Men of Letters: 100 Years of Hugh Trevor-Roper

by Minoo Dinshaw

The Oxford Examination Schools see a lot of action beside their official purpose. Here Christopher Ricks has displayed his agility and Geoffrey Hill his ferocity, during their respective reigns as Professor of Poetry. More recently the admirers of Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), Lord Dacre of Glanton and onetime Regius Professor of History, gathered here on a chilly January morning a few days before the centenary of his birth. Trevor-Roper’s literary executor, Blair Worden, welcomed the company – enough to fill the South School’s broad expanse – and said he believed ‘Hugh would be pleased, and indeed surprised.’ He also congratulated us on our range of ages. This range was technically rather than visibly wide; the glossy manes of a few young Prize Fellows of All Souls peeked out from the silver sea. [read full essay]

Looking Through the Window

Patrick Keiller, The View From The Train: Cities & Other Landscapes

reviewed by David Anderson

A train is an extraordinary bundle of relations because it is something through which one goes, it is also something by means of which one can go from one point to another, and then it is also something that goes by. Michel Foucault's 1967 sketch of the ‘heterotopia’ identified one of rail travel's peculiar qualities: that mixture of attachment and detachment with the world outside the window. It's not dissimilar from what Michel de Certeau had to say in The Practice of Everyday Life,... [read more]

What Is The State?

Louis Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses

reviewed by Daniel Whittall

In the quest for the clearest exemplification of Louis Althusser’s conceptualisation of the State, as formulated in On the Reproduction of Capitalism, one could do much worse than to settle on the Mark Duggan case. Duggan, as is now well known, was executed on the streets of London by officers of the Metropolitan Police. The Met, ensured that their public relations operation went into overdrive immediately, putting out a systematic campaign of disinformation. In the immediacy of the event,... [read more]

‘The finest books are those which have the least subject matter’

Michael Sayeau, Against the Event: The Everyday and the Evolution of Modernist Narrative

reviewed by Katie Da Cunha Lewin

Michael Sayeau’s Against the Event: the Everyday and Evolution of Modernist Narrative is an intensive study into the way the event shapes and constructs narrative in the modernist movement. Sayeau blends contextual socio-political details that informs modernism as a whole, with analysis of the structural imperatives he finds in modernist texts to suggest the inextricable relationship between the event in the life of the subject and the event in the scope of society. The introduction... [read more]

What Survives

Morrissey, Autobiography

reviewed by Nicolas Padamsee

The contours of life are not the contours of art: the former coils, the latter arrows. We wend our way forwards with caducuous dreams, stop-start careers and capricious slews, whereas (successful) fictional characters follow a lodestar – their motivations fixed, their attachments delineated, their nadirs and their peaks manifest. For this is what lures us to films and novels: definiteness, the placement of pattern. So. What then of the autobiography? Well, the salient lure is... [read more]

The phallus par excellence

EDA Collective, Why Are Animals Funny? Everyday Analysis: Volume 1

reviewed by Jamie Mackay

Research culture in the humanities has always been elitist, but never has it been so cut-throat and drained of vitality. While established thinkers cling to their hard-earned brands a new generation of dialecticians fight tooth and nail over raw morsels of funding, their self-esteem secured only by conservative dreams of more bloody and radical days. The university is a depressing place to do theory. So often friendships are left to a series of ‘what if’s as groups are torn apart by... [read more]

‘Crystallized, perfected, adorned'

Judith Butler, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism

reviewed by Maya Osborne

The late and great critic Edward Said is aptly evoked in Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism when Judith Butler writes that ‘Since there is no self without a boundary, and that boundary is always a site of multiple relations, there is no self without its relations.’ This proposition forms part of Butler’s critique of Zionism, and it levels with the possibility that if we deny this necessarily multiple relation to boundaries, we are dangerously placing ourselves in a world... [read more]

True Value

Ben Marcus, Leaving the Sea

reviewed by Jake Elliott

Leaving The Sea is only the third offering of Ben Marcus’s fiction we have seen in the UK. 2012 saw the publication of his masterpiece The Flame Alphabet by Granta, who have also had the good sense to republish his earlier work The Age of Wire and String with beautiful illustrations by Catrin Morgan. Given the outstanding quality of his writing, I can only assume that plans are in place to bring Notable American Women to UK readers without forcing them onto the internet and the custom of... [read more]

A Nasty and Brutal Business

Christopher Hale, Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai

reviewed by John Newsinger

For many years the British Army had a reputation as experts in counterinsurgency. Whereas both the French and the Americans had suffered humiliating defeats in Indo-China, Algeria and Vietnam, the British had not only successfully crushed insurgencies in Malaya, Kenya and elsewhere, but also managed the task without resorting to the brutality, torture and overkill that discredited other counterinsurgency campaigns. In the 1990s, this reputation was reinforced by the British performance in... [read more]

'I am not a man, I am dynamite'

Peter Sloterdijk, Nietzsche Apostle

reviewed by Stuart Walton

Peter Sloterdijk's Nietzsche, celebrated here in the transcript of a talk given in Weimar on the centenary in 2000 of the German philosopher's death, is first and foremost the iconoclast of language, which is to say of classical philosophical discourse. Standing at the dawn of humanity's plunge into irrationality, he is also the end-result of a tradition of self-assertion that expressed itself through the hubris of nations with regard to their own cultures, and their belligerent intentions... [read more]

It's Time to Start Taking Jane Bowles Seriously

Jane Bowles, Two Serious Ladies

reviewed by Anna Coatman

This February, HarperCollins US published a new edition of Jane Bowles’ 1943 novel Two Serious Ladies. If you’ve never read the book before, I hope this news might prompt you to do so - but please don’t judge it by its cover. The design features an illustration of two young women in 1940s dresses. It’s nice, in its way: pretty, a bit kooky, cute. The thing is, Two Serious Ladies isn’t. The two ladies on the cover (described as being ‘like an ad for Daria’ by the women’s... [read more]