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Philippe Ariès

16 October 1980
Bastardy and its Comparative History 
edited by Peter Laslett, Karla Oosterveen and Richard Smith.
Arnold, 431 pp., £24, May 1980, 0 7131 6229 5
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... buttressed it. They were thus attached to archaic liberties and at the same time invoked a new freedom to act as they liked – a mixture which will come as no surprise to such historians as Richard Cobb or Eric Hobsbawm. I am very much afraid that my friend Peter Laslett’s hair will stand on end when he finds out what his carefully swaddled infant has become in my uncouth hands. I must ...

The HPtFtU

Christopher Tayler: Francis Spufford

5 October 2016
Golden Hill 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 344 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 22519 4
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... science (Backroom Boys, 2003) and a non-fiction novel that unpacks the story of Soviet economics (Red Plenty, 2010). He has also published Unapologetic (2012), an Anglican riposte to the likes of Richard Dawkins that’s subtitled ‘Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense.’ Backroom Boys is billed as a ‘love letter to quiet men in pullovers’, and ...

Political Purposes

Frances Spalding: Art in postwar Britain

15 April 1999
New Art New World: British Art in Postwar Society 
by Margaret Garlake.
Yale, 279 pp., £35, July 1998, 0 300 07292 9
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Cultural Offensive: America’s Impact on British Art since 1945 
by John Walker.
Pluto, 304 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 7453 1321 3
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... work of art, as Garlake sees it, had to be what she describes as ‘truthful, analytic and specific’. In the same year that the Kitchen Sink artists were honoured in Venice, one of them – Jack Smith – won first prize at the John Moores exhibition in Liverpool, with his Creation and Crucifixion. Thanks to these successes, 1956 could be said to have marked the apotheosis of realism; it was also ...

Prophet of the Rocks

Richard​ Fortey: William Smith

9 August 2001
The Map that Changed the World: The Tale of William Smith​ and the Birth of a Science 
by Simon Winchester.
Viking, 338 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 88407 3
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... into a system. Before the end of the 18th century there was no method by which to classify geological strata in sequence. Once again, a map provided the key; it was published by the surveyor William Smith in August 1815 and it provided the framework for the geological time-scale that is still in use today. In turn, this supplied the millions of years required for the operation of organic evolution. A ...

Menswear

Philip Booth

20 July 1995
Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts 
by Roger Baker.
Cassell, 284 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 304 32836 7
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... not only for a radical revision of his earlier work, but also for an extension into new areas. He died before he could finish the book, but the revision was more or less complete. Peter Burton and RichardSmith have added chapters on film, the gay scene and rock music, for which Baker had left notes. The result is not just about drag, nor yet about female impersonation, and doesn’t even confine ...

The Excommunicant

Richard​ Popkin: Spinoza v. the Synagogue

15 October 1998
The God of Spinoza: A Philosophical Study 
by Richard​ Mason.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £35, May 1997, 0 521 58162 1
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Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity 
by Steven Smith.
Yale, 270 pp., £21, June 1997, 0 300 06680 5
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... philosophical being. He then worked out a stoic-like ethical system in which the highest good for man is to see the world from the aspect of eternity, and to achieve the intellectual love of God. As Richard Mason reminds us, Spinoza’s neglect of epistemology made him of little interest to those who insisted that the problem of knowledge as set out by Descartes defined what philosophy was properly ...

At the Guggenheim

Hal Foster: David Smith

9 March 2006
... David Smith is often seen as the Jackson Pollock of modern sculpture, the artist who transformed European innovations (in welded steel above all) into an American idiom of expanded scale and expressive power ...

Let’s eat badly

William Davies: Irrationality and its Other

25 November 2019
Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason 
by Justin E.H. Smith.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, April, 978 0 691 17867 7
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... as distinct from what economists or moral philosophers think should determine them. Marketers aren’t the only ones hungry for these insights. The popularisation of behavioural economics was led by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge (2008), which inspired the setting-up of ‘behavioural insights’ teams in governments around the world (with Cameron’s coalition government at the ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe

23 May 1996
The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... In 1950 a venerable, once highly successful, long-ailing magazine quietly expired. Richard Usborne, the assistant editor in its dying days, later recalled an aficionado’s touching reaction. ‘When the Strand finally folded in 1950, my old sixth-form master wrote to me regretfully: “I ...
4 May 2016
M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... The woman​ who cuts my hair – forty-something, old enough to remember punk but a neo-hippy these days – recently mentioned she’d been to see Patti Smith, who was touring her 1975 album, Horses, for its 40th anniversary. ‘Patti, yeah! Went to see her at the Roundhouse. Paid £30, which I didn’t think was too bad … Didn’t stay that long, though ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being in New York

7 July 1983
... Tony Smith, reviewing J.K. Oates’s Penguin on herpes (LRB, Vol. 5, No 9), sounded, thank God, a cheerful rather than a holy note. Far from being a divine visitation on lechery, herpes is a manageable minor ...

Hammers for Pipes

Richard​ Fortey: The Beginnings of Geology

9 February 2006
Bursting the Limits of Time 
by Martin Rudwick.
Chicago, 840 pp., £31.50, December 2005, 0 226 73111 1
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... first precipitated from a universal ocean. Hutton’s prose was opaque, but his champion John Playfair ensured that the wider world appreciated his message. Not long afterwards, William ‘Strata’ Smith produced the first good geological map, using characteristic fossils as guides to rock formations. After some difficulties in getting the map published, largely because this honest yeoman tangled ...

Willesden Fast-Forward

Daniel Soar: Zadie Smith

21 September 2000
White Teeth 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 462 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9780241139974
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... limitless supply of money. And you need to have enough time. If you buy twenty lottery tickets a week from the age of 18 you will, on average, be 700,000 years old before you win the jackpot, and if Richard Branson succeeds in his bid for the People’s Lottery you’re more likely to be a million. The newsagent in question is on Willesden High Road, where every shop that isn’t a newsagent is a ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment

5 April 2007
The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard​ Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... In March 1776, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson visited Pembroke College, Oxford and called on the master, William Adams. According to Richard Sher, Boswell wrote in his journal how dismayed he had been to see in the master’s library a copy of the quarto edition of David Hume’s Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects of 1758 ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith

9 October 1986
Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard​ Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... This is the first volume of a projected three-volume ‘definitive’ biography of Robert Graves by his nephew, Richard Perceval Graves. It takes over where the author’s father, Robert’s younger brother John Graves, left off. John, who died in 1980, had been described by Robert as a ‘typically good pupil of a ...

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