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The Twin Sister’s Twin Sister

Adam Mars-Jones: Dag Solstad, 9 May 2019

Armand V.: Footnotes to an Unexcavated Novel 
by Dag Solstad, translated by Steven Murray.
Vintage, 256 pp., £11.99, May 2018, 978 1 78470 846 7
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T. Singer 
by Dag Solstad, translated by Tiina Nunnally.
Vintage, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78470 306 6
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... A bid​ of ‘Misère’ in a game of solo whist means that the player undertakes to lose every trick – it’s a sort of grand slam in reverse. Dag Solstad’s contract with the reader, on the basis of these two books, is similar: he undertakes not to make the best of his materials, producing an apparently methodical collapsing of novelistic machinery ...

The Darwin Show

Steven Shapin, 7 January 2010

... several others on sunspots; Leibniz and Newton on the calculus; Priestley and Scheele on oxygen; Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam on electroweak gauge theory; and, of course, Darwin and the undercelebrated Alfred Russel Wallace on evolution by natural selection. Every instance of what has been called ‘simultaneous discovery’ lends credence to the notion ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Sokal 2.0, 25 October 2018

... friends you shall know them. Among those most delighted by this episode have been Niall Ferguson, Steven Pinker, David Deutsch and Douglas Murray: weirdly few non-white non-men. I recommend that, on their next visit to Portland, these people spend some time in a dog park or ...

Toshie Trashed

Gavin Stamp: The Glasgow School of Art Fire, 19 June 2014

... we have to deal both with the commercialisation of his legacy – the ‘Mockin’tosh’, as Murray Grigor termed it, that fills the shops – and the tendency to see him as a lone figure instead of a man who, like all great artists, did not just borrow but stole, from others and from the past. I used to wonder what all those visitors in the grip of the ...

Uncle of the Bomb

Steven Shapin: The Oppenheimer Brothers, 23 September 2010

Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and The World He Made Up 
by K.C. Cole.
Houghton Mifflin, 439 pp., $27, August 2009, 978 0 15 100822 3
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... didn’t have Sitzfleisch,’ the patience to see something all the way through, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann remarked. Robert now cautioned against the idea – increasingly influential in Cold War America – that scientific knowledge and scientific method could be exported to solve any number of social problems: ‘Science is not all of the life of ...

Prodigious Powers

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 21 January 1982

The Greeks and their Heritages 
by Arnold Toynbee.
Oxford, 334 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 19 215256 4
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... or prose into elegant Greek or Latin. Toynbee was not as good at this as his father-in-law Gilbert Murray or his own contemporary Ronald Knox: but he was good enough to win a Balliol scholarship, which he followed up with First Classes in both Mods and Greats and a Balliol Fellowship in Ancient History. Saved by an opportune attack of dysentery from the ...

People Like You

David Edgar: In Burnley, 23 September 2021

On Burnley Road: Class, Race and Politics in a Northern English Town 
by Mike Makin-Waite.
Lawrence and Wishart, 274 pp., £17, May, 978 1 913546 02 1
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... opportunity. The co-founder of the local branch, a former Conservative council candidate called Steven Smith, ran his accountancy business from what he called Burnley Heritage Centre, from where he also sold sepia photographs of Victorian Burnley and artefacts of its industrial past. When I visited the town to research Playing with Fire, a play about the ...


Anna Vaux: Motherhood, 21 May 1998

Bad Mothers: The Politics of Blame in 20th-Century America 
edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky.
New York, 416 pp., £16, April 1998, 0 8147 5119 9
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Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood 
by Melissa Benn.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 0 224 03821 4
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... thousand people – mostly women – had been legally sterilised in the United States. Yet as Steven Noll points out in his essay on ‘The Sterilisation of Willie Mallory’ (a woman), ‘the use of sterilisation in the fight against feeble-mindedness centred on lower-class women of questionable moral standards,’ and (in Mallory’s case at ...

Little Englander Histories

Linda Colley: Little Englandism, 22 July 2010

A Mad, Bad & Dangerous People? England 1783-1846 
by Boyd Hilton.
Oxford, 757 pp., £21, June 2008, 978 0 19 921891 2
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Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1780-1939 
by James Belich.
Oxford, 573 pp., £25, June 2009, 978 0 19 929727 6
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... founded in 1802 by a group of Scottish Whigs, together with the Quarterly Review published by John Murray, a firm established by a Scot, are described as setting the tone of ‘early 19th-century politics’. So how exactly does all this make up a history of England? Hilton brushes the question aside: ‘All that was admirable about Scotland was subsumed into ...

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