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A. McGuire "Alec McGuire" (Leeds, England)
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The Jung-Kirsch Letters: The Correspondence of C.G. Jung and James Kirsch
The Jung-Kirsch Letters: The Correspondence of C.G. Jung and James Kirsch
by C. G. Jung
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £80.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating sidelights on Jung, 8 Aug 2011
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It becomes clearer by the year how much of Jung's writings and ephemera have yet to be published. That we should have had to wait so long for his correspondence with Victor White The Jung-White Letters (Philemon Series) is almost scandalous, given what it reveals of Jung's thinking and personality. The Red Book The Red Book: Liber Novus is slightly different, being a very private work, but it very definitely shows us Jung's development in a new light. Jungians will continue to wait impatiently for the remaining Seminars and for a translation of "Modern Psychology", as well as whatever else may yet see the light of day.

This volume, covering over 30 years of correspondence between Jung and James Kirsch, is perhaps not quite in the same league of importance. Indeed, the letters are far more to Jung rather than from Jung. Even so, they are revealing in their way: both about how Jung was perceived, and also about Jung's attitude towards the Jewish faith. Jung is sometimes accused of being anti-semitic; here Kirsch, himself a Jew, works hard to dispel that idea, and Jung affirms his support for Jewish people.

I can't help wondering whether Kirsch was so dazzled by Jung that he tried to fit his perceptions to Jung's even when they were in fact different. It certainly appears both that Kirsch was proud of his faith and heritage, and wished to defend them, and also that his dialogue with Jung had led him to suppose that he had a problem in the way he regarded his religion.

Different readers will no doubt come to different conclusions, but that there is material here of value to all Jungian therapists and analysts can hardly be gainsaid. If it is not absolutely essential reading, it certainly is very worthwhile. The editor and translators deserve our thanks.


The Works of Anthony Trollope
The Works of Anthony Trollope

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please punctuate... but..., 15 July 2011
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There is a hyperlinked set of contents, though it's not easy to find.

The main problem is the text, which always hasn't been proof-read. There are long sentences with no punctuation, leading to bizarre results and occasional incomprehensibility, and there are sentences which end and start again in the middle ("He went into. The house where she was living and saw the results the results of her idleness.." is the sort of thing.) If you are quick-minded enough to see what the reading should be, then it's just an irritation, though for some people it will make the text quite impossible to read.

To be fair, the punctuation problem varies from book to book, and some are virtually error-free while others are nearly unreadable. What the percentage is of good/bad I can't honestly yet say, but the problem certainly isn't as serious as it first seemed, though it's troubling enough when you're faced with it.

On the other hand, you are getting the complete works for £[], which is still a huge bargain. "You get what you pay for" comes to mind.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2011 10:35 PM BST


The Popes: A History
The Popes: A History
by John Julius Norwich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.80

41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best, 24 April 2011
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This review is from: The Popes: A History (Hardcover)
Viscount Norwich has written many history books, and his skill as a writer is evident in all of them.
In this work, he is writing more as a compiler than as a direct researcher: he is very dependent on the works of others for his facts - something he fully acknowledges-, and though he overlays these with his own views and his great narrative skill, that dependence on others shows in this book more than usually. Given the range of material he has had to work through, it would be astonishing if he had time to assess the value of everything he uses, and to check the facts that he passes on. Sad to say, too many factual errors have slipped through for comfort.
The following are chosen just for illustration, rather than with any aim of completeness. Luke is not regarded as the first evangelist by any reputable scholar. Nor is Polycarp "suspected" of writing the Pauline epistles, or any of them. Norwich writes that he can find no church in Perugia dedicated to S. Lorenzo; it's the duomo (cathedral), as thirty seconds with Google will reveal.
Then, he says that Victor II is buried in the Mausoleum of Theodoric at Ravenna. This is an interesting one, because it is repeated over and over as a "fact" by multiple authors, all of whom rely on a single report that his body was laid there to avoid trouble - which may just mean a temporary stay. So one can't totally blame Norwich for repeating it: but none of these scholars have checked what is available about the Mausoleum. If they had, they'd soon find the truth: the Mausoleum of Theodoric is empty, and has been for some hundreds of years. It has got a beautiful porphyry coffin, true; but the absence of a lid means any visitor can see for themselves that the guidebooks are right. It's not clear if anyone has ever been buried there, but there's no-one at home now, nor is there any clue I'm aware of as to where Victor II's body is.
This lack of care is uncharacteristic of Norwich, but it does mean that the book can't be relied on. He's generally fine on the Popes that he writes about at length, but those he skips over he did skip over, so to speak.
For a reliable and very readable book, one can do worse than do as he did, and read Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (Yale Nota Bene) which is one of his sources.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2011 12:08 PM GMT


