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Anthropology as it should be

Robin Fox: Colin Turnbull

9 August 2001
In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin Turnbull 
by Roy Richard Grinker.
St Martin’s, 354 pp., £19.75, August 2000, 0 312 22946 1
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... According to the hype for this excellent biography of Colin Turnbull, he was one of the ‘most well-known anthropologists’ of the 20th century, along with Margaret Mead and Louis Leakey. For many of the more austere members of the profession, to say that these three are ‘well-known anthropologists’ is a bit like saying that Vanna White is a well-known lexicographer. To be fair, each of them ...
19 February 1981
The Red Lamp of Incest: A Study in the Origins of Mind and Society 
by Robin Fox.
Hutchinson, 271 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 09 144080 7
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Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and its Devastation 
by Susan Forward and Craig Buck.
Penguin, 154 pp., £1.95, February 1981, 0 14 022287 1
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... have much in common, but the theme has a perennial fascination and they will doubtless both sell well. I am personally more attracted by Susan Forward’s modestly presented case-histories than by RobinFox’s pretentious fantasies, but there is more meat for discussion in the latter’s argument, so let us start there. Once, long ago, RobinFox was trained as a British social anthropologist. He ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin​ Hood

22 July 2004
Robin​ Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... In the 1964 film Robin and the Seven Hoods, when someone compares ‘Robbo’ (Frank Sinatra) to Robin Hood, one of the gangsters asks: ‘Who’s Robin Hood?’ And another replies: ‘Well, he was a hood, some Englishman who lived long ago and had an operation going for him in the forest. And I guess the "robin” means he stole birds.’ Robin is ...

Over-Achievers

C.H. Roberts

5 February 1987
Pagans and Christians 
by Robin​ Lane Fox.
Viking, 799 pp., £17.95, October 1986, 0 670 80848 2
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... We are a third race,’ claimed Tertullian. Were the early Christians really so different and, if they were, how and why? This is the principal question Robin Lane Fox sets out to answer in this compelling and readable book, which is also a major work of historical scholarship. It is a study of differing and competing religions in the second and third centuries AD ...

Where’s the Gravy?

Barbara Graziosi: Homeric Travel

27 August 2009
Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer 
by Robin​ Lane Fox.
Penguin, 528 pp., £10.99, September 2009, 978 0 14 024499 1
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... to investigate the historical background: written sources (the Homeric poems themselves, as well as those by his near contemporary Hesiod) and the archaeology of early Greece. In Travelling Heroes Robin Lane Fox tries to bring together texts and objects to shed light on the real-life travellers who, he believes, shaped the worldview represented in early Greek epic. He starts with Hera’s flight and ...
4 June 1981
The Search for Alexander 
by Robin​ Lane Fox.
Allen Lane, 439 pp., £12.95, February 1981, 0 7139 1395 9
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Alexander the Great 
by N.G.L. Hammond.
Chatto, 358 pp., £14.95, April 1981, 0 7011 2565 9
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... however, two jurors who have considered their verdict. It is rare, if not unique, for two Alexander biographies to appear in the same season, both by authors who have personally surveyed his route. Robin Lane Fox has covered the whole itinerary, in this surpassing the redoubtable Sir Aurel Stein, who had to wait till he was in his eighties for permission to enter Afghanistan, and, setting out ...

Being Greek

Henry Day: Up Country with Xenophon

2 November 2006
The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand 
by Robin​ Lane Fox.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 10403 0
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The Expedition of Cyrus 
by Xenophon, translated by Robin​ Waterfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 19 282430 9
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Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia and the End of the Golden Age 
by Robin​ Waterfield.
Faber, 248 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 571 22383 4
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The Sea! The Sea! The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination 
by Tim Rood.
Duckworth, 272 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7156 3571 9
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... prose. It’s not surprising that he was known in antiquity as ‘the Attic bee’, while Hazlitt praised the ‘clearness of style and modesty of temper’ he found in the Anabasis, a judgment that Robin Waterfield’s new translation doesn’t traduce. Xenophon’s relatively simple sentences, preference for the vivid present tense, and use of third-person narration inevitably invite comparison with ...

