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The Europe to Come

Perry Anderson, 25 January 1996

The Rotten Heart of Europe 
by Bernard Connolly.
Faber, 427 pp., £17.50, September 1995, 0 571 17520 1
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Orchestrating Europe: The Informal Politics of European Union 1973-93 
by Keith Middlemas.
Fontana, 821 pp., £27.50, November 1995, 0 00 255678 2
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... On New Year’s Day 1994, Europe – the metonym – changed names. The dozen nations of the Community took on the title of Union, though as in a Spanish wedding, the new did not replace but encompassed the old. Was anything of substance altered? So far, very little. The member states have risen to 15, with the entry of three former neutrals. Otherwise things are much as they were before ...

An Entire Order Converted into What It Was Intended to End

Perry Anderson: Italy’s Decline, 26 February 2009

La Casta: Cosi i Politici Italiani sono Diventati Intoccabili 
by Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella.
Rizzoli, 285 pp., €18, May 2007, 978 88 17 01714 5
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La Deriva: Perche l’Italia Rischia il Naufragio 
by Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella.
Rizzoli, 342 pp., €19.50, May 2008, 978 88 17 02562 1
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... In 1992-94 Italy was widely held to have been reborn. The parties that had long ruled – latterly misruled – the country were all but wiped out, after their corruption had been exposed by a fearless group of magistrates, in an election under a new and, so it was felt, more functional system, even if the government that emerged from the polls was a surprise to many who celebrated the end of the old regime ...

The Age of EJH

Perry Anderson: Eric Hobsbawm’s Memoirs, 3 October 2002

Interesting Times: A 20th-Century Life 
by Eric Hobsbawm.
Allen Lane, 448 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 7139 9581 5
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... What apter practitioners of autobiography than historians? Trained to examine the past with an impartial eye, alert to oddities of context and artifices of narrative, they would appear to be the ideal candidates for the difficult task of the self-description of a life. Yet strangely it is not they but philosophers who have excelled at the genre – indeed all but invented it ...

High Jinks at the Plaza

Perry Anderson, 22 October 1992

The British Constitution Now 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 289 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 47994 2
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Constitutional Reform 
by Robert Brazier.
Oxford, 172 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 876257 7
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Anatomy of Thatcherism 
by Shirley Letwin.
Fontana, 364 pp., £6.99, October 1992, 0 00 686243 8
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... Constitutional theorists who wish to hold our attention must charm as well as instruct; this is not so, I think, in other countries,’ writes Ferdinand Mount. Who better to illustrate the claim? Few figures in the world of English letters possess such a combination of credentials. Author of a number of novels; columnist or leader-writer for half of the nation’s press, with a record of service from the Sketch to the Spectator; champion of family values; political counsellor at Downing Street: the editor of the Times Literary Supplement seems the ideal candidate for the task in hand ...

England’s Isaiah

Perry Anderson, 20 December 1990

The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas 
by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy.
Murray, 276 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 9780719547898
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... Intellectual hero to Noel Annan, whose political heroine is Margaret Thatcher, should Isaiah Berlin be left to the – ‘unfashionable’ – enthusiasms of Our Age? Or consigned to the plaudits that have broken out for his latest volume from the Spectator to the New Statesman? He himself strikes a more modest note. ‘I talk about other people. I examine their views ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel, 28 July 2011

... Within the huge multiverse of prose fiction the historical novel has, almost by definition, been the most consistently political. It is no surprise that it should have occasioned what is still probably the best-known of all works of Marxist literary theory, Lukács’s The Historical Novel, written in Russian exile in the 1930s. Any reflection on the strange career of this form has to begin there, however far it may then wander from him ...

A Ripple of the Polonaise

Perry Anderson: Work of the Nineties, 25 November 1999

History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the Nineties 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... Western curiosity about other lands has a long history as a literary phenomenon – its fashionable origins are generally dated to the Grand Siècle, the time of the voyages to Mughal India of François Bernier or Thomas Coryate. Distinctions between the more advanced European cultures in the volume or quality of travellers’ tales would be difficult to make for most of the modern period ...

