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A Philosopher’s Character

Gareth Evans, 7 February 1980

by Paul Levy.
Weidenfeld, 335 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 297 77576 6
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... of this century. He lived a rather uneventful life, almost entirely in a university setting: as Paul Levy writes rather wistfully in the introduction to his book, ‘he slew no dragons and rescued no maidens; he did not even have the adventures life allotted to other philosophers like Russell, who went to jail, or Wittgenstein, who went to war.’ The ...

Noovs’ hoovs in the trough

Angela Carter, 24 January 1985

The Official Foodie Handbook 
by Ann Barr and Paul Levy.
Ebury, 144 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 85223 348 5
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine 
by Elizabeth David.
Hale, 318 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7090 2047 3
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Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook 
by Alice Waters, foreword by Jane Grigson .
Chatto, 340 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2820 8
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... indeed make good 20th-century sense to worship food, but punters of ‘foodism’ (as Ann Barr and Paul Levy jokily dub this phenomenon) are evidently not about to drop to their knees because they are starving.‘Foodies’, according to Barr and Levy, are ‘children of the consumer boom’ who consider ‘food to be ...

Matters of Taste

Peter Graham, 4 December 1986

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
by Harold McGee.
Allen and Unwin, 684 pp., £20, September 1986, 9780043060032
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The French Menu Cookbook 
by Richard Olney.
Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 86318 181 3
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Out to Lunch 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 240 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3091 1
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The Good Food Guide 1987 
edited by Drew Smith.
Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 340 39600 8
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... terms than ‘happy’ or ‘exciting’ to describe his culinary experiences or suggestions. Paul Levy, another American, who writes on food in the Observer and elsewhere, is a very different animal. I cannot see him sitting down like Olney and sorting a heap of garden peas into two categories, large and small. He has enthusiasm rather than ...

Ah, la vie!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Lytton Strachey’s letters, 1 December 2005

The Letters of Lytton Strachey 
edited by Paul Levy.
Viking, 698 pp., £30, March 2005, 0 670 89112 6
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... about me – I mean what I feel about my work,’ he wrote to Ottoline Morrell in a letter that Paul Levy has strangely chosen to omit. ‘Perhaps you don’t see that the idea of my really not working is simply an impossibility. Sometimes you have admonished me on the subject, and I think I have been rather curt in my answers; it was because I felt so ...


D.A.N. Jones, 12 July 1990

A Sort of Clowning: Life and Times, 1940-59 
by Richard Hoggart.
Chatto, 225 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7011 3607 3
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Tilting at Don Quixote 
by Nicholas Wollaston.
Deutsch, 314 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 233 98551 4
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Finger Lickin’ Good: A Kentucky Childhood 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 202 pp., £13.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3521 2
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How Many Miles to Babylon? 
by Adewale Maja-Pearce.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 434 44172 4
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... been harassed by the African children chanting Oyinbo! – which means, roughly, ‘Paleface!’ Paul Levy’s experience, recorded in Finger Lickin’ Good, is not wholly dissimilar. He is food correspondent for the Observer and has written scholarly books about Bloomsbury people: we might suppose him to be British-born, but he was raised in ...

The Blindfolded Archer

Donald MacKenzie: The stochastic dynamics of market prices, 4 August 2005

The (Mis)behaviour of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward 
by Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard Hudson.
Profile, 328 pp., £9.99, September 2005, 1 86197 790 5
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... of a family of statistical distributions first identified by the great French probability theorist Paul Lévy, who had been one of Mandelbrot’s professors at the Ecole Polytechnique in the 1940s. Lévy was not a charismatic teacher – from the back of a lecture theatre ‘he was near inaudible,’ Mandelbrot says – but Mandelbrot persisted, at one point ...