Why Calcutta?

Amit Chaudhuri

4 January 1996
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 98 pp., £7.95, October 1995, 9781859840542
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... part of the chapter entitled ‘Good Works and Heroic Virtues’, does something to support this contention. Among the testimony of others (former nuns, social workers), we are given an account by RobinFox, editor of the Lancet, written after a visit to Mother Teresa’s ‘operation’ in Calcutta. Dr Fox, although favourably disposed towards Mother Teresa’s work, found that medical facilities ...

Two Poems

Robin​ Robertson

15 December 2005
... its flayed accoutrements, this paraphernalia of clues; but you will never find me. Shall I tell you? Shall I tell you the secret? My whole life. Answers when mussels bud from every tree when the fox lies down with the goose when the sun and moon dance on the green and oranges fruit in the bramble bush when all streams run together when all the streams stand still when the cuckoo calls in winter ...

Who was in Tomb II?

James Romm: Macedon

6 October 2011
Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy 
by Angeliki Kottaridi et al.
Ashmolean, 264 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 1 85444 254 3
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A Companion to Ancient Macedonia 
edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington.
Wiley-Blackwell, 668 pp., £110, November 2010, 978 1 4051 7936 2
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Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD 
edited by Robin​ Lane Fox.
Brill, 642 pp., €184, June 2011, 978 90 04 20650 2
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... the anthropologist Loring Danforth of ‘the Macedonian question’ in modern Balkan politics). Several of them also wrote for the Ashmolean catalogue, as did the editor of the Brill’s Companion, Robin Lane Fox. Lane Fox opens the volume with a thorough and highly combative defence of the attribution of Tomb II to Philip II. Combativeness is perhaps a natural trait in a historian who has given much ...

Shorn and Slathered

Christine Smallwood: ‘Reynard the Fox

5 November 2015
Reynard the FoxA New Translation 
by James Simpson.
Liveright, 256 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 87140 736 8
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... The word​ for ‘fox’ in medieval France was goupil – until a set of allegorical tales about a fox called Reynard became so popular that renard started to be used instead. The characterisation of foxes as wily had already been established by Aesop, but Reynard himself first appeared in the tenth ...

Beside Loch Iffrin

Robin​ Robertson

22 October 2014
... solid in her bath, forehead scored with the cross. I saw Macaulay’s mare with the bleed on the brain going round her field faster and faster till she bolted straight into the stable wall. I saw a fox with a firebrand tied to its tail going over the high cliff, bundled in flames. And off to the west, a funeral procession on the side of a hill where no road lay. Three months under winter; until ...

Inside Tobar na Marbh

Robin​ Robertson

25 November 2019
... very changing.My sklent eye took in everything –the fear, the wonder of this world:the haughland; the simmer dim; that broken birdlike a furtive Christ, moving, in the half-light, tree to tree;the fox on the beach, the deer at gaze, the bite of fireat the gorse-field; the way men passed the deadthrough a hole they’d made in the wall, then closed it fastagainst the soul returning. Snow-wreathsin ...

Diary

Mary Beard: Set in Tunisia

14 December 2006
... broadcast. I can think of almost no big historical movie over the last twenty years which has not boasted that its details have been rigorously checked by scholars of the most impeccable credentials. Robin Lane Fox famously advised on the Macedonian phalanx for Alexander, in exchange – it has been reported – for a bit-part in the cavalry charge. Even the ghastly Troy (which was about a mythical war ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Servant’

9 May 2013
The Servant 
directed by Joseph Losey.
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... the owner and the fiancée want to make out they have to lie on the floor on a mixture of coats and newspapers. It seems empty when Bogarde gets there, but he finds the owner, Tony, played by James Fox, asleep in the kitchen after a few beers too many at lunch. What Bogarde wants is a job, and he gets one. But the house becomes part of his wanting on first sight. And it’s tempting to think the ...

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