Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.


Vol. 5 No. 14 · 4 August 1983

Search by issue:

Cambridge English

SIR: Although I have hacked my way through the thickets of Raymond Williams’s prose (LRB, 7 July) I am far from sure that I have hit the trail. I thought one was meant to conclude that English studies would benefit if the study of literature as art was abandoned and the Tripos turned into a study of theories about literature and language, so that undergraduates will knit their brows no longer over Sejanus or Ulysses but over Lacan and Foucault. But, however that may be, I think Professor Williams was arguing that the English Tripos took the shape it did because it was designed for an ‘exclusive’ minority: i.e. the boys and girls from independent schools, the girls being specially exclusive because they were a despised academic status group. Since the English upper classes were grounded in Classics, the Tragedy paper began with Aeschylus and the English Moralists paper with Plato and Aristotle. The ‘provincial’ languages of Anglo-Saxon and Welsh were relegated, if taught at all, to options and undergraduates were encouraged to brush up their French and Italian. Thus the seed of all future conflicts in the Faculty was sown, because the Tripos was tuned to the culture of a minority class – the ruling class.

This is a social theory masquerading as fact. The reason why the founding fathers of the Tripos believed some knowledge of these languages and cultures was desirable was quite different. English literature from Chaucer to the 19th century was permeated by Classical culture and imitated French and Italian models. It was the nature of English literature, not the social class of those who were to study it, which dictated the content of the Tripos. I don’t know what the curriculum was at Professor Williams’s Welsh school, but the notion that English grammar schools between the wars were not proficient in the Classics or in French is laughable.

The founding fathers were sceptical of evaluation. They considered Arnold’s judgments on individual works of art a job lot. The Tripos should teach by close reading what a poem was about, what did or did not make it valuable in itself or in relation to other work by the same poet: not so much in relation to all poetry written anywhere at any time. Many of them thought sweeping evaluation pandered to the natural priggishness of the young and encouraged them to sneer at authors whom they thought unfashionable or dismissed patronisingly as immature. Premature evaluation was as distressing a complaint in the young as premature ejaculation. Some of the Faculty explored what were the most profitable ways of discussing literature: through words as Manny Forbes and George Rylands did, or through categories such as Tillyard’s poetry direct and oblique. With great honesty I.A. Richards abandoned his search for a method of establishing value through appetencies and concluded: ‘Convictions as to the value, and kinds of value, of kinds of poetry might safely, and with advantage, decay, provided that there remained a firm sense of the importance of the critical act of choice, its difficulty, and the supreme exercise of all our faculties that it imposes.’

Professor Williams is quite wrong to conclude that without Richards and Leavis Cambridge English would hardly have differed from English departments in other universities: the Tripos was unique in the period between the two wars. Only at Cambridge could one find before the war teaching of the kind given by Henn or Willey. Only Cambridge would have encouraged the original work of an undergraduate such as Empson.

It is, I think, true, as I argued in a lecture delivered in Harvard in 1964, that part of Leavis’s success was his appeal to the condition of undergraduates from the grammar schools. He told them that only a limited number of poets and novelists were worth serious study, and therefore that they need not fear the vast range of authors and topics offered in the Tripos. And of course Professor Williams is right to praise Leavis’s seriousness and commitment. But he is not right to say that his opponents hated that seriousness because it disturbed them. Even a sceptic such as F.L. Lucas welcomed Ivor Richards’s seriousness, and the inference that lecturers such as Joan Bennett lacked intense seriousness is absurd.

I was not surprised to see Professor Williams take the familiar line. But I must say I gasped when he said that perhaps, after all, the Faculty were ‘by accident’ (my italics) right in refusing to accept Leavis’s conclusion that ‘to learn to read literary works by close analysis involved you in an assault on a whole system of social and cultural and academic values.’ By accident! The Faculty understood only too well the implications of Leavis’s theory of culture and consciously rejected it. Professor Williams’s misunderstanding may well be the fault of the Faculty in those days. On this issue none of them published a rejoinder at length: partly from distaste for Leavis’s methods of controversy and partly because they wanted to make their own contribution to the study of literature and thought arguments about theory time-consuming. In so doing they gave hostages to fortune: but were they as tame as Professor Williams suggests?

