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Manchester book reviews
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Manchester book reviews

The King's English

The King's English by Kingsley Amis

Penguin Modern Classics (ISBN-13: 978-0141194318)

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2011


At once the 'lie' and the 'elite' of crowds;
Who pass like water filter'd in a tank,
All purged and pious from their native clouds;

(Don Juan By Lord Byron - Canto XIII)

 

This was the first use of the word ‘elite’ in the English language since the mid-15th Century, when it was used to described a Bishop-elect. It was itself a ‘borrowed’ term from the old French eslite (‘selected’ or ‘chosen ones’). Though Byron seems to be indulging in a bit of sarcasm in Don Juan, the term fell into common usage and generally came to describe a group of people who set themselves apart from society through their tastes in the ‘finer things in life’. The term was sometimes used interchangeably with ‘snobs’, but there is a vast difference between the pretentions of snobbery and the rigorous defence of values that was a characteristic of elitism.

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Manchester book reviews

The Cambridge Quintet

The Cambridge Quintet

by John L. Casti

Reviewed by Charles Brickdale April 2011

 

This review article was solicited to form part of some background readings for a discussion on Artificial Intelligence and Human Consciousness organised by the Manchester Salon to coincide with the Manchester Science Festival.

 

The Cambridge Quintet’ by John L. Casti is not about chamber music or yet another batch of undergraduates recruited by the KGB. It concerns one of those slow-burning science stories that has been smouldering quietly away, occasionally flaring up and generating some light and a fair amount of heat, in the backgrounds of our lives for many decades.

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Manchester book reviews

Dog Day Dimp by Peter Clayfield

Dog Day Dimp by Peter Clayfield

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley April 2011


I’d just finished reading yet another ‘crime’ novel (my favourite genre) and was ready to play detective again, when I spotted a couple of interesting books by Peter Clayfield on Simon’s (my husband’s) desk. I picked up ‘Dog Day Dimp’ as I was intrigued by the cover, I know, I know don’t judge a book and all that, but the book itself looked smaller than a normal sized paperback – I only mention this because I said to Simon that the size felt great for me having small hands and the book felt really easy to handle. It was only then that I read the ‘sleeve/description/synopsis’ and realised that it was about a Dwarf and the thought crossed my mind that this was a deliberate ploy – you know a book for little people. However in fact it is the same size as normal paperbacks, just an optical illusion and one I’m not sure was intended. So basically I snatched this book, before it was passed on to one of the other reviewers around the Salon to do a proper formal review – but here are my ramblings and thoughts and hope you will forgive such an apolitical review!

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Manchester book reviews

Phantom of the Apple

Phantom of the Apple by John Kay

Reviewed by Denis Joe February 2011

One of the greatest challenges for any poet is finding a form which they are comfortable with; one in which they can compose freely and without a feeling of "sameness". It is also a challenge for the reader/listener who is faced with the prospect of becoming too familiar with a work too quickly and could easily get bored.

 

The history of poetry is full of collections in forms. Sonnets are usually the poem of choice. But there have been other forms used.

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Democracy and other neoliberal fantasies

Democracy and other neoliberal fantasies

by Professor Jodi Dean

To be reviewed by Simon Belt April 2011

 

From the back cover:

 

Product Description
"Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies" is an impassioned call for the realization of a progressive left politics in the United States. Through an assessment of the ideologies underlying contemporary political culture, Jodi Dean takes the left to task for its capitulations to conservatives and its failure to take responsibility for the extensive neo-liberalization implemented during the Clinton presidency. She argues that the left's ability to develop and defend a collective vision of equality and solidarity has been undermined by the ascendance of 'communicative capitalism,' a constellation of consumerism, the privileging of the individual self over group interests, and the embrace of the language of victimization. As Dean explains, communicative capitalism is enabled and exacerbated by the Web and other networked communications media, which reduce political energies to the registration of opinion and transmission of feelings.

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