Daniel Swift

Brutus’s betrayal is a tragic inevitability. The soothsayer warns Julius Caesar to ‘Beware the Ides of March’, in a 19th-century wood engraving by Sir John Gilbert

Has Shakespeare become the mascot of Brexit Britain?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

The deployment of Shakespeare to describe Brexit is by now a cliché. It might take the form of a quotation,…

Why were the Victorians so obsessed with the moon?

6 April 2019 9:00 am

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a group of slightly ramshackle workmen decide to put on a play. The play…

Credit: Ian Hill

The Australian James Joyce: the novels of Gerald Murnane reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Gerald Murnane is the kind of writer literary critics adore. His novels have little in the way of plot or…

The Earl of Southampton, to whom Shakespeare dedicated ‘The Rape of Lucrece’. [Getty]

Shakespeare as political pamphleteer

1 December 2018 9:00 am

Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece is a puzzling and often terrible poem. Lucrece, the devout wife of Collatine, is raped by…

Shakespeare’s Richard III is ‘pathologically narcissistic, supremely arrogant, born into wealth and a bully’

Donald Trump: a Shakespearean tyrant to a T

9 June 2018 9:00 am

‘What country, friends, is this?’ asks Viola at the start of Twelfth Night. She is shipwrecked and heartbroken; she does…

The changing face of war and heroism

14 April 2018 9:00 am

On War and Writing by Samuel Hynes is hardly about war at all. There is little about combat here, or…

The interior of the Swan Theatre, Southwark, in 1596, based on a sketch by a Dutch traveller, Johannes de Witt, and probably the best indicator of what the Globe Theatre would have looked like.

William Shakespeare: all things to all men

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Who’s there? Shakespeare’s most famous play opens with this slightly hokey line, and the question remains for his countless audiences,…

Karl Ove Knausgaard describes nothing happening — wonderfully

12 March 2016 9:00 am

It is hard to explain the contents of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s vast series My Struggle because not much happens. Or…

Hide and seek with T.S. Eliot

12 December 2015 9:00 am

When The Waste Land first appeared, there were rumours that it was a hoax. It seemed so strange: 400 lines…

‘Doorways to the unknown’: Clive James’s Latest Readings

22 August 2015 9:00 am

In the preface to his great collection of essays The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden claimed: ‘I prefer a critic’s notebooks…

Helen Vendler is full of condescending waffle (and not just when she’s attacking me)

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Is it possible to tell a good poem from a bad one? To put the question another way: are there…

Pricking the pomp of American society

4 July 2015 9:00 am

It doesn’t mean much to say that Renata Adler’s journalism isn’t as interesting as her novels — almost nothing is…

Edward Thomas: the prolific hack (who wrote a book review every three days for 14 years) turned to poetry just in time

23 May 2015 9:00 am

Edward Thomas was gloomy as Eeyore. In 1906 he complained to a friend that his writing ‘was suffering more &…

Tom Eliot — a very practical cat. Did T.S. Eliot simply recycle every personal experience into poetry?

31 January 2015 9:00 am

The musical Cats reopened in the West End in December, with a judge from The X Factor in the lead…

Lance Sieveking (right) with Colonel G.L. Thompson broadcasting a running commentary on the final bumping race from a tree in Rectory Meadow, Cambridge, June 1927

'One warm night in June 1917 I became the man who nearly killed the Kaiser'

1 March 2014 9:00 am

The traditional story told about the first world war is that it changed everything: that it was the end of…