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17 December 1981
The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul 
edited by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett.
Harvester, 448 pp., £9.95, November 1981, 0 7108 0352 4
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... Both this and the following statement are false. Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett’s book is well worth £9.95. One does not have to be a philosopher to realise that I have already gone further than a humble book-reviewer should. The value of the book under review is, you might think, a matter of opinion. Not so. It has now been established as a logically necessary truth ...

New Ideas, Old Ideas

Nicholas Humphrey

6 December 1979
Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity 
by Gregory Bateson.
Wildwood, 238 pp., £7.50
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... At the end of his life, the distinguished biologist C.H. Waddington took part in a discussion about the nature of mind. The circumstances were unusual. Waddington lay flat on his back, and his words were read from a prepared text by a friend. The discussion between him and the other two participants was lively: until, that is, there came a point when Waddington, having momentarily silenced his colleagues, abruptly left the room ...

An Ecology of Ecstasy

Nicholas Humphrey

17 April 1980
The Spiritual Nature of Man 
by Alister Hardy.
Oxford, 162 pp., £6.95, December 1979, 0 19 824618 8
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... Suddenly amid the sadness, spiritual darkness and depression, his brain seemed to catch fire, and with an extraordinary momentum his vital forces were strained to the utmost all at once. His sensation of being alive and his awareness increased tenfold … His mind and heart were flooded by a dazzling light. All his agitation, all his doubts and worries, seemed composed in a twinkling, culminating in a great calm, full of serene and harmonious joy and hope, full of understanding and the knowledge of the final cause ...

Pictures of Ourselves

P.N. Johnson-Laird

22 December 1983
Consciousness Regained: Chapters in the Development of Mind 
by Nicholas Humphrey.
Oxford, 222 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 9780192177322
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... of what happened to my father, for this book, too, brings together consciousness and a bomb. Nicholas Humphrey is an experimental psychologist, who is interested in art, culture, politics and the mind; and he tells us that he would have liked to have written a ‘real book’ which brought together all his ideas on these topics. Instead, he has ...
10 September 1992
A History of the Mind 
by Nicholas Humphrey.
Chatto, 230 pp., £16.99, May 1992, 0 7011 3995 1
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... solved the mind-body problem, since we would understand how consciousness arises from matter. Nicholas Humphrey’s book is a bold and speculative attempt to reconstruct mental history and hence to develop a theory of consciousness. He has a good project, and he is bracingly undaunted by its difficulty. He has a number of interesting and sensible ...

Straw Ghosts

Nicholas Humphrey

2 October 1980
This house is haunted: An Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist 
by Guy Lyon Playfair.
Souvenir, 288 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 285 62443 1
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Science and the Supernatural 
by John Taylor.
Temple Smith, 180 pp., £7.50, June 1980, 0 85117 191 5
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... When I was an undergraduate at Cambridge I used sometimes to have tea with the philosopher C.D. Broad, and we would talk about ghosts. Professor Broad lived in Newton’s rooms in Trinity, and his favourite spot for talking and for tea was an armchair placed beside the window where in 1665 Newton caught a beam of sunlight in the prism he had bought at Stourbridge fair and spread it like a rainbow on the floor ...

Darkness Audible

Nicholas Spice

11 February 1993
Benjamin Britten 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Faber, 680 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 571 14324 5
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... the solipsist becomes the creature of another’s solipsism. For once, the subsumer is subsumed. Humphrey Carpenter’s assiduously documented biography leaves no doubt about the centripetal force of Benjamin Britten’s personality. Nor about the centrifugal violence with which people unwise enough to let themselves be sucked into that centre were so often ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: John White’s New World

5 April 2007
... privateers. The appetite of investors doubtless faded. It was, as Raleigh’s half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert put it, difficult to ‘carry over colonies into remote countries upon private men’s purses’. Someone, it seemed, needed to make a record of the good things that had been found and to give substance to travellers’ tales. Among the experts ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Breathless’

22 July 2010
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... the running of the thumb across the mouth, the enthralled, dreaming relationship to a poster of Humphrey Bogart: all this effort, this determined Wildean creation of the self as a work of art, and for what? So that you can look and behave not like a tough guy or even a thug but like a loser, the man who read the wrong manual. This is part of the film’s ...
6 February 1997
The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... to determine the tone of the presentation, the rhythm and contrasts of each evening’s schedule? Humphrey Carpenter’s detailed account suggests that the mandarins of the mid-Forties got the Third Programme right straight off. The BBC’s Director-General, William Haley, credited himself with having created the network by two decisions. Programmes should ...

Harrison Rex

Carey Harrison

7 November 1991
Conversations with Marlon Brando 
by Lawrence Grobel.
Bloomsbury, 177 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 9780747508168
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George Sanders: An Exhausted Life 
by Richard Vanderbeets.
Robson, 271 pp., £15.95, September 1991, 0 86051 749 7
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Rex Harrison: A Biography 
by Nicholas Wapshott.
Chatto, 331 pp., £16, October 1991, 0 7011 3764 9
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Me: Stories of my Life 
by Katharine Hepburn.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, September 1991, 0 670 83974 4
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... I resent other people putting it up’ – and the film-star celebrity cult: ‘Ask young kids who Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable was. “Didn’t he play for the Yankees?” “No, no, he was a tailbacker at Cincinnati.” ’ On the subject of the American Indian he is notably eloquent and concise – as he is, less predictably, on certain other ...


John Lanchester

16 November 1995
Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... wonderful letters to his friend James Stern, together with a biographical essay about Stern by Nicholas Jenkins; a memoir by Stella Musulin, a friend of Auden’s during his years at Kirchstetten in Austria; Edward Mendelson’s bibliography of published letters by Auden; and a symposium on Auden’s great poem ‘In Praise of Limestone’. The overall ...


James McConica

21 January 1982
by I.D. McFarlane.
Duckworth, 575 pp., £45, June 1981, 0 7156 0971 8
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... opposition. He was a friend to Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay and many of the Pléiade company; to Nicholas de Grouchy, the editor of Aristotle, Elie Vinet the mathematician and cosmographer, Peter Ramus, Henri Estienne, his collaborator and printer in a variety of works, and to Julius Caesar Scaliger, who held him in high regard. As these connections ...
16 March 2000
In House: Covent Garden, 50 Years of Opera and Ballet 
by John Tooley.
Faber, 318 pp., £25, November 1999, 9780571194155
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Never Mind the Moon: My Time at the Royal Opera House 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Bantam, 356 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 593 04355 3
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... but Moser’s Board took a different view, passing over the claims of music and theatre men like Humphrey Burton, John Drummond and Brian McMaster, and instead gambling that Isaacs would find a proper place for Covent Garden in a televisual age. Isaacs knew that the House was adrift. He looked forward to bringing a sense of purpose and adventure to the ...

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