New and Noteworthy

Contemporary Review, August 2003 | Go to article overview

New and Noteworthy


Eric Kennington remains one of Britain's most influential twentieth century sculptors. In The Sculpture of Eric Kennington (60.00 [pounds sterling]), published by LUND HUMPHRIES in association with the Henry Moore Foundation, the author, Jonathan Black, argues that Kennington 'sought to create accessible works of public art in a broadly modernist idiom'. His greatest work, the author claims, is his recumbent, Crusader-inspired effigy of T. E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia') in the parish church of St Martin in Wareham, Dorset. Surprisingly, this is the first book on Kennington's sculpture. It combines numerous illustrations with a biography, an artistic appreciation and a complete catalogue of his works. Sadly Kennington has been superseded amongst the intelligentsia by what passes for sculpture in modern Britain. One hopes that this excellent book will help to restore the work of Eric Kennington to the place it deserves.

From WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON we have What is Good? The Search for the Best way to Live (18.99 [pounds sterling]) by A. C. Grayling, a philosophy don at St Anne's College, Oxford and Birkbeck College, London. In a study devised for the 'general reader' Mr Grayling shows that philosophy can be relevant to real life. His aim is 'to introduce some of the best of what has been thought and said about the most important question facing mankind'. His method is both chronological and conceptual and he begins, appropriately enough, with Classical Greece. He concludes that the best answer to the question of 'What is good?' 'can only be: "The considered life--free, creative, informed and chosen, a life of achievement and fulfillment, of pleasure and understanding, of love and friendship in short, the best human life in a human world, humanely lived"'.

J. M. DENT in its 'Everyman' series has brought out a new, abridged edition of David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (8.99 [pounds sterling]) edited by J. P. Wright, Robert Stecker and Gary Fuller of Central Michigan University. Hume's fast book was published in parts between 1739 and 1740. Despite its poor reception, the Treatise remains, in the editors' words, 'his most profound philosophical work'. Hume's text is not easy to edit because the author later rejected some of his youthful arguments. Where this is the case the editors have removed affected passages. They have also removed some repetitive passages as well as certain entire sections in Books II and III. In compensation they have given readers a helpful introduction, useful notes and a valuable appendix on 'Hume and His Critics'.

In The Mapmakers' Quest: Depicting New Worlds in Renaissance Europe, published by OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS (20.00 [pounds sterling]) the author, Professor David Buisseret, is concerned with the development of maps in late mediaeval Europe. In 1400 Britain and Europe were far behind Japan and China in the production and use of maps. By 1700, 'Europe had drawn ahead of the rest of the world in virtually every kind of mapping'. British and European expansion, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, meant that this predominance had world-wide effects. Professor Buisseret agrees with earlier scholars' conclusions that mediaeval use of maps was far more complex than was earlier thought. He arranges his survey in a basically chronological format and in each period covered shows that map-making was always part of the social history of the period, whether it was concerned with extending government power or enhancing trade. …

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