In the Studio

Rye Dag Holmboe: Howard Hodgkin, 3 June 2021

... I could dream of’. The result was alluring but also eccentric. Hodgkin had what his friend Paul Levy described as a ‘weird’ predilection for chairs – these included a Venetian gondola seat, a colonial chair and a plastic tulip armchair from the 1950s – which he was forever moving around. He made lampshades out of cheap white plastic ...
The Shorter Strachey 
selected and introduced by Michael Holroyd and Paul Levy.
Oxford, 288 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 19 212211 8
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Lytton Strachey 
by Michael Holroyd.
Penguin, 1143 pp., £4.95, December 1979, 0 14 003198 7
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... It is odd that Lytton Strachey did not manage to strike up much fellow-feeling for Prospero. In an essay of 1904 on Shakespeare’s final period we find the puncturing remark (uncharacteristic of later deflationary measures only in the diffidence of the opening phrase): ‘To an irreverent eye, the ex-Duke of Milan would perhaps appear as an unpleasantly crusty personage, in whom a twelve years’ monopoly of the conversation had developed an inordinate propensity for talking ...
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... from two pieces, dropped from the English edition, on his friends Philippe Sollers and Jean-Paul Enthoven), Lévy only engages in discussions of the political philosopher Luc Ferry and with Régis Debray, and perhaps because he suspects that this is too lowkey, he ends the book with a nostalgic touch – a flashback to Althusser’s mysticism. Since the ...


Brian Rotman: Fractals, 7 November 2013

The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick 
by Benoit Mandelbrot.
Pantheon, 324 pp., £22.50, October 2012, 978 0 307 37735 7
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... of Mathematics of the Soviet Union. Two other French mathematicians are present, Arnaud Denjoy and Paul Montel, who had supervised Szolem’s PhD thesis. The others at the dinner table are Benoit’s father (second from left, referred to throughout as ‘Father’), his grandfather Szlomo, the white-bearded patriarch of the family who spoke only Yiddish, and ...

Greatest Happiness

Brian Barry, 19 January 1984

The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. Vol. I: Cambridge Essays 1888-1899 
edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew Brink, Nicholas Griffin, Richard Rempel and John Slater.
Allen and Unwin, 554 pp., £48, November 1983, 0 04 920067 4
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... material world, with no one to contemplate it, is better if it is beautiful than if it is ugly. Paul Levy, in his biography of Moore, charges that Russell’s paper attacks a position that Moore did not hold.* He says that the paper ‘badly misrepresented the views Moore had expressed the week before’ and goes on to construct a puzzle about ‘how ...

Maschler Pudding

John Bayley, 19 October 1995

À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... but eggs benedict, or scrambled eggs and bacon. But there is also poetry in the genuinely exotic. Paul Levy once held out reverently to me between his finger and thumb a small object, of indeterminate colour, and urged me to bite it. It tasted of nothing at all, but when I pointed this out he brushed the objection away with tolerant disdain. ‘That is ...

Communiste et Rastignac

Christopher Caldwell: Bernard Kouchner, 9 July 2009

Le Monde selon K. 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 331 pp., €19, February 2009, 978 2 213 64372 4
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... its most visible and charismatic face. This group evolved into Médecins sans frontières, which Paul Berman describes in Power and the Idealists (2005) as ‘a more political Red Cross – a Red Cross willing to identify the political realities that create humanitarian crises’. In general, Kouchner thought, the left should not sit around while people got ...

Countess Bitch

Robert Tombs, 16 November 1995

The Notorious Life of Gyp: Right-Wing Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle France 
by Willa Silverman.
Oxford, 325 pp., £24, June 1995, 0 19 508754 2
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... After his rapid demise, she transferred her admiration to the nationalist poet and agitator Paul Déroulède, her hero during the Dreyfus Affair, during which she had the time of her life, devoting her talents as satirist and cartoonist to the anti-semitic cause. Finally, she gave grudging approval to the radical Clemenceau – ‘A real Frenchman, very ...

The Guru of Suburbia

Elaine Showalter, 16 December 1993

My Father’s Guru: A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusionment 
by Jeffrey Masson.
HarperCollins, 174 pp., £16.99, August 1993, 0 00 255126 8
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... belief and devastating disillusion, because he had grown up in a family with a resident guru, one Paul Brunton or P.B. Masson’s tantalising remarks about this unusual upbringing have been fleshed out in My Father’s Guru, and it’s a dilly. There have been memoirs before about growing up in a narrow sect – one thinks of Edmund Gosse and the Plymouth ...

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