Dennis Duncan

Is writing now changing the world for the worse?

3 February 2024 9:00 am

Humanity’s great civilising accomplishment may have slipped the leash. Computer programs and surveillance also involve ‘writing’, potentially making us decreasingly human

The getting of wisdom

22 April 2023 9:00 am

Inherited knowledge saved the indigenous Andaman islanders from the 2004 tsunami. But how will fast-changing data affect our judgment?

Man of many parts

18 February 2023 9:00 am

The learning on display in this latest Collected Non-Fiction is as astonishing as ever – though ‘B-sides and Rarities’ might describe the more marginal pieces

Use it or lose it: has the public library had its day?

30 October 2021 9:00 am

I write this in a garret a few doors down from the public library in Muswell Hill, north London. It…

Written in blood or bound in human skin: the world’s weirdest books

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Dennis Duncan enjoys some of the world’s most bizarre books

How to organise everything — Judith Flanders’s history of finding things

1 February 2020 9:00 am

In the middle of the last century, Robert Collison, one of the founders of the Society of Indexers, addressed himself…

‘The Bibliophile’, by Johann Hamza (1850–1921)

From bibliomania to kleptomania: the serious crimes of book lovers

29 June 2019 9:00 am

In the spring of 1998, Rolling Stones fans in Germany were disappointed to hear that the band had been forced…

The serious games of the Oulipians

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Have you heard of the Oulipo? The long-running Parisian workshop for experimental writing? Even if you haven’t, you might have…

Wall painting of waterfowl flying out of the reeds, with papyrus on the left. From the tomb of Akhenaten, c. 1375 BC

Treasures from Ancient Egypt’s wastepaper baskets

9 February 2019 9:00 am

In 2016, after some unseemly back-and-forth between the Commons and Lords, it was decided that Acts of Parliament should no…

Hernando Columbus deserves to be as famous as his father, Christopher

12 May 2018 9:00 am

On 9 May 1502, a young Spaniard joined the fleet setting sail for the newly discovered Americas. The boy, Hernando,…