Noël Annan
London NW8

A Technical Philosopher

SIR: John McDowell’s (Letters, 7 July) and Julia Jack’s (Letters, 21 July) comments on my review of Varieties of Reference by Gareth Evans raise important issues. Before speaking to these, let me first say something about McDowell’s more lively accusations. I am accused of ‘not understanding’ the ‘point’ of Evans’s theoretical construction and of ‘withholding approval’ from its ‘theoretical context’. At the same time, ‘Putnam himself offers a roughly adequate exposition of one of [the book’s] main lines of thought, and so undermines his own sugestion that its drift is inaccessible to a general audience.’ Well, if I have given a roughly adequate exposition of one of Evans’s main lines of thought, then I am quite content to let the readers of my review decide for themselves whether that line of thought should be taken seriously. Secondly, McDowell’s charge of an ignoratio elenchi in my review is based on the fact that I employed a past-tense sentence containing what Evans calls a ‘memory demonstrative’ (‘That eagle flew by terrifically fast’) as an example, rather than the corresponding present-tense sentence. But the point would have been exactly the same: the speaker, even if he says, ‘That eagle is flying by terrifically fast,’ as the eagle is flying by (and thus employs a ‘perceptual demonstrative’), need not have acquired the capacity to locate the eagle in objective space (the speaker may be lost). McDowell might reply that at least a weaker condition is fulfilled: I can locate the eagle in relation to my body (locate it in ‘egocentric space’, in Evans’s terminology). But Evans was interested in this capacity as it feeds into the capacity to locate the object in objective space; moreover, if I didn’t notice which way my head was turned, then isn’t it a rather desperate expedient to say I had even the more limited capacity for just an instant and lost it a second later? We could as well say that I thought a perfectly true thought and that Evans is just mistaken in holding that such a thought (containing a perceptual demonstrative or a memory demonstrative) requires the presence (or the existence in the past) of these particular capacities. Similarly, when I say, ‘That oasis is a good place to water my camels,’ and there is no oasis but rather a mirage (another example employed in my review), there is no need to accept Evans’s main piece of ‘theorising on the subject’, as McDowell terms it: i.e. to accept the astonishing claim that in such a case I have failed to think a thought at all. We could as well say I have thought something false, or that the whole question of truth or falsity lapses when we find out the oasis did not exist. We could talk in the way Evans wishes us to talk; to think we fail to grasp ‘theoretic’ truth if we don’t is to be in the grip of a picture. That Evans describes his claims as ‘conceptual truths’ seems very significant in this connection; I simply cannot believe that this ‘has no grand methodological significance in Evans’s work’. (Evans’s only argument for one of his most important claims – the claim that a fully determinate Thought cannot lack a truth value, which is a ‘key’ to establishing his own view, as well as to rejecting Strawson’s theory of descriptions – is that the denial of this principle is ‘incomprehensible’. If this sort of talk shows only that Evans’s work ‘belongs to the analytical tradition’ it is a version of ‘the analytical tradition’ that is remarkably uninformed by Quine or Wittgenstein.)

Furthermore, I must reject McDowell’s account of the history of Russell’s thinking. I dislike talk of ‘the Cartesian tradition’, but if McDowell is thinking of Russell’s break with idealism, as I take it he is, then it is just not the case that Russell was ‘led to his conception of singular “propositions" by his distaste for the way in which the Cartesian tradition typically disconnects the mind from the world; although the tradition reasserted itself in his inability to link the mind, in the direct way he wanted, with anything further out into the world … than sense-data’. The Russellian notion of a ‘proposition’ was, in fact, first put forward by G.E. Moore in 1899 (‘The Nature of Judgment’), and taken over bodily by Russell in The Principles of Mathematics (written in 1902, published in 1903). In these works the constituents of propositions are tables, chairs, numbers etc – whatever one can think about. There is no hint of objects of acquaintance or of any problem of reaching out beyond objects of acquaintance before ‘On Denoting’ (1905), and no identification of objects of acquaintance with sense-data before about 1910. (With the rise of Russell’s interest in epistemology there even came doubt – voiced by Russell in 1912 – that there are such things as ‘propositions’.) In the period (prior to 1910 or so) in which Russell talked confidently of propositions and their constituents, his view was that idealist talk of propositions as parts of mental events cut off and fixed by the mind (Bradley) was simply nonsense. Thinking, for both Frege and Russell, involved direct relation to complex extra-mental entities.

