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Weekly Round-Up: Piketty Redux, Nonsense in Kilts, Seeking the Self, The Map ISIS Hate, What Humanists Do, and Eliot/Groucho

The Oxonian Review presents the Weekly Round-Up, featuring articles the editorial staff have found interesting, illuminating, or otherwise noteworthy.

1. “Benjamin Kunkel: ‘Paupers and Richlings’“, The London Review of Books; “Stephen Marche: ‘The Literature of the Second Gilded Age’“, The Los Angeles Review of Books: Two new takes on the Piketty thesis. Kunkel sees Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a worthy attempt to recover “the scope of political economy without forfeiting the quantitative rigour of contemporary economics”, but one which is ultimately lacking in ambition. Marche advances from Piketty’s “insistence that the turmoil of capitalism is a human turmoil, within the control of human beings”, and his admiring references to Austen and Balzac, towards an exploration of the novel’s unique ability to depict ‘the way we live now’.

2. “John McDermott: ‘Should Scotland go its own way?’“, Financial Times: Gordon Brown marshals some weighty arguments in his impressive book on the independence debate, while the novelist Alasdair Gray is all vapid assertions. “The idea that Scots are completely different from other people in Britain is nonsense in kilts.”

3. “Jim Holt: ‘Is there such a thing as the self?’“, Prospect: What do the philosophers and the scientists have to tell us about the self? “The basic question about the self is: what, in essence, am I?”

4. “Malise Ruthven: ‘The Map ISIS Hates’“, New York Review of Books: Ruthven argues that “to the extent that foreign powers are driving the situation [in Syria and Iraq], the underlying dynamic flows less from the West than from the rivalry between the Sunni monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf on one side and Shiite Iran on the other.”

5. “Denis Donoghue: ‘What Humanists Do’“, Daedalus: A humanist reflects on the humanities, via T.S. Eliot, Northrop Frye, Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt, T.J. Clark, Kenneth Burke, J. Hillis Miller, Lionel Trilling, Stanley Fish… “Humanists haven’t got a paradigm; there is no model or example that indicates what we should be doing, what we should be reading or arguing about.”

6. “Lee Siegel: ‘The Fraught Friendship of T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx’“, The New Yorker: What an unlikely correspondence tells us about both men.

If you would like to suggest a link, please email fergus.mcghee[at]hmc.ox.ac.uk