Philip Hensher

Jordan Peterson is the Savonarola of our times

20 March 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher feels he should be on Jordan Peterson’s side, but finds it a struggle

Imagining a future for John Keats — the novelist

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Keats is a much stranger poet than we tend to realise – who shocked his first readers by his vulgarity and gross indecency, says Philip Hensher

Dolly Parton represents all that’s best about America

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Dolly Parton is the living embodiment of America’s best values, says Philip Hensher

Labyrinthine tales: We All Hear Stories in the Dark, by Robert Shearman, reviewed

19 December 2020 9:00 am

When the estimable Andy Miller, the host of the Backlisted podcast, recommended a new collection of short stories on Twitter,…

Harold Bloom finally betrays how little he really understood literature

21 November 2020 9:00 am

Harold Bloom devoted his life to literature – but he had little feeling for words, says Philip Hensher

De Profundis: the agony of filming Oscar Wilde’s last years

10 October 2020 9:00 am

Philip Hensher admires a witty account of the horrors of modern film-making

Hitler’s admiration has severely damaged Wagner’s reputation

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Wagner gripped the communal mind for decades after his death. Philip Hensher examines his enduring influence

How do we greet one another today?

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Conversation is a fascinating subject, says Philip Hensher – but very few people get it right

The genuine polymath is still one in a million

16 May 2020 9:00 am

With unlimited information just a click away, everyone can pass as a polymath today, says Philip Hensher

Short stories to enjoy in lockdown

2 May 2020 9:00 am

In these circumstances there’s a temptation to reach for the longest novel imaginable. If you’re not going to read Proust…

The cult of Sappho in interwar Paris

18 April 2020 9:00 am

Philip Hensher describes how Paris became a magnet for literary-minded lesbians in the early 20th century – where they soon caused quite a stir

Gustav Mahler’s bid for greatness: the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Gustav Mahler was a passionate enthusiast for the colossal in music. Even so, his mighty eighth symphony stands apart, says Philip Hensher

Babies are aware of bilingualism from birth — if not before

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

Probably most of the world is bilingual, or more than bilingual. It is common in many countries to speak a…

Lydia Davis, like an inspirational teacher, tempts her readers into more reading

7 December 2019 9:00 am

A good indicator of just how interesting and alluring Lydia Davis’s Essays proved might be my recent credit card statement.…

Vladimir Nabokov confesses to butterflies in the stomach

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Not every novelist has opinions. Some of the greatest have a touch of the idiot savant, such as Adalbert Stifter,…

The concluding volume of Charles Moore’s life of Margaret Thatcher is – as its predecessors are – a triumph

19 October 2019 9:00 am

This outstanding biography comes to an end, not in an atmosphere of triumph and achievement, but in a welter of…

Ian McEwan’s anti-Brexit satire is a damp squib

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Kafka wrote a novella, The Metamorphosis, about a man who finds himself transformed into a beetle. Now Ian McEwan has…

No one held Susan Sontag in higher esteem than she did: Her Life reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Towards the end of this tale of imperial intellectual expansion, Susan Sontag’s publicist goes to visit his shrink and, dealing…

Not far fom the Dozier School, a small cemetery with 31 metal crosses is thought to contain