Gareth Evans’s ‘thoughts’, on the other hand, are exercises of structured systems of capacities a person has. Whatever the merits or demerits of such a conception, it has no relation whatever to Russell’s notion of a ‘proposition’. There was, thus, no call for Evans to give an account (an incorrect one, in my view) of Russell’s doctrine that propositions can have objects as constituents at all. This does not mean that there is never a point to discussing whether Russell’s views (the ones he actually held) are tenable or not, nor does it mean that ‘if we fall short of accepting [Russell’s] system he can have nothing to say to us’ – the view McDowell ascribes to me. To write that one should not rip philosophers’ statements out of the complex system of ideas which gives them sense, as I did, is not to say anything like this.

The question how language hooks onto the world is, on the other hand, a question in which both Frege and Russell were vitally interested, although not in a ‘Cartesian’ setting. Why does talk of people having ‘object-involving capacities’ not speak to this question?

In one way, of course, it does: but not in the way in which this was a question for analytic philosophy in its formative period. The question was not ‘what statements can we make about words and things?’, but how can there be a ‘singled-out’ relation, a relation of reference, at all? That, from an interpreter’s point of view, there can be a relation between my doings and sayings and some object or other is not at issue. This remark only pushes the question back to the question of how the interpreter’s words can have a ‘singled-out’ relation to certain objects rather than to any others. If our ‘capacities’ were self-identifying, if there were no possibility of asking why my doings should be intrinsically exercises of this capacity rather than that, then the remark that we have capacities which involve particular things would solve the problem of words and the world (in which case it would have been a silly problem to begin with), but essentialism about ‘capacities’ is no more satisfying as a remedy for a serious metaphysical worry than any other kind of essentialism. With this; I think, McDowell agrees. He takes Evans’s project (correctly, I believe) to have been a different project, a ‘Davidsonian’ project of describing the words-world relation assuming whatever notions we find helpful, whether these be question-begging from the point of view of the original philosophical worry or not. (But then why pretend one is speaking to the original issue?)

Such a project, if it ‘paid off’, might contribute to cognitive science: where I differ with John McDowell and Julia Jack is over the chances of success. I feel that the attempt to produce ‘theories’ of ‘how language latches onto the world’ has proved corrupting. But I did not reject Evans’s work because it proceeds from a different standpoint on this highly controversial issue (as McDowell and Jack suggest): rather, the fact that Evans’s attempt to produce such a ‘theory’ is so deeply unconvincing seemed, sadly, to support my negative attitude towards the conception of philosophy as the ‘theory’ of something or other.

Last but not least, I still agree with the words I wrote over ten years ago that François Recanati quotes in his letter. To say that long and technical argument has a place in philosophy is one thing; to think that philosophy can or should have the authority of a science is another. I admit that I think of philosophy as one of the humanities and of its products as works and not theories: this hardly commits me to holding that there is no place for hard argument in philosophy.

Hilary Putnam
Harvard University

Gift of Tongues

SIR: I should like to make a brief response to Tony Burgess’s letter (Letters, 21 July) about my recent review. His own position is apparently pro-diversity and pro-minority, but to the extent to which he implies mine is not, he misleads the reader. A critical stance need not be a hostile one. He says that I reject the argument that ‘it is time to make use of language diversity.’ What I do reject, in fact, is the interventionist approach which ‘make use’ suggests. His example of a young girl competent in Indian languages, Arabic and Swahili indicates a resource to be encouraged at school, but apart from a highly desirable general tolerance, it is not clear that any active educational programme using these languages will benefit either this hypothetical student or the student population at large. (I am not referring, clearly, to language programmes intended to assist foreign speakers to gain competence in English.)

