Making Sense of Thatcherism and Crime

by Stephen Farrall

Crime was a topic which Thatcher often referred to, especially during the 1979 general election campaign when she frequently talked about people wanting to feel safe walking the streets. She also favoured the use of corporal punishment and voted to bring back hanging whenever there was a vote on the topic in the Houses of Parliament. But in practice, her governments were not known for being especially ‘tough’ on crime. The memoirs of successive Home Secretaries in the 1980s reveal that Thatcher was content to leave them to run the Home Office and to bring forth whichever sorts of acts they wished to – despite the fact that crime rose during the 1980s in a dramatic fashion. [read full essay]

Great Art Exists in the Margins

Sergio De La Pava, A Naked Singularity

reviewed by Matt Lewis

No review of Sergio de la Pava’s debut novel would be complete without a comment on the fact that this now-prize-winning novel was originally self-published. Armed with an unwieldy manuscript of more than one thousand pages, the author (a public defender in his mid-thirties) was turned down by more than eighty publishers. In spite of these rejections, de la Pava decided to publish the book himself using the print-on-demand company Xlibris. Thanks in part to the assiduous solicitation of his... [read more]

'This is what I’m capable of when I let myself go’

Rachel Cooke, Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties

reviewed by Samantha Ellis

I thought I knew what women did in the Fifties. They baked cupcakes, wearing pinnies and circle skirts. Or they went mad in the suburbs, as per Marilyn French’s epic soap opera of despair The Women’s Room (1977). But the ten women Rachel Cooke celebrates in this sparkling book did something else: they had careers. Which took some doing. Women still couldn’t take out mortgages in their own name, and couldn’t get a diaphragm without showing a marriage certificate. They felt guilty... [read more]

LOL/OMG he is crazy

Georges Bataille, trans. Stuart Kendall , Louis XXX

reviewed by Robert Kiely

Georges Bataille’s work is profoundly heterogeneous, being linked to the domains of literature, anthropology, philosophy, economy, sociology and history of art. He is an intensely inward-looking writer, pre-occupied with his major themes - death, eroticism, sovereignty – endlessly. One of his major works is Inner Experience, a quasi-theological and mystical series of meditations, mixed in with semi-autobiographical fragments - almost all of his texts are this chimera-like. My used copy of... [read more]

All Too (Post-) Human

Stefan Herbrechter, Posthumanism: A Critical Introduction

reviewed by John P. Merrick

If ‘anti-humanism’ sought to push us away from essentialist notions of the human, with all its liberal-ideological baggage attached, then post-humanism can be seen as the need to take seriously the non-human. This need springs from the fact that humans themselves are gaining the ability to become this ‘other’ of the human. We have the potential, then, to become ‘post-human’. This is due to the rapid development of prosthesis in its many forms, from the internet, new media, genetic... [read more]

God is in the TV

Stefan Andriopoulos, Ghostly Apparitions: German Idealism, the Gothic Novel, and Optical Media

reviewed by Stuart Walton

The authorised version of the European Enlightenment holds that sovereign human reason, borne aloft on the currents of scientific investigation and discovery, put to rout the irrational forces of superstition and immaterial belief, bequeathing us an intellectual culture in which there would be absolutely no justification, say, three centuries later, for people still to be arguing about the existence of God. What this tidily linear narrative misses is that the immaterial was of continuing... [read more]

The Fictions of Faith

Eve Harris, The Marrying of Chani Kaufman

reviewed by Dana Drori

Eve Harris’s The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, long-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize, seeks to elucidate an isolated world—the Haredi, or ultra-orthodox, Jewish community in Golders Green, London. The title reveals the plot: Chani Kaufman, 19 and a little too spunky for most Haredi boys, has finally been arranged to marry 20-year-old Orthodox-yet-secret-Coldplay-fan Baruch Levy. The book grows from their union, with chapters taking on the perspective of two other characters in the... [read more]

Anti-Semitism Everywhere?

Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan and Ivan Segré, Reflections on Anti-Semitism

reviewed by Eugene Brennan

Badiou and Hazan’s ‘“Anti-Semitism Everywhere” in France Today’, the first text in this two-part volume, situates French anti-Semitism within a historical continuity of harnessing anti-popular sentiment against the most recent arrivals in France. Marine Le Pen has lead her Front National party from widespread Holocaust-denial to brazenly offering kindness and friendship to the Jewish population. Her kindness towards the Jews does not, however, extend to other minorities in France. Le... [read more]

Documentary Fiction

John Schad, The Late Walter Benjamin

reviewed by Alex Niven

From the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On aesthetic so beloved of middlebrow publishers and fashion designers, to the sort of atavistic monarchism sparked by the Diamond Jubilee and the Wills-and-Kate retro-domestic revival, the 1940s and ‘50s are – in contemporary argot – the hottest decades in the world right now. Arguably, in a culture that has raided just about every other corner of 20th-century history to feed its consumer-kitsch sweet tooth, partying like it’s 1949 is merely another... [read more]

High Risks, High Rises

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

reviewed by Sara Veale

New York as a character in a mystery would not be the detective, would not be the murderer. It would be the enigmatic suspect who knows the real story but isn’t going to tell it. So pens American crime writer Donald E. Westlake, whose words comprise the epigraph to Bleeding Edge, the latest installment in Thomas Pynchon’s varied and well-canvassed repertory. Revisiting the Big Apple as a setting for the first time since his 1963 debut, V, Pynchon heeds Westlake’s direction and employs... [read more]

Clausewitzian Gestures

Howard Caygill, On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance

reviewed by Alex Fletcher

‘Saints, hermits, but also intellectuals. The few who have made history are those who have said no.’ Pier Paolo Pasolini Our present has been marked by the enduring iteration and persistence of resistances; from the Arab insurgencies, to the resistance of the indignados and aganaktismenoi, to the global eruption of the Occupy movement, to the ‘Taskim Republic’. Whether experienced as images on a screen, or on the street (through a blurred vision provoked by tear-gas) the last several... [read more]