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No Talk in Bed

Owen Flanagan: Confucius, 2 April 1998

The Analects of Confucius 
translated by Simon Leys.
Norton, 224 pp., £9.95, February 1998, 0 393 31699 8
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The Analects of Confucius 
translated by Chichung Huang.
Oxford, 224 pp., £35, October 1997, 0 19 506157 8
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... Legge. The title is obscure, but it has stuck. Chichung Huang, in his literal translation, makes a strong case that the original title, Lun Yu, is best translated as Ethical Dialogues. Thinking of it in this way, as a book of ethics, presented mostly in the form of sayings that begin ‘The Master says’ or with questions followed by answers from the Master ...

His Spittin’ Image

Colm Tóibín: John Stanislaus Joyce, 22 February 2018

... who will fly to avoid what seeks to ensnare him. As he flies, however, his father always follows. Simon Dedalus appears or is mentioned in seven of the 18 episodes of Ulysses. In some of the other versions we have of him, in Stanislaus’s My Brother’s Keeper and in the biography by Wyse Jackson and Costello, where he is installed at home, he is ...


John Bayley, 4 June 1987

The Faber Book of Diaries 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 498 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 0 571 13806 3
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... centuries for each day of the year. The effect of variety, and of uniformity, achieved by Simon Brett’s use of this method, and by the breadth of his selecttion, is very striking. Equally striking is the illustration of Derrida’s point about ‘the other’. Diarists could indeed be said to be afraid of themselves, and to transform those selves ...

The Leader’s Cheerleaders

Simon Jenkins: Party Funding in Britain, 20 September 2007

The Cost of Democracy: Party Funding in Modern British Politics 
by K.D. Ewing.
Hart, 279 pp., £30, March 2007, 978 1 84113 716 2
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... and defence industries have shown under Labour. The case for limiting very large donations is strong. But the present voluntary union donations to Labour have hardly influenced government employment policy. The most intense external pressure on policy (for instance, in the al-Yamamah contract) has come from MPs defending their constituents’ jobs. But is ...


Christopher Ricks, 2 August 1984

The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... of parodies. This is not it. The superiority of Dwight Macdonald’s old enduring anthology to Simon Brett’s new ephemeral one begins in Macdonald’s not being a sloven. When Pope was imitating Chaucer, he did not write, ‘This sely Clerk full doth lout,’ but ‘full low doth lout’, a line which has rhythm and sense. Lewis Carroll, bent upon ...


John Bossy: Simon Forman, 22 February 2001

The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: Works and Days of Simon Forman 
by Barbara Howard Traister.
Chicago, 260 pp., £19, February 2001, 0 226 81140 9
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Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician 
by Judith Cook.
Chatto, 228 pp., £18.99, January 2001, 0 7011 6899 4
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... private-enterprise medical practitioner, counsellor, sexual athlete and compulsive writer Simon Forman. Forman’s voluminous papers, case-notes, diaries and all sorts of other writings had been in the Bodleian Library since Elias Ashmole presented them in the late 17th century. They contained a vast amount of anecdote about all sorts of ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning, 9 February 2006

Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... killed in an uprising encouraged by the Germans. Both novels anticipate the trilogies in taking a strong line against colonialism. In the Levant Trilogy, written in the late 1970s, Manning’s views are sometimes too explicit. When Harriet asks Simon what Britain has done for Egypt, he answers dutifully: ‘We’ve brought ...

Lancastrian Spin

Simon Walker: Usurpation, 10 June 1999

England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399-1422 
by Paul Strohm.
Yale, 274 pp., £25, August 1998, 0 300 07544 8
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... all Henry’s declared opponents in a single implausible conspiracy, probably reflects a strong sense of what their interrogators wanted to hear. To conclude from this that both incidents were ‘either invented or, if not invented, at least so extensively managed as to constitute a virtual invention’ is to overbid a ...


Ian Buruma, 13 May 1993

Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... country in the world, Britain is changing, but in few developed countries do people have such a strong feeling that every change is for the worse. Britain is plagued by a mood of cultural pessimism that brings to mind France of the 1870s. Every event – a nasty murder in Liverpool, the death of Bobby Moore, a Royal tryst – is sucked into a nightmare ...
Stafford Cripps: A Political Life 
by Simon Burgess.
Gollancz, 374 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 575 06565 6
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... Cripps provide a nice study in contrasts. On the right, the leader of the Conservative Party, with strong nationalist and imperialist instincts: a fat man who notoriously enjoyed his cigars, his champagne (other people’s, too) and his brandy; and who made it the central aim of his postwar policy to give the British people more red meat. On the left, a ...

Pretty Good Privacy

Brian Rotman, 1 June 2000

The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography 
by Simon Singh.
Fourth Estate, 402 pp., £16.99, September 1999, 1 85702 879 1
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In Code: A Mathematical Journey 
by Sarah Flannery.
Profile, 292 pp., £14.99, April 2000, 1 86197 222 9
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Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption 
by Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau.
MIT, 346 pp., £10.50, April 1999, 0 262 54100 9
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... with Hardy’s beloved prime numbers playing a leading role. How this came about is the subject of Simon Singh’s The Code Book, a very readable and skilfully told history of cryptography. Singh’s method is to attach the abstract ideas involved to someone who thought of them, failed to think of them, championed them, or suffered their consequences – this ...

The Argument from Design

John Barrell, 24 August 1995

Landscape and Memory 
by Simon Schama.
HarperCollins, 624 pp., £25, April 1995, 0 00 215897 3
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... The five videotapes of Simon Schama’s BBC 2 series Landscape and Memory must have been sent to me in a wrapping all too suspiciously plain. They never arrived, nicked, we presume, by a postal worker with a thing for blue movies. I like to think he wasn’t too disappointed. There was a lot more drapery than he could have wished or expected: in each of the programmes I remembered to record myself, the entire studio had been wrapped in muslin or bunting, by a designer whose notions of landscape art were mainly derived from Christo’s ...

Larkin and Us

Barbara Everett, 4 November 1982

Larkin at Sixty 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 148 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 9780571118786
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The Art of Philip Larkin 
by Simon Petch.
Sydney University Press, 108 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 424 00090 3
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... Dunn, good as they are, can’t help not coming up to. The second or critical section is extremely strong: John Gross on the Oxford Book, George Hartley on the early publishing, Clive James on the jazz criticism as well as the poems, Alan Brownjohn on the novels, Christopher Ricks on Larkin’s poetic style and structure, Seamus Heaney on his idealism, and ...

Fortunes of War

Graham Hough, 6 November 1980

The Sum of Things 
by Olivia Manning.
Weidenfeld, 203 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 297 77816 1
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The Viceroy of Ouidah 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 155 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01820 5
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The Sooting Party 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 241 10473 4
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An Ancient Castle 
by Robert Graves.
Owen, 69 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 7206 0567 9
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... ever to say why. As before, the characters are utterly distinct, yet without any emphatic lines or strong colours. They have forgotten what it is like to be even partly in control of their own lives, for the huge network of wartime circumstance has taken charge of them. The scene is still the Near East, the world still that of British Council lecturers, minor ...

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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... and phallic cakes. Some care was taken to distinguish different kinds of penis in art, and a strong contrast seems always to have been drawn between the gross members of satyrs and comic actors in Dionysus’ entourage and the very modest manhood of heroic and civic ideal. Sometimes the phallus seems even to have a life of its own. It appears as a ...

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