Henry Fielding

This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. The second "Mad Men" episode of this season, "Christmas Comes But Once a Year," finds nearly all the major characters grappling with growing feelings of powerlessness. Basically, those people who have clout get the presents, and those who don't wind up humiliating themselves in a goofy red suit.

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The Animator

Charles Dickens Michael Slater Yale University Press, 696 pp., $35 I. For a long time, everyone has known that Paris was the capital of the nineteenth century, the city where the modern was invented: the society of the spectacular. But everyone was wrong. The capital of the nineteenth century was London. Think about it. Walter Benjamin’s symbol of the Parisian modern was the arcade. The arcade! In London-according to the social campaigner Henry Mayhew, there were 300,000 dustbins, 300,000 cesspools, and three million chimneys.

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The Forgotten Formalist

Hugo Black: A Biography by Roger K. Newman (Pantheon, 741 pp., $30) On February 17, 1960, at New York University, Justice Hugo Black defended his judicial philosophy against the sneers of Felix Frankfurter and Learned Hand. "Some people regard the prohibitions of the Constitution ... as mere admonitions which Congress need not always observe," said Black in backhanded response to Hand's lectures at Harvard two years earlier. This approach, which "comes close to the English doctrine of legislative omnipotence," Black could not accept.

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