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Non-Identity Crisis

Stephen Mulhall: Parfit’s Trolley Problem, 1 June 2023

Parfit: A Philosopher and His Mission to Save Morality 
by David Edmonds.
Princeton, 380 pp., £28, April, 978 0 691 22523 4
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... For David Edmonds​ , and for many other philosophers, Derek Parfit, who died in 2017, was one of the greatest moral thinkers of the past century, perhaps even since John Stuart Mill. Edmonds rightly believes that if Parfit’s ideas about personal identity, rationality and equality were absorbed into our moral and political thinking, they would radically alter our beliefs about punishment, the distribution of social resources, our relationship to future generations, and more ...

Class Traitor

Edward Pearce, 11 June 1992

Maverick: The Life of a Union Rebel 
by Eric Hammond.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 297 81200 9
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... have been wider than that dividing two nominal moderates. Frank Chapple of the Electricians and David Basnett of the G and M. Chapple began the tradition of heroic truculence, justifiable if unsubtle anti-Communism, double arm’s-length relations with the TUC General Council and aggressive modernisation. Basnett, an honest man inheriting a measure of ...


John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... David Storey’s new novel begins with a brief prelude reminiscent of The Rainbow’s, tracing the historical mutations of a locality from its natural to its urban (here 1930s) condition. The theme of the novel has other evident similarities with Sons and Lovers. Both deal with the emergence of artistic talent from working-class fetters ...

Two Hares and a Priest

Patricia Beer: Pushkin, 13 May 1999

by Elizabeth Feinstein.
Weidenfeld, 309 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 297 81826 0
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... has important implications: in his biography, Pushkin: The Man and His Age (1994), Robin Edmonds strong-mindedly refrains from even attempting to introduce Pushkin’s poetry to readers who have no Russian, and helpfully fobs us off with the diplomatic and historical background of Pushkin’s life. Feinstein also mentions ...


Elizabeth Young, 25 February 1993

The Case of Anna Kavan 
by David Callard.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, January 1993, 0 7206 0867 8
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... it begin and where did it end?’ wrote her close friend Raymond Marriott. In such circumstances David Callard should be congratulated for completing the project al all. It is not a very satisfactory biography but she was not a very satisfactory subject. Callard’s previous book, Pretty Good for a Woman: The Enigma of Evelyn Scott, charted the life of a ...

Not Very Permeable

Colin Kidd: Rory Stewart’s Borderlands, 19 January 2017

The Marches: Border Walks with My Father 
by Rory Stewart.
Cape, 351 pp., £18.99, October 2016, 978 0 224 09768 0
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... the northern isles? Indeed, Stewart reminds us that as late as the 12th century the Scottish king David I described himself as the ruler of a mixed people, not only Gaelic Scots, but Northumbrians, Flemings and Cumbric Britons. Multi-ethnic kingdoms, significantly, preceded nations. By the early 14th century these various ethnic groups were described as a ...


John Lanchester, 11 July 1991

Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... for works by artists as different from each other as P.D. James, DV8 Physical Dance Theatre and David Lynch. Stephen Egger, an American academic and former policeman who wrote the first doctoral dissertation on the phenomenon, gives a definition/description of serial murder in Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon: A serial murder occurs when one or more ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... experts, it too will have been elected for nought.) And the platoon’s roll still goes on, with David Reynolds on 1940 (not this book’s finest chapter), Henry Pelling on ‘... and the Labour Movement’ (Commies are included), Max Beloff on ‘... and Europe’, and Sarvepalli Gopal on ‘... and India’ – Gopal unaccountably holds a grudge against ...

You Know Who You Are

Colin Kidd: About Last Year, 25 January 2018

Fall Out: A Year Of Political Mayhem 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 559 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 0 00 826438 3
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... with Brussels and the EU 27, reporting back directly not to his own secretary of state, David Davis, but to the prime minister? The magnitude of Brexit is daunting enough, but, within the realm of what was manageable, did the May government marshal its counsellors as effectively as it could have done? Cameron’s European advisers had deliberately ...


Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... 1%’ signs and shouting at the delegates: ‘Don’t look at me, you might catch poverty.’ David Brooks of the New York Times walked by. He always seemed to be walking by. A man pointed at the ‘Mr 1%’ sign and said: ‘That should be “Mr 0.001%”, thank you.’ They were considering a trip to a strip club to confront delegates about ‘issues ...

A Pound Here, a Pound There

David Runciman, 21 August 2014

... and its eclectic membership included the philosopher Bernard Williams, the sports commentator David Coleman and the agony aunt Marje Proops. The report they produced two years later was measured, intelligent, elegantly written, slightly agonised and almost wholly ineffectual. The Rothschild Commission accepted that the law on gambling in Britain remained ...

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