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    This is a new translation of Simone de Beauvoir's classic The Second Sex published (late last year) to mark the 60th anniversary of its original publication. Translators Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier have produced the first integral translation of the book, and have reinstated a third of the original work. If you've read The Second Sex before, well, you haven't! The old translation was a disgrace...

    Toril Moi has more at the LRB:

    However intensely Anglophone feminists debated The Second Sex, the [original] English translation, by H.M. Parshley, did not become an issue until 1983, when Margaret Simons, a professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, drew attention to it in her essay, The Silencing of Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir had offered Parshley no help; she was already hard at work on The Mandarins before he was half-way through his translation. Now Simons estimated that Parshley had cut at least 10 per cent of the original text, and showed that the most savage cuts affected Beauvoir's account of exceptional women in history. She also demonstrated that Parshley had made a hash of Beauvoir's philosophical vocabulary. After reading Simons's essay, Beauvoir replied: "I was dismayed to learn the extent to which Mr Parshley misrepresented me. I wish with all my heart that you will be able to publish a new translation of it..."

    The strength of Parshley's 57-year-old translation is that it is lively and readable. Parshley was, on all evidence, an excellent writer of English. When he understood the French, he usually found the right phrase and managed to convey nuances of irony and poetry. The most serious weaknesses are the unannounced cuts; but his complete lack of familiarity with Beauvoir's philosophical vocabulary and the deficiencies in his knowledge of French also undermine his version of the book (more...)

  • Paul McCartney: A Life

    Tue, 09 Feb 2010 04:53

    The Boston Times takes a look at Peter A. Carlin's life of my fellow Scouser, Sir Paul McCartney:

    The story is familiar: As arguably the greatest rock n' roll band, the Beatles ruled 60s culture. John Lennon was the smart one and the leader; Paul McCartney, the cute No. 2; George Harrison, the restless genius-in-waiting; and Ringo Starr, the funny reality check.

    In Paul McCartney: A Life, Peter A. Carlin offers a reconsideration of the dynamics of the band and McCartney's role in it, arguing that Paul was as much a leader as John. But he also offers a complex portrait of an artist whose insecurities were fanned when he was in the presence of talented musicians with strong artistic visions, but who did his best work when around them.

    As primary evidence, Carlin presents an appropriately unflattering analysis of McCartney's work after the Beatles broke up in 1970. Despite occasionally great post-Beatles music like the singles Maybe I'm Amazed, Live and Let Die, and the albums Band on the Run and the fabulously retro Run Devil Run, he observes that McCartney failed to grow beyond the work he did with Lennon.

    For this warm, fair book, Carlin interviewed childhood friends, former business associates, and members of various McCartney bands, particularly Wings -- but was not, unfortunately, granted interviews with McCartney or Starr. Carlin's description of the process involved in McCartney's creation of Yesterday and of the influence McCartney's effortless musicality had on the group underscore how much influence he had on the direction of the iconic band (more...)

  • Writing in The Independent the excellent Boyd Tonkin said Jaron Lanier's You are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto contains "the finest diagnosis of the internet's 'culture of sadism' I have ever read". I don't recognise that culture, but I do think this book is an important contribution to a vital debate:

    Something went wrong around the start of the 21st century. Individual creativity began to go out of fashion. Music became an endless rehashing of the past. Scientists were in danger of no longer understanding their own research. Indeed, not only was individual creativity old-fashioned but individuals themselves. The crowd was wise. Machines, specifically computers, were no longer tools to be used by human minds - they were better than humans. Welcome to the world of the digital revolution. Yet what if, by devaluing individuals, we are deadening creativity, endlessly rehashing past culture, risking weaker design in engineering and science, losing democracy, and reducing development -- in every sphere?

    In You Are Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier, digital guru, and inventor of Virtual Reality, delivers a searing manifesto in support of the human and reflects on the good and bad developments in design and thought twenty years after the invention of the web. Controversial and fascinating, You Are Not a Gadget is a deeply felt defence of the individual from an author uniquely qualified to comment on the way technology interacts with our culture.

  • The Financial Times gets to grips with Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz declaring it "the best book so far on the financial crisis":

    Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist, is knowledgeable about the historical background, immersed in the policy debate and a pioneer of the economic theories needed to understand the origins of the problems. Although the material is necessarily difficult at times, the book is also easy to read. It is therefore indispensable not just for those who (like me) are broadly sympathetic to the Stiglitz position but for those who would rebut these charges.

    Stiglitz's account begins in the 1980s, the decade of deregulation and privatisation. The symbol of these changes for financial markets was the replacement of Paul Volcker by Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. This set the way for light regulation of the banking system and created a willingness to respond to any market setback with a relaxation of monetary policy -- the "Greenspan put". These developments were not the result of policy oversight but of policy design. Conservatives and Wall Street got the policy framework they had sought (more...)

  • The Financial Times gets to grips with Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz declaring it "the best book so far on the financial crisis":

    Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist, is knowledgeable about the historical background, immersed in the policy debate and a pioneer of the economic theories needed to understand the origins of the problems. Although the material is necessarily difficult at times, the book is also easy to read. It is therefore indispensable not just for those who (like me) are broadly sympathetic to the Stiglitz position but for those who would rebut these charges.

    Stiglitz's account begins in the 1980s, the decade of deregulation and privatisation. The symbol of these changes for financial markets was the replacement of Paul Volcker by Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. This set the way for light regulation of the banking system and created a willingness to respond to any market setback with a relaxation of monetary policy -- the "Greenspan put". These developments were not the result of policy oversight but of policy design. Conservatives and Wall Street got the policy framework they had sought (more...)

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