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The End

Malcolm Bull

11 March 1993
Posthistoire: Has History Come to an End? 
by Lutz Niethammer, translated by Patrick Camiller.
Verso, 176 pp., £19.95, January 1993, 0 86091 395 3
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When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture 
by Paul Boyer.
Harvard, 488 pp., £23.95, September 1992, 9780674951280
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... world is self-contradictory because it means that ‘the latter is brought into one and the same temporal series with the former’. The contradiction is neatly exemplified in the epigraph of PaulBoyer’s book by the hymn ‘When the Roll is Called up Yonder’: When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, And time shall be no more, And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair. If the end of time ...

Into the Mental Basement

Thomas Nagel: Science and Religion

19 August 2010
Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion 
by Barbara Herrnstein Smith.
Yale, 201 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 300 14034 7
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... them to think that scientific explanation trumps all other forms of understanding – an attitude known as scientism. Smith’s resistance is directed in detail against two anthropologists, Pascal Boyer and Scott Atran, whose analyses of religion are based on evolutionary psychology. Their approach, which she calls the ‘new naturalism’, holds that the operation of human minds can be understood ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson

18 December 1986
L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... Jean-François Boyer’s book on the Moonies is one of the most striking pieces of investigative writing that I have read for a long time. It tells the story of how Sun Myung Moon (his American name – real name, Young ...
8 June 1995
Northern Antiquity: The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and Saga 
edited by Andrew Wawn.
Hisarlik, 342 pp., £35, October 1994, 1 874312 18 4
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Heritage and Prophecy: Grundtvig and the English-Speaking World 
edited by A.M. Allchin.
Canterbury, 330 pp., £25, January 1994, 9781853110856
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... The ‘Viking’ is one of the strongest images in contemporary popular culture. As Régis Boyer remarks in his essay in Northern Antiquity on the French reception of Old Norse literature, Vikings look out, under their now traditional horned helmets, from every herring tin in the supermarket ...

Make for the Boondocks

Tom Nairn: Hardt and Negri

5 May 2005
Multitude 
by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £20, January 2005, 0 241 14240 7
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... the making wonderful”, in which “all things would be made perfect, once and for all”’. Later the notion was transmitted via Hebraism to Christianity. In When Time Shall Be No More (1992), PaulBoyer gave a graphic account of how strong this belief remains among born-again Americans, and more recently still Anatol Lieven has underlined the rapport between such apocalyptic convictions and US ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?

20 March 2008
A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... wrong. In standard genealogies, the biotech industry was created in 1976 ‘over a couple of beers’ at a bar, in a conversation between Robert Swanson, a 29-year-old venture capitalist, and Herbert Boyer, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco. Working with the Stanford geneticist Stanley Cohen, Boyer had helped to develop some elegant recombinant DNA technologies which ...

Look beyond the lips

Bee Wilson: Hedy Lamarr

28 July 2011
Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film 
by Ruth Barton.
Kentucky, 281 pp., £25.95, May 2011, 978 0 8131 2604 3
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... film Pépé le Moko, set among the criminals of the casbah. Lamarr plays Gaby, a sultry, high-class beauty in evening gown and pearls who falls in love with the gangster Pépé, played by Charles Boyer. Both Boyer and the film’s makers worried that Hedy’s performance would hurt its chances. In the end, though, it didn’t matter ‘whether Hedy could act. The critics agreed with one voice that ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors

3 January 2002
... When Aunty Myra joined the Waafs and went off to India that was Bette Davis too, a Leeds version of Now, Voyager, though I doubt that Aunty Myra ever had her Craven A lit by someone as refined as Paul Henreid, Australian lance-corporals more her line of thing. If not quite on the same footing as Davis or Crawford there were a whole string of tall, elegant ‘professional women’ who were stars in ...

Living Death

T.J. Clark: Among the Sarcophagi

7 January 2010
... lies at the heart of the stuff of human existence. Assmann’s judgment on our culture – its being essentially death-denying – is a topos. It crops up everywhere in the literature. The title of Paul Zanker and Björn Christian Ewald’s tremendous book on the Roman material – Mit Mythen leben (2004) – has the challenge to the present built into it, since ‘living with myth’ on the tomb ...

Beat the carpets later!

Michael Wood: Proust’s Noisy Neighbours

7 May 2014
Lettres à sa voisine 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Estelle Gaudry and Jean-Yves Tadié.
Gallimard, 86 pp., £11.40, October 2013, 978 2 07 014224 8
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... I may be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may, I fail to understand why a man needs thirty pages to describe how he tosses and turns in his bed before falling asleep’ (Georges Boyer for Ollendorff ). As Tadié crisply says in his biography, Proust was not part of these people’s world, ‘and he doesn’t write like them, since he doesn’t write like anybody’. Proust ...

Desperately Seeking Susan

Terry Castle: Remembering Susan Sontag

17 March 2005
... a part of our fragile bond. I scored a coup one time with some obscure Busoni arrangements she’d not heard of (though she assured me that ‘she had, of course, known the pianist’ – the late Paul Jacobs – ‘very well’); but I almost came a cropper when I confessed I had never listened to Janáček’s The Excursions of Mr Broucek. She gave me a surprised look, then explained, somewhat ...

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