There is simply no evidence that school programmes of the type advocated can, when acting in isolation from other social trends, substantially bolster, maintain or propagate shrinking minority languages. Consider the situation of Asian-language newspapers in Britain. While there are about three dozen such publications, the familiar pattern still exists of minority-group children losing fluency in their mother tongue. Thus the future for these papers is not bright. Can schools reverse this sort of trend? What are the real social dynamics creating this situation? If we paid more attention to these, we would be less likely to engage in wishful thinking about schools sustaining a permanently pluralistic society.

It is entirely possible to agree that linguistic and cultural diversity is a valuable social commodity, while entertaining the gravest doubts about the role of education in propping up declining languages. Furthermore, I believe that it is dangerous for schools to be cast in this role because their chances of success are small and, more importantly, because their predictable failures may have a ripple effect which can harm private aspects of group identity. Of course, Burgess’s hopes that we may all learn from new cultural experiences are unexceptionable, but what do these hopes become in actual school programmes? I suggest that they often translate into exactly that attempted manipulation – well-meaning though it may be – of language and identity which Burgess himself rejects. It is interesting to note that calls for multi-lingual and multi-cultural programmes are usually made at times when minority communities are seen to be in some danger: but if the social forces which inexorably act upon all features of identity are causing erosion of original group boundaries, can educational efforts alone usefully oppose these? Indeed, should they try?

John Edwards
St Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia

Peace for Galilee

SIR: Susanne Kappeler (Letters, 21 July) is involved in an attempt to transform the ‘received discourse’ of the Middle East debate. So was Jacobo Timerman in his book. I believe that Timerman failed, but not for the reasons cited by Ms Kappeler. The ‘Palestinian story’ may need to be fashioned ab initio, but this will not change the fundamental premises upon which any solution to our regional conflict must be based. Neither will the retelling of the tale, if authentic, alter the need for the Arab world in general, and the Palestinian people in particular, through whatever agency they choose, to come to grips at long last with Israel’s right to exist. This was attempted by the martyred Dr Issam Sartawi.

Susanne Kappeler’s apologetics for the lack of a Palestinian Peace Now equivalent are unconvincing to say the least. The Zionist movement possessed a vital, at times pre-eminent, ‘dovish’ wing in its pre-state phase. What on earth are Palestinian moderates waiting for? I am well aware that ‘intellectual paper[s] such as the London Review of Books are not … removed from the arena of war’ – that is why I was pleased to attempt a contribution to peace-making, or at least to the ‘received discourse’ of how we think about it, in the pages of the London Review. Finally, I never argued that Israeli military strength alone could establish a peaceful region: only that the perception of Israeli vulnerability is a sure recipe for ongoing strife. Our ‘telling and retelling of the histories of war’ will not, alas, influence ‘the election of governments’ in Arab countries, where there are no elections, nor in Israel, where what is awaited is not Susanne Kappeler’s version of events but the appearance of Jordanian and Palestinian moderation, à la Sadat.

David Twersky
Kibbutz Gezer, Israel


SIR: One would hope that James Hopkins’s straightforward and scholarly response (Letters, 7 July) to Frank Cioffi’s ill-mannered and tendentious review would put an end to the latter’s anti-Freudian campaign. Particularly telling was Hopkins’s: ‘reading Cioffi on Freud, one’s attention turns to Cioffi rather than Freud. One begins to ask: how far is he willing to go …? And why?’ Quite. No doubt Cioffi will respond with his by now tediously familiar evasive reference to ‘the argument from resistance’. Isn’t it about time he came clean about his infantile toilet difficulties.

Gordon Hawkins
Institute of Criminology, Sydney University Law School

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.