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Peter Sedgwick, 17 September 1981

The Changing Face of Western Communism 
edited by David Childs.
Croom Helm, 288 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 85664 734 9
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The Politics of Eurocommunism: Socialism in Transition 
edited by Carl Boggs and David Plotke.
Macmillan, 476 pp., £12.50, June 1980, 0 333 29546 3
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Power and the Party: Changing Faces of Communism in Western Europe 
by Keith Middlemas.
Deutsch, 400 pp., £14.95, July 1980, 0 233 97151 3
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... As Philip Elliott and Philip Schlesinger argue in their admirable paper, ‘Eurocommunism: Their Word or Ours?’ (the most original contribution to the volume edited by David Childs), the term ‘Eurocommunism’ constitutes in the first place a resource in the ideological repertoire of certain commentators who are vehemently opposed to the arrival in power, for purposes of serious social transformation, of any Communist Party in the West ...

Honours for Craziness

Frank Cioffi, 17 June 1982

Psycho Politics 
by Peter Sedgwick.
Pluto, 292 pp., £4.95, January 1982, 0 86104 352 9
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The Voice of Experience 
by R.D. Laing.
Allen Lane, 178 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 7139 1330 4
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... Peter Sedgwick has given us an informative, penetrating, witty and critical account of anti-psychiatry as represented by Laing, Szasz, Goffman and Foucault. The central ambition of anti-psychiatry has been to replace the so-called medical model of mental illness by a ‘labelling’ one, according to which the behaviours which provoked diagnoses of psychopathology were not manifestations of some underlying pathology but merely conduct found obnoxious by the labellers ...

In the bright autumn of my senescence

Christopher Hitchens, 6 January 1994

In the Heat of the Struggle: Twenty-Five Years of ‘Socialist Worker’ 
by Paul Foot.
Bookmarks, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1993, 0 906224 94 2
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Why You Should Join the Socialists 
by Paul Foot.
Bookmarks, 70 pp., £1.90, November 1993, 0 906224 80 2
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... ale. I fell in with his plan. I had met the International Socialists. My new chum was called Peter Sedgwick, and he didn’t really wear the aspect of the recruiter. Well-known for his edition of Victor Serge, he was soon to become better known for his clinical evisceration of the work of R.D. Laing, and for his hilariously mordant critique of ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer, 2 December 1982

Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... Renaissance interest in the occult. One of the outstanding papers at this conference was that of Peter Burke, who may stand here as a representative of a much wider group of historians now increasingly concerned with the recovery of popular culture. That group is disparate, its motives no less so. The concept of sections of society ‘hidden from ...
... others) have called me a ‘right-wing socialist’ (Michael Foot) and ‘social democratic’ (Peter Sedgwick), perhaps not noticing that I, too, have been on a long journey, affected by Orwell as well as studying him (he does exemplify the non-Marxist ‘English socialist’ tradition, like Tawney, Cole and Foot himself). Many of us have been ...

Double Duty

Lorna Scott Fox: Victor Serge, 22 May 2003

Victor Serge: The Course Is Set on Hope 
by Susan Weissman.
Verso, 364 pp., £22, September 2001, 1 85984 987 3
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... consciousness of the post-Revolutionary ‘new man’. An article by Richard Greeman – who, with Peter Sedgwick, began the Serge revival by translating some of his work during the 1960s, and is preparing a biography of his own – locates Serge’s literary Damascus in two experiences of death, one political, the other physical, that led to something ...

Women and the Novel

Marilyn Butler, 7 June 1984

Stanley and the Women 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 09 156240 6
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... family, as established by the Collings type of researcher in real life. In Psychopolitics, Peter Sedgwick gave a comically exaggerated résumé of the alleged pattern, in order to convey some scepticism about it. Sedgwick’s might be taken as the informed and articulated version of Stanley’s derisory ...

Dancing Senator

Pat Rogers, 7 November 1985

Memoirs of King George II: Vols I, II and III 
by Horace Walpole, edited by John Brooke.
Yale, 248 pp., £65, June 1985, 0 300 03197 1
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... the grave on how the work should be published. In a forthcoming essay on Walpole as an historian, Peter Sabor comments on the way that ‘the preposterously Gothic arrangements by which Walpole preserved his history unread until generations after his death played into the hands of expurgators, conflators, and hostile commentators.’ Yet the passages now ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... near enough to tell us what we need to know about Antonia or Jim or the professor, Godfrey St Peter, but not so near as to infringe on their privacy or essential dignity. She observes her characters respectfully, as if across the width of a farmhouse supper table, or from a distance equivalent to that between one furrow and the next in a neatly ploughed ...

The Kentish Hog

Adrian Desmond, 15 October 1987

The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Vol. II: 1837-1843 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith.
Cambridge, 603 pp., £30, March 1987, 0 521 25588 0
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The Works of Charles Darwin 
edited by Paul Barrett and R.B. Freeman.
Pickering & Chatto, 10 pp., £470, March 1987, 1 85196 002 3
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The Darwinian Heritage 
edited by David Kohn.
Princeton, 1138 pp., £67.90, February 1986, 0 691 08356 8
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Western Science in the Arab World: The Impact of Darwinism, 1860-1930 
by Adel Ziadat.
Macmillan, 162 pp., £27.50, October 1986, 0 333 41856 5
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Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate 1844-1944 
by Peter Bowler.
Blackwell, 318 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 631 15264 4
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Controversy in Victorian Geology: The Cambrian-Silurian Dispute 
by James Secord.
Princeton, 363 pp., £33.10, October 1986, 0 691 08417 3
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Darwin’s Metaphor: Nature’s Place in Victorian Culture 
by Robert Young.
Cambridge, 341 pp., £30, October 1985, 0 521 31742 8
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... towards Darwinism and the science’s wider nationalistic uses. Uses have never been central to Peter Bowler’s work: indeed, in the past he has had a bone to pick with Edinburgh sociologists who promoted an instrumental approach to science. Nonetheless in his sturdy account of Theories of Human Evolution he, too, looks at the wider cultural and racial ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... the reader is the one who makes the difference. In her Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes: ‘it was only close to the end of the 19th century that a cross-class homosexual role and a consistent, ideologically full thematic discourse of male homosexuality became entirely visible, in developments that were publicly dramatised in ...

Is there another place from which the dickhead’s self can speak?

Marina Warner: The body and law, 1 October 1998

Bodies of Law 
by Alan Hyde.
Princeton, 290 pp., £39.50, July 1997, 0 691 01229 6
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... only has being in language. He draws richly from such literary critics as Roland Barthes and Peter Brooks, but he is a member of that rare emerging species, the male feminist, and above all, he invokes Monique Wittig and Julia Kristeva, and heats the whole by the halogen sparkle of the superanovae of the American cultural empyrean – Judith Butler, Eve ...


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 ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... as a queer icon. And yes, Acker had a lot of sex with both men and women, but as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick explained in Tendencies (1993), that’s far from all that queerness is about. More expansively, it names what Sedgwick called ‘the open mesh of possibilities … when the constituent elements of anyone’s ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... make headway with Mailer’s novel about Hitler, so I watched Factory Girl, the movie about Edie Sedgwick, the ultimate 1960s poor little rich girl. The film opens with Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) in a confessional box – always a good start – telling his priest how sad he is that someone else, not him, got to be punched at a party by Norman Mailer. ‘Why ...

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