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Cures for Impotence

James Davidson, 19 October 1995

Foucault’s Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality 
by Simon Goldhill.
Cambridge, 194 pp., £30, January 1995, 0 521 47372 1
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... work, taking precedence over the philosophical rulebooks and homilies favoured by Foucault and Peter Brown in their researches on sexuality. This deliberate prioritising of the erotic genre over the philosophical is celebrated by a striking image on the cover: Aristotle, on all fours, ridden by the hetaera Phyllis brandishing a whip. Considered morally ...

To the crows!

James Davidson, 27 January 1994

The Oldest Dead White European Males, and Other Reflections on the Classics 
by Bernard Knox.
Norton, 144 pp., £12.95, September 1993, 0 393 03492 5
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... citizen, described by Robert Fagles as ‘arguably the finest Classicist of our day’, by Peter Green as one his nation ‘ought to bronze’, and by Jasper Griffin as a man ‘one would like to have as a friend’. In his long career he has written on many subjects: scholarly articles on the heroes of Attic drama in its golden age, unsentimental ...


James Davidson, 8 February 1996

The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe 
by John Boswell.
Fontana, 412 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 00 686326 4
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... ghastly portent, if women calved, or cows Gave birth to lambs? as Juvenal put it (with thanks to Peter Green). We have come a long way, of course, since that hysterical outburst. Having seen millennia come and go we have a right to be blasé about millennial prodigies. Genetic engineers have not yet managed the cow that walks on water, but the land-lubbing ...

At the Architects’

Alice Spawls: Whirling Automata, 4 July 2019

... Next door​ to the London Review Bookshop is a firm of architects, Rodić Davidson, who often have interesting displays in their windows. Usually these relate to the tools and forms of their trade, but at the moment they have six stirring, whirling automata created by Paul Spooner. They can be observed in motion on the hour, every hour, but are almost as nice when they are still ...

Only Sentences

Ray Monk, 31 October 1996

Wittgenstein’s Place in 20th-Century Analytic Philosophy 
by P.M.S. Hacker.
Blackwell, 368 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 631 20098 3
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Wittgenstein: Mind and Will, Vol. IV of an Analytical Commentary on the ‘Philosophical Investigations’ 
by P.M.S. Hacker.
Blackwell, 742 pp., £90, August 1996, 0 631 18739 1
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... than justice to the spirit of Wittgenstein’s work, a welcome alternative view is provided by Peter Hacker’s new book, Wittgenstein’s Place in 20th-Century Analytic Philosophy. This was written as a synoptic essay to accompany the huge four-part Analytical Commentary on the ‘Philosophical Investigations’, which he began working on twenty years ago ...

Illustrating America

Peter Campbell, 21 March 1985

Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture 
by Paul Cummings, Jorn Merkert and Claire Stoullig.
Norton, 308 pp., £35, August 1984, 0 393 01840 7
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Abstract Expressionist Painting in America 
by William Seitz.
Harvard, 490 pp., £59.95, February 1984, 0 674 00215 6
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About Rothko 
by Dore Ashton.
Oxford, 225 pp., £15, August 1984, 0 19 503348 5
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The Art of the City: Views and Versions of New York 
by Peter Conrad.
Oxford, 329 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 19 503408 2
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... of de Kooning’s paintings does it appear as subject-matter (or at least give title-material). Peter Conrad, whose subject is versions and visions of New York, thus has no place for Rothko or de Kooning in his book: with the Pop artists – like Oldenburg – he finds work which can illustrate his theme. In each of his chapters he shows how different ...


James Davidson: Olives, 16 April 1998

Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit 
by Mort Rosenblum.
Absolute, 320 pp., £14.95, November 1997, 1 899791 36 1
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... characters it is the Italians, it seems, who always take centre-stage. They emerge as the Peter Mandelsons of the olive world, able to sell everything but themselves, bad-mouthed for bad-mouthing rivals, while buying up the cream of their crop and selling it as their own. They may grow fewer olives than the Spaniards, but they have cultivated ...

