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How did the slime mould cross the maze?

Adrian Woolfson: The Future of Emergence, 21 March 2002

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software 
by Steven Johnson.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 7139 9400 2
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The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture 
by Mark Taylor.
Chicago, 340 pp., £20.50, January 2002, 0 226 79117 3
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... in that they apply the mathematical logic of complex systems to cultural – and, in the case of Taylor, cognitive – phenomena. They do so in a metaphorical rather than explicitly mathematical manner, and focus on the transformative and generative power of self-organising principles in contexts as diverse as the World Wide Web, global ...

Wizard of Ox

Paul Addison, 8 November 1990

... Many tributes have been paid to Alan Taylor, including some by old and close friends who knew him very much better than I did. My excuse for adding one more piece is that I would like to explain something of what he meant to younger historians who came within his orbit. Perhaps I shall end up speaking only for myself, but at any rate I can speak from experience as one of his pupils ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Shakespeare’s Faces, 7 January 2016

... has supported. Only the question of its authorship was troublesome. The identity of ‘Jo: Taylor’ has been subjected to a needle-in-haystack search for a painter called John Taylor. Duncan-Jones, threading her way carefully back through the marginalia of the historian George Vertue into the theatrical networks of ...

Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks

Adam Smyth: Paper, 15 June 2017

Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... In​ 1619, for a bet, John Taylor – prolific poet, proud Londoner, waterman, prankster, anti-pollution campaigner, barman, literary celebrity, palindrome enthusiast (‘Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel’) – sailed forty miles down the Thames to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in a boat made from brown paper ...

On ChatGPT

Paul Taylor, 5 January 2023

... questions I got ChatGPT to answer, but I’ve no way of knowing whether they also used it. When I mark it, I might be able to spot a resemblance between the answers ChatGPT generates and a student’s submission, but the algorithm responds differently to each interaction, so they won’t get the same answer I did. Plagiarism checkers are no use. Next year we ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior, 12 March 2009

The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... of those great Victorian achievements which, like sewers, public libraries and bicycles, seems to mark the dawn of civilised modernity. He led the crusade against the Corn Laws – the notorious ‘bread tax’ of 1815, a tariff on imports designed to subsidise the British farmer – and campaigned for peace and disarmament, cheap newspapers and the penny ...

Strange Little Woman

Ferdinand Mount: First and Only Empress, 22 November 2018

Empress: Queen Victoria and India 
by Miles Taylor.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 300 11809 4
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Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent 
by Emily Hannam.
Royal Collections Trust, 256 pp., £45, June 2018, 978 1 909741 45 4
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Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-76 
by Kajal Meghani.
Royal Collections Trust, 216 pp., £29.95, March 2017, 978 1 909741 42 3
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... one, not least for the unexpected light it shines on India’s emergence as a nation state. Miles Taylor is better known as a historian of Chartism and Victorian radical politics generally, but this background comes in handy here, as he takes the queen out of court politics and into the popular arena, where she proves surprisingly at home. Throughout his ...

Old Dad dead?

Michael Neill: Thomas Middleton, 4 December 2008

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 2016 pp., £85, November 2007, 978 0 19 818569 7
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Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 1183 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 818570 3
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... be learned from the appearance of the new Oxford Middleton. Even as the blurb declares that Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino’s monumental collection is ‘based on the award-winning design of the Oxford Shakespeare’, the binding and dust jacket defiantly proclaim its difference from that distinguished model. The Shakespeare was bound in the press’s ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur Gavshon and I may have been, the fact is that without the sustained interest of Guardian readers, and, in my case, the Labour Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on ...

Small America

Michael Peel: A report from Liberia, 7 August 2003

... had just emerged from another devastating civil conflict, in which the current President, Charles Taylor, played a leading role. A former Government minister who fell out with the military regime of Samuel Doe, Taylor managed to escape from a Massachusetts jail in 1985: he was being held pending extradition on embezzlement ...

Up to Islip

Rosalind Mitchison, 2 August 1984

An Old Man’s Diary 
by A.J.P. Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 155 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 241 11247 8
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... I can settle to a collection of diary pieces from our most distinguished modern historian, A.J.P. Taylor. Of course these are not real diary entries. A real diary entry is full of personal items which the law of libel or the proscription of the totally trivial contrive to rule out. Journalism diaries have to be compiled on principles of their own. Names can ...


A.J.P. Taylor: Preposterous Arrangements, 18 August 1983

... lecture climax I heard from him was: ‘To confuse nudity with indecency is the distinguishing mark of the barbarian.’ I wonder whether the Greeks really said this. Stoughton Holborn certainly said it with a strong Scotch accent. Nothing of the slightest interest seems to be happening in public affairs. It would be better to close the whole show down for ...


John Lanchester: Getting into Esports, 13 August 2020

... I was actually in the Caribbean watching the cricket in 1995 when the Australian team led by Mark Taylor beat the West Indies at home and established a new era in the game with a revived Australia at the top. The star bowler of that Australian side, Glenn McGrath, was the best in the world for a long time, but has now been retired for 13 ...

My Shirt-Front Starched

Adam Phillips: Proust’s Megalomania, 28 July 2016

Proust: The Search 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Yale, 199 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 300 16416 9
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... of 18, ‘possession withers them.’ It was an insight from which he never recovered. As Benjamin Taylor puts it in his new biography, Proust’s ‘vitality’ was ‘checkmated by the excess of self-seeing’; knowing these people – knowing anyone – ended in catastrophic disappointment. Only a new lyricism of self-doubt could do justice to his ...

Carers or Consumers?

Barbara Taylor: 18th-Century Women, 4 November 2010

Women and Enlightenment in 18th-Century Britain 
by Karen O’Brien.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £17.99, March 2009, 978 0 521 77427 7
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... History of Women. Alexander was a man of the Enlightenment who regarded politeness to women as a mark of civilisation. Savages and ‘musselmen’ might treat their women as sexual helots, but a gentleman was solicitous of his womenfolk. Whether women deserved such treatment was another matter. Modern European women were commendably good-hearted, always ...

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