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1978 / March | View All Issues |

March 1978

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Harper’s international travel planner 1978·

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Letters

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The easy chair

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“La Comédie humaine”·

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Article

18-20, 22-23 PDF

The Palestinian dilemma·

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Can Israel be liberated from its conquests?

Poetry

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Gone·

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Article

Front cover, 85-92, 94, 97-105 PDF

The subterranean world of the bomb·

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Article

106-109 PDF

Wish you were here·

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Fiction

110, 113-116 PDF

The Village·

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A story

In our time

117 PDF

New frontiers in education·

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High school civics

In our time

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In our time·

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Books

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Dubious hindsight·

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Books

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O Kipling, my Kipling·

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Books in brief

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American miscellany

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American miscellany·

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Puzzle

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I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:

The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
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Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

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“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
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“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
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“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
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“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.”
Artwork by Julie Cockburn

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.

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