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Weimarama

Richard J. Evans, 8 November 1990

Male Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 517 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 7456 0382 3
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Male Fantasies Vol. II: Male Bodies: Psychoanalysing the White Terror 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 507 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0556 7
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... Since its appearance in Germany in 1977, Klaus Theweleit’s psychoanalytical study of fascist literature has graduated from the status of a cult work to that of a classic. Rereading it in English, a decade after my first, rather sceptical perusal, it is easy to see why. Much of what made Theweleit’s book so startlingly original in the mid-Seventies has since become relatively conventional in literary and historical studies, from the Foucaultian analysis of literary discourse, and the exploration of the political history of the human body, to a feminist perspective on sex and power ...

Shock Lobsters

Richard Fortey: The Burgess Shale, 1 October 1998

The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals 
by Simon Conway Morris.
Oxford, 242 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 19 850256 7
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... Shale, and the insight its fossils provided into the early history of life, was made famous by Stephen Jay Gould in Wonderful Life (1989). Not that Gould himself first described any of these vanished animals: rather, he promulgated their importance to a world outside the hermetic palaeontological community – the Burgess Shale and its mysterious, extinct ...

Coloured Spots v. Iridescence

Steven Rose: Evolutionary Inevitability, 22 March 2018

Improbable Destinies: How Predictable Is Evolution? 
by Jonathan Losos.
Allen Lane, 364 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 241 20192 3
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... The issue​ of evolutionary inevitability was brought sharply into focus by the late Stephen Jay Gould in his book Wonderful Life (1989). Gould discussed the bizarre fossils uncovered by the Cambridge palaeontologist Simon Conway Morris in an outcrop of rock in the Canadian Rockies, known as the Burgess Shale ...

How to Make a Mermaid

Adrian Woolfson: A theology of evolution, 5 February 2004

Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe 
by Simon Conway Morris.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £18.95, September 2003, 0 521 82704 3
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... to us, or would it be reassuringly familiar? One way of settling the issue, suggested by the late Stephen Jay Gould, would be to wind the tape of life back to its origins, around four and a half billion years ago, then let the tape run again and see what happens. Ideally, we’d repeat this a few thousand times, and if then all of the reruns ended up ...

Histories of Australia

Stuart Macintyre, 28 September 1989

The Oxford History of Autralia. Vol III: 1860-1900 
by Beverley Kingston.
Oxford, 368 pp., £22.50, July 1989, 0 19 554611 3
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The Road from Coorain: An Australian Memoir 
by Jill Ker Conway.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 434 14244 1
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A Secret Country 
by John Pilger.
Cape, 286 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 224 02600 3
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Convict Workers: Reinterpreting Australia’s Past 
edited by Stephen Nicholas.
Cambridge, 246 pp., $45, June 1989, 0 521 36126 5
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... as they recall the place of their youth. Two recent books provide instructive examples. Jill Ker Conway left Australia in the early Sixties to undertake postgraduate study at Harvard and thereafter pursued with distinction an academic career in North America – Vice-President of the University of Toronto, President of Smith College. Her childhood ...

Dreadful Beasts

Mark Ridley, 28 June 1990

Wonderful Life 
by Stephen Jay Gould.
Hutchinson Radius, 347 pp., £14.95, February 1990, 0 09 174271 4
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... and with two rows of bent knife blades bristling along its back. ‘About 5 mm from the front end, Conway Morris found two arc-shaped bars, each carrying a row of simple, conical teeth directed toward the rear. The front bar bears a notch at the centre, marking a toothless area between the two side regions, each with seven or eight teeth.’ Wiwaxia would not ...

His Spittin’ Image

Colm Tóibín: John Stanislaus Joyce, 22 February 2018

... A father​ is a necessary evil,’ Stephen Dedalus says in Ulysses. In Yeats: The Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann quoted Ivan Karamazov: ‘Who doesn’t desire his father’s death?’ ‘From the Urals to Donegal,’ Ellmann writes, the theme recurs, in Turgenev, in Samuel Butler, in Gosse. It is especially prominent in Ireland ...

Genetic Mountaineering

Adrian Woolfson: The evolution of evolvability, 6 February 2003

A New Kind of Science 
by Stephen Wolfram.
Wolfram Media, 1197 pp., £40, May 2002, 1 57955 008 8
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... were easily built on to accommodate genes and mutations, recent work has been more challenging. Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, for example, used the spandrels of St Mark’s in Venice, which exist as a necessary by-product of the process of mounting a dome on rounded arches, as a way of illustrating the anti-adaptationist idea that certain features ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp, 10 August 2016

... was the alternative? The next evening​ I arrived in what was possibly an even stuffier room, Conway Hall in Central London, for an Emergency Rally to support Corbyn’s campaign. Outside there was the inevitable Morning Star stall, and Momentum posters that read ‘#KeepCorbyn. We are the Labour Party. And we’re here to stay.’ (There was no sign of ...

‘I’m not racist, but …’

Daniel Trilling, 18 April 2019

Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities 
by Eric Kaufman.
Allen Lane, 617 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 31710 5
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National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy 
by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin.
Pelican, 384 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 0 241 31200 1
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... at Grunwick in the 1970s, for instance, or the mass campaign to get justice for the family of Stephen Lawrence in the 1990s. It’s easy to single out the excesses of campus politics and go on to depict anti-racism as an elite project – or its opposite, a form of mob rule. It would be harder to do the same with, say, the campaign to ensure that the ...

Peter Wright, Judges and Journalists

R.W. Johnson, 3 September 1987

... this, the chief concern of the judges is to try to see things the Government way. Lord Reid, in Conway v. Rimmer (1968), best summarised the attitude of the Law Lords. The premature disclosure of Cabinet Minutes was, he said, in no way allowable, for ‘disclosure would create or fan ill-informed or captious public or political criticism. The business of ...

Making It Up

Raphael Samuel, 4 July 1996

Raymond Williams 
by Fred Inglis.
Routledge, 333 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 415 08960 3
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... of stage, on which Inglis’s gods and heroes disport themselves. Thus at the memorial meeting in Conway Hall there is Nick Garnham, ‘elegant, intelligent, disdainful Wykehamist’. Earlier, at the Garden House Hotel riot – a Cambridge protest against the rule of the Greek colonels – there is Bob Rowthorn, ‘then as now the best-looking economist in a ...

A Man with My Trouble

Colm Tóibín: Henry James leaves home, 3 January 2008

The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume I 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 391 pp., £57, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2584 8
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The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume II 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 524 pp., £60, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2607 4
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... were written to members of the Norton family.) With the Nortons in London, James saw Leslie Stephen, whom James’s father had also known, and met Charles Dickens’s daughter, who was, he reported to Alice, ‘plain-faced, ladylike (in black silk & black lace)’, and visited William Morris and his family. Mrs Morris was ‘a figure cut out of a missal ...

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