Drawing Conclusions: (Brunetti 20)
Drawing Conclusions: (Brunetti 20)
by Donna Leon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.32

72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Leon, but not obviously..., 23 April 2011
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An old woman is found dead; it appears to be natural causes - a heart attack; except there are a few marks on the corpse which aren't absolutely consonant with that verdict. Brunetti can't ignore them, and is led into an investigation which leads to a dreadful evil behind the death.
If you want thrills and fast action, look elsewhere. To do that, though, would be a shame, because the way Leon tells the story exactly parallels the nature of the crime and the evil: they're hidden things, things society would sooner ignore, things which require careful vision to see.
So the investigation unfolds gently, slowly and not always obviously; yet always inexorably, until we are brought, with Brunetti, to the truth, and the central evil of the book.
It would be a shame if a writer of Donna Leon's class were condemned to write variations on a theme, as so many crime writers do. Each of her books has a different register; she is ready to try new ways of writing and unfolding a plot. And that means, inevitably, that not every one of her fans will like each book. Yet, to me at least, this one is a gem: understated but vital, and never after effect for the sake of effect. So what if Patta et al take a back seat? That's what this story requires, so that's how Leon writes it.
Ignore the nay-sayers and see for yourself...


Codex Sinaiticus: A Facsimile
Codex Sinaiticus: A Facsimile
by British Library Publishing
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £457.40

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite an alpha, 20 Jan 2011
This is a big book, both in the importance of its contents, and in its dimensions (it's 18 inches high, 4 inches wide and 15 inches deep). It's also heavy, inevitably, and that leads to my first concern - whether the binding is strong enough. There was an ominous cracking sound when I first opened the book (on a table - it's the only way to read it), and I do wonder how long the gathers will hold together.

The photography is good and the text is mostly very readable. I read my way through most of John's Gospel without any difficulty. There are passages which are faint, including a few which are illegible; but that reflects the state of the original.

With it there comes a rather flimsy pamphlet, containing an index linking each page to the biblical book, chapter and verse that begins the page. Since this is going to be used extensively if you actually want to have the facsimile as a working resource rather than a talking point, then it needs to be robust. It too should be in hard covers, and given the price of this book it is a bit of an insult to the purchaser that it isn't.

There is also very (and I mean very) little in the way of introductory material in the pamphlet. To do justice to the codex would require a separate volume, and there are plenty of books that give that material, so the British Library can't be expected to explain the full background. What can be expected however is the sort of description of the original that is usual in an academic facsimile, and its absence is, again, less than courteous to the purchaser.

To be able to have a copy of the codex for oneself is marvellous, and the publishers deserve full thanks for that, but the pamphlet spoils, and the binding may perhaps yet spoil, what is otherwise a splendid achievment. So a beta plus, rather than an alpha.


Rugby League's Greatest Ever Tries [DVD]
Rugby League's Greatest Ever Tries [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Burke

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor presentation spoils some outstanding rugby., 19 Jan 2011
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There are wonderful tries on offer here, but they are not that well served by this DVD.
Each try is shown with between 10 and 20 seconds of footage, with the average appearing to be about 12 seconds, and the footage is accompanied with the original soundtrack. Most tries are shown once only - fairly few replays even in the era of Superleague.
Given how much screen space TV companies now take up with their logos, etc, would it have been beyond the possibilities of science to indicate on screen the name of the player who's scored? Most of the players of the last ten years you'll recognise, but maybe some of those from earlier eras have slipped from recall, so you are dependent on the commentary to identify who's scored. How do you do that in twelve seconds when the soundtrack isn't clear or doesn't even name the player, and the camera doesn't show the players face? Some tries from the black and white TV era will only be recognised by the most avid of fans.
The other annoyance is this DVD has an "A-Z feature". Good, I thought, it'll make finding a player's tries easy. It doesn't. The A-Z refers to sections of the DVD with titles like "juggling", "in-and-out", mud, glorious mud", "newcomers", and so on. There's no rhyme or reason to the choice of these. Between each of these sections there's a twenty-second montage of assorted images, but only two or three montages are used. By the time you've sat through the same montage half-a-dozen times, you wonder what the point is, and the montages take up over 10 minutes of the DVD.
There is no way of identifying where any player's or any clubs tries are - something which really would be worth having.
Don't get me wrong - this DVD has a feast of great tries, from Billy Boston down to Sam Burgess, and they are all worth watching. It brought back many memories, and I'll certainly watch it again. It's just that this DVD could have been so much better - it does a fair bit of disservice to the great play and players that are on show.


