Light 
by Diane Ackerman.
Phoenix, 260 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 1 85799 087 0
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The Last Panda 
by George Schaller.
Chicago, 292 pp., $13.95, May 1993, 0 226 73629 6
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The Great Ape Project 
edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer.
Fourth Estate, 312 pp., £9.99, June 1993, 1 85702 126 6
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... gorilla stubbornness and negativism have been encountered and documented in our work with Koko and Michael, but certain findings indicate that this is evidence of intelligence and independence rather than of stupidity.’ Some apes may prefer playing Groucho to joining the Club. Much close-minded reasoning about propositional attitudes in animals (by Donald ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson, 7 March 2013

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... already mustered in Serbia: the missing word here would be ‘henceforth’. Nonetheless Basil Davidson, a liaison officer with Tito’s partisans, felt that E.P. had it right about the drops to Frank and his crew: London wanted the Bulgarian operation to wither. That might have been a tactical decision based on intelligence from the liaison officers ...

Time Unfolded

Perry Anderson: Powell v. the World, 2 August 2018

... reaction is to recall a Scottish poet, not exactly a household name: Some lines of John Davidson suddenly came into my head: ‘And so they wait, while empires sprung Of hatred thunder past above, Deep in the earth for ever young Tannhäuser and the Queen of Love’ On reflection, the situation was not a very close parallel, because it was most ...

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