Under the Sign of the Interim

Perry Anderson, 4 January 1996

The European Rescue of the Nation-State 
by Alan Milward.
Routledge, 506 pp., £17.99, May 1994, 0 415 11133 1
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The Frontier of National Sovereignty: History and Theory 1945-1992 
by Alan Milward.
Routledge, 248 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 415 11784 4
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Jean Monnet: The First Statesman of Interdependence 
by François Duchêne.
Norton, 278 pp., $35, January 1995, 0 393 03497 6
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... Mathematically, the European Union today represents the largest single unit in the world economy. It has a nominal GNP of about six trillion dollars, compared with five trillion for the US and three trillion for Japan. Its total population, now over 360 million, approaches that of the United States and Japan combined. Yet in political terms such magnitudes continue to be virtual reality ...

The German Question

Perry Anderson: Goodbye to Bonn, 7 January 1999

... Helmut Kohl’s election campaign drew to a close on a perfect autumn evening in the cathedral square of Mainz, capital of the Rhine Palatinate, where he had begun his political career. As night fell, the towers of the great sandstone church glowed a dusky red above the baroque market place, packed with supporters. Making his way to the front of this scene, the ‘Chancellor of Unity’ delivered a confident address to the crowd of Christian Democrat Union (CDU) loyalists, brushing aside the barracking from pockets of Far Left youth on the edges of the square ...

Witchcraft

Perry Anderson, 8 November 1990

Storia Notturna: Una Decifrazione del Sabba 
by Carlo Ginzburg.
Einaudi, 320 pp., lire 45,000, August 1989, 9788806115098
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... Carlo Ginzburg has many claims to be considered the outstanding European historian of the generation which came of age in the late Sixties. Certainly few have equalled him in originality, variety and audacity. He made his debut with a spectacular discovery: the first, and still only, documented case of a magical fertility and funerary cult in the countryside of Early Modern Europe, the trances of the Benandanti in Friuli, stumbled upon unawares by the Roman Inquisition ...

The Dark Side of Brazilian Conviviality

Perry Anderson, 24 November 1994

... Brazil today has a larger population and gross national product than Yeltsin’s Russia. Yet, against all reason, it continues to occupy a curiously marginal position in the contemporary historical consciousness. In 15 years it has left virtually no trace in these pages. Popular images, despite increasing tourism, remain scanty: folk-villains on the run, seasonal parades in fancy-dress, periodic football triumphs ...

An Invertebrate Left

Perry Anderson, 12 March 2009

... The Italian left was once the largest and most impressive popular movement for social change in Western Europe. Comprising two mass parties, each with its own history and culture, and each committed not to ameliorating but to overcoming capitalism, the postwar alliance between Socialists and Communists, the PSI and PCI, did not survive the boom of the 1950s ...

Confronting Defeat

Perry Anderson: Hobsbawm’s Histories, 17 October 2002

... Presented as a pendant to Age of Extremes, a personal portrait hung opposite the historical landscape, what light does Interesting Times throw on Eric Hobsbawm’s vision of the 20th century, and overall narrative of modernity?1 In overarching conception, The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and Age of Extremes can be regarded as a single enterprise – a tetralogy which has no equal as a systematic account of how the contemporary world was made ...

The Intransigent Right at the End of the Century

Perry Anderson, 24 September 1992

Rationalism in Politics, and Other Essays 
by Michael Oakeshott, edited by Timothy Fuller.
Liberty, 556 pp., $24, October 1991, 0 86597 094 7
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... A few months alter the fall of Margaret Thatcher, the most original thinker of post-war Conservatism died. Perhaps partly because of the commotion caused by the change of national leadership, the passing of Michael Oakeshott did not attract much public notice. Even the Spectator, which might have been expected to mark the event with a full salute, ignored it for half a year, before carrying a curiously distracted piece by its editor, reporting strange losses in the philosopher’s papers, without so much as mentioning his political ideas ...

Nation-States and National Identity

Perry Anderson, 9 May 1991

The Identity of France. Vol. II: People and Production 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sian Reynolds.
Collins, 781 pp., £25, December 1990, 0 00 217774 9
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... The most renowned historian of his time. Fernand Braudel owed his international reputation to the two great volumes on the Mediterranean in the age of Philip II which he published in 1949, and to his trilogy on the material civilisation of world capitalism, which appeared between 1967 and 1979. He died a few months before the first volumes of his incomplete final work came out in 1986 ...

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