Schubert: Nacht und Traume - Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition Vol.5
Schubert: Nacht und Traume - Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition Vol.5
Price: £13.93

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Below par?, 19 Jan 2011
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Matthias Goerne has long shown himself to be a superb interpreter of lied in general and Schubert in particular, and his skill is fully evident in this CD. Yet the result doesn't delight this listener quite as much as it used to.
Goerne, is like all of us, getting older, and it is a feature of many baritones that over time their tessitura becomes closer and closer to a bass; indeed, it is arguable that Goerne now is a bass and not even a bass-baritone. His upper range is less flexible and expressive than it used to be. He exercises every bit as much control as he ever did, and his singing is as carefully considered as always, but his top range no longer delivers the goods quite so well.
Compare his earlier version of Die Schone Mullerin Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin with his more recent recording Schubert: Die Schone Mullerin - Matthias Goerne / Christoph Eschenbach (Schubert Edition Vol.3) and this becomes particularly evident.
On the other hand, the power and force of his bass register is now outstanding. Perhaps he needs to start reconsidering his approach.
The main weaknesses of this recording, however, are elsewhere. First, there is Alexander Schmalcz's accompaniment, which while competent and workman-like rarely raises itself above that level, and, secondly, the close-miking which makes Goerne's intake of breath far too audible (it's present on some of his earlier recordings, but never to this degree) and at times positively distracting.
Goerne's skill still makes this CD worth listening to, but it can't be counted as one of his best recordings. Even Homer nods.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2011 6:20 PM GMT


The Flight of the Earls
The Flight of the Earls
by John McCavitt
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity., 19 Jan 2011
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We are told in the introductory pages that this book evolved from academic research, but has now been turned into an account for the general reader. That may have been the aim, but it certainly doesn't succeed.
McCavitt spends a lot of time discussing the dynamics at work behind the actions of the Earls and their supporters, the political background, the motivations of those involved, etc. So there is a much analysis, and no doubt that has been well-considered.
Yet, even though this book is said to have been pitched at the general reader, it still reads as an academic work written for academics. Its analysis is certainly exhausting long before one knows how far it is exhaustive.
However, the general reader tends to appreciate being told what happened; but there is precious little narrative history on offer here. Without adequate narrative, then the non-specialist simply can not make much use of the analysis. Even those with an awareness of Irish history will need to know the writer's account of the narrative before they can judge how far the analysis is faithful to the historical reality.
The Flight of the Earls is a significant moment in Irish history. It deserves much better treatment than it gets here.


By Nightfall
By Nightfall
by Michael Cunningham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Archetypal Cunningham, 19 Jan 2011
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This review is from: By Nightfall (Hardcover)
As other reviewers have said, this isn't a "big" book. It centres round the relationships between three people, and the consequences of a moment of sexual ambiguity. Themes of beauty, using others and being used by others, deception and betrayal are played out on a small canvas.
What makes the book special is, first, the quality of Cunningham's observation. He has an intensity of perception that makes even the most minor detail come alive with significance. He understands the untidiness of life and relationships, and how things can evolve from moment to moment, and he draws us in to the tension between the uniqueness of individuals and their ordinariness.
The other thing that makes the book rewarding is the quality of his writing; the power to observe is useless unless a writer can make us share what he perceives. Of that, Cunningham is a master, as he has shown in every one of his books. His language is simple, even plain, but his sentences are constructed with a skill and care that makes that simplicity shine with beauty, and serve as a vehicle for the most complex of insights. He must surely be one of the finest authors working today.
Highly recomended.


Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us
Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us
by Ferdinand Mount
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.48

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hardly an argument, 20 Dec 2010
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Ferdinand Mount is a writer of considerable ability and facility, and this makes it easy for him to put together a catena of more and less accurate facts and observations and offer it as if it were a justifiable thesis or as a set of insights.

Far from being either of those, it is a collection of weak correlations masquerading as scholarship. He says that the modern world has striking similarities with the ancient world, yet feels free to ignore the fact that the classical world covers several hundred years of complex history and includes widely differing cultures. Take a big enough time-frame and geographical spread, decide not to be too careful about the criteria for similarity, and write in vague, generalising terms and you can always find apparent parallels between any age & culture and any other.

If a work like this was submitted to a publisher by a writer who hasn't got Mount's cachet then the only outcome would be a rejection slip. Quite simply, it is impossible to take Mount's book seriously.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2011 12:49 AM GMT


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