Stage Emperor

James Davidson, 28 April 1994

Reflections of Nero: Culture, History and Representation 
edited by Jás Elsner and Jamie Masters.
Duckworth, 239 pp., £35, January 1994, 0 7156 2479 2
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... the greatest thanks are probably owed to the casting director. With the irreproachably civilised Peter Ustinov representing him on the screen Nero’s ghost could at last begin to rest in ...

An Easy Lay

James Davidson: Greek tragedy, 30 September 1999

Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy 
edited by Simon Goldhill and Robin Osborne.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £45, June 1997, 0 521 64247 7
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The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy 
edited by P.E. Easterling.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £14.95, October 1997, 0 521 42351 1
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Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning 
by David Wiles.
Cambridge, 130 pp., £13.95, August 1999, 0 521 66615 5
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... that Aeschylus’ rival Phrynichus was particularly noted for his choreographies, or learn from Peter Wilson in Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy that the shawm (aulos) which always accompanied a performance came in various shapes and sizes depending on the musical context (the ‘wedding shawm’, for example, consisted of one ‘male’ and one ...

Matters of Taste

Peter Graham, 4 December 1986

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
by Harold McGee.
Allen and Unwin, 684 pp., £20, September 1986, 9780043060032
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The French Menu Cookbook 
by Richard Olney.
Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 86318 181 3
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Out to Lunch 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 240 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3091 1
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The Good Food Guide 1987 
edited by Drew Smith.
Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 340 39600 8
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... deeply serious, as in his frank and affectionate profiles of Elizabeth David, Claudia Roden, Alan Davidson and Christopher Driver. Above all, he has an endearingly amateur – in both senses – quality. Symptomatic of this is a detail volunteered by Ann Barr in her introduction. She tells us, with a pregnant use of the conjunction, that ‘he had a special ...


James Davidson: Apollonios Rhodios, 5 March 1998

Apollonios Rhodios: The Argonautika 
translated by Peter Green.
California, 480 pp., £45, November 1997, 0 520 07686 9
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... the poem, as well as the Argo, is delayed by a long digresson on the origin of the Etesian winds. Peter Green, meanwhile, a historian of the Hellenistic world, has spent the best part of a decade producing his annotated translation and uses his excellent Introduction to zoom in on Apollonius’ use of the fantastic. All of them challenge the notion of the ...

Flat-Nose, Stocky and Beautugly

James Davidson: Greek Names, 23 September 2010

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. V.A Coastal Asia Minor: Pontos to Ionia 
edited by T. Corsten.
Oxford, 496 pp., £125, March 2010, 978 0 19 956743 0
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... school I was surrounded by boys with what I still think of as normal classic names: Simon, Mark, Peter, Andrew, Paul, Martin, Michael, Stephen, Richard, Robert, David. Girls’ names remained more modish: some Sarahs, Anns and Elizabeths and even some residual Marys, but also plenty of Janets, Jackies, Lisas and Debbies, who soared and plummeted through the ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... was encouraged by his rejection by English girls. Heady on his home-brew of Nietzsche, John Davidson, and almost any other literary material he could devour, this proto-MacDiarmid emerges as something of a sexual predator. 1918, for instance, sees a passionate affair with a Spanish girl in Salonika followed by a marriage to Peggy, his Scottish ...


A.J. Ayer, 20 May 1982

by Iain Hamilton.
Secker, 397 pp., £12, April 1982, 0 436 19191 1
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... much attention he has paid to the more recent work of philosophers like David Armstrong and Donald Davidson, who identify mental with neural events. I may add that although the acceptance of physicalism, in one form or another, is widespread among contemporary philosophers, with some notable exceptions, such as that of Karl Popper, I myself have still not been ...


Peter Wollen, 19 October 1995

Sex and Suits 
by Anne Hollander.
Knopf, 212 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 43096 2
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... with Beau Brummell, who wore the clothes rather than made them. His tailors were Schweitzer and Davidson in Cork Street, Meyer in Conduit Street and then Weston in Old Bond Street, ur-tailors who, through their connection with the Beau, played their part in the massive and virtually universal transformation of the way men dressed. Brummell was particularly ...

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