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My Granny

Patrick Wall

20 May 1982
The Monkey Puzzle 
by John Gribbin and Jeremy Cherfas.
Bodley Head, 279 pp., £8.50, April 1982, 0 370 30469 1
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Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies 
by Michael Ruse.
Addison-Wesley, 356 pp., £6.95, April 1982, 0 201 06273 9
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The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution 
by Elaine Morgan.
Souvenir, 168 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 285 62509 8
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The Neck of the Giraffe, or Where Darwin went wrong 
by Francis Hitching.
Pan, 288 pp., £2.50, April 1982, 0 330 26643 8
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... If the reader prefers a sober consideration of these issues, he should read Darwin Defended by Michael Ruse, a professor of the history and philosophy of biology. We can now move to a section of the library which could be called ‘The Descent of Authors who write on the Descent of Man’. Ms Elaine Morgan is a fe-fi-fo-fuminist who writes books on ...

Intergalactic Jesus

Jerry Coyne: Darwinian Christians

9 May 2002
Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? The Relationship between Science and Religion 
by Michael Ruse.
Cambridge, 242 pp., £16.95, December 2001, 0 521 63144 0
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... and explaining the natural world, and religion to studying human purposes, meanings and values. Michael Ruse’s book is an astonishing contribution to this literature. It astonishes because of the bravado of its thesis. Instead of espousing Gould’s tame view that religion and science are distinct but complementary, ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Gone Girl’

22 October 2014
Gone Girl 
directed by David Fincher.
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... for Nick, and then two events occur that change everything. One is just poor plotting, a desperate ruse on the writer’s part, a hold-up ex machina. Amy is robbed of all the money she was carelessly carrying around to start her new life with, and has to resort to different, wilder methods of survival. The other is more interesting, and picks up one of the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’

30 August 2018
... drive a truck at great speed down a narrowing alley. The vehicle is too tall for the James Bond ruse of tilting it at an angle. It stays level and finally gets stuck between the walls. The two men leap out and climb onto two waiting motorcycles. It was all planned. This is where the mind comes back, of course, and we might think the attraction of the movie ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Non-Fiction’

7 November 2019
... Au Saint Benoît, fine food no doubt, but served at tables crowded together like desks in an overused classroom. Neither man has wine – publishing is not what it used to be. The novelist awkwardly asks about his novel and the publisher says he has read it and liked it. The novelist is not smart enough to see that this is the end of the road; just smart ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Project Nim’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’

8 September 2011
Project Nim 
directed by James Marsh.
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes 
directed by Rupert Wyatt.
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... a long leash. The title Project Nim suggests an account of the scientific inquiry, but that is a ruse. The film is really a quiet, melancholy biography. Marsh doesn’t comment on his human subjects, Nim’s ‘parents’, keepers, teachers, questioners, but he doesn’t need to. With only one exception, they are so pleased to be interviewed on film, so ...

Act like Men, Britons!

Tom Shippey: Celticity

31 July 2008
The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth, edited by Michael Reeve, translated by Neil Wright.
Boydell, 307 pp., £50, November 2007, 978 1 84383 206 5
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The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Broadview, 383 pp., £8.99, January 2008, 978 1 55111 639 6
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... that out is only the start of an immense process of comparison and collation, manageable (as Michael Reeve wryly remarked 17 years ago) only under ideal conditions unlikely ever to be fulfilled. That said, Reeve’s new text, a collation of 11 of the most important manuscripts, is probably the best we’ve had since Geoffrey put his pen down, and it ...

Protocols of Machismo

Corey Robin: In the Name of National Security

19 May 2005
Arguing about War 
by Michael Walzer.
Yale, 208 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 0 300 10365 4
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Chain of Command 
by Seymour Hersh.
Penguin, 394 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 7139 9845 8
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Torture: A Collection 
edited by Sanford Levinson.
Oxford, 319 pp., £18.50, November 2004, 0 19 517289 2
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... war and peace are questions of life and death. Not the death of some or even many people, but as Michael Walzer proposes in Arguing about War, the ‘moral as well as physical extinction’ of an entire people. True, it is only rarely that a nation will find its ‘ongoingness’ – its ability ‘to carry on, and also to improve on, a way of life handed ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland

21 April 1988
Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... Nurse, it would seem, knows best. In the inevitably gory climax Sheldon turns the tables. By a ruse, he manages simultaneously to incinerate his number one fan and the romance she has forced him to write. He finishes her off by choking her with the ashes of the novel. Rescued and patched together (what’s left of him), Sheldon, a wiser and sadder ...

Re-Readings

Chris Baldick

10 November 1988
Poetry, Language and Politics 
by John Barrell.
Manchester, 174 pp., £21.50, May 1988, 0 7190 2441 2
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Garden – Nature – Language 
by Simon Pugh.
Manchester, 148 pp., £25, May 1988, 0 7190 2824 8
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Writing Ireland: Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture 
by David Cairns and Shaun Richards.
Manchester, 178 pp., £21.50, May 1988, 0 7190 2371 8
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The Shakespeare Myth 
edited by Graham Holderness.
Manchester, 215 pp., £25, May 1988, 0 7190 1488 3
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... shitting in the kitchen instead, unless that, too, is merely another linguistic construct. The ruse indulged in here is a familiar kind of levitation in which the inescapable medium of culture and language is used as a pretext for annihilating what Kristeva or Lyotard (or was it Wordsworth?) called ‘rocks, and stones, and trees’. It is hard not to feel ...

Scrabble

Reg Gadney

26 January 1995
The Escape from Whitemoor Prison on Friday, 9 September 1994: The Woodcock Enquiry 
by John Woodcock.
HMSO, 144 pp., £16.50, December 1994, 0 10 127412 2
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... on a bridge. The police were, in fact, equipped only with powerful flashlights. The flashlight ruse, if that’s what it was, failed to scare the remaining two escapers, who headed into the fenland darkness. About an hour and a half after the break-out, a police helicopter using a thermal imager guided police on the ground to their hiding place. The last ...

Subversions

R.W. Johnson

4 June 1987
Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... and the Soviets had duped the West at every turn. The bitter Soviet-Yugoslav conflict? A mere ruse to fool the West: Tito was a KGB tool. The Sino-Soviet conflict? Another vast KGB ruse to make the West think the Chinese and Russians were at loggerheads when in fact they had planned the whole thing together. And so on ...

Pillors of Fier

Frank Kermode: Anthony Burgess

11 July 2002
Nothing like the Sun: reissue 
by Anthony Burgess.
Allison and Busby, 234 pp., £7.99, January 2002, 0 7490 0512 2
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... Pembroke. The Rival Poet of Sonnet 86 remains George Chapman, not, as some think, Samuel Daniel or Michael Drayton or Christopher Marlowe or Ben Jonson or, since his was assuredly an ‘alien pen’ (Sonnet 78), Torquato Tasso. Candidates for the doubtful honour of being the Dark Lady are discussed (so far as the list went in 1970) and a slight preference is ...

Moral Lepers

John Banville: Easter 1916

15 July 2015
Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £10.99, May 2015, 978 0 241 95424 9
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... no reference to Republicanism’. Similarly, and just as surprisingly, Townshend quotes Michael Collins, who had fought in 1916 and three years later became president of the IRB Supreme Council, insisting that ‘the cause was not the Irish Republic’ but ‘liberation from English occupation’.* Certainly it ‘did not change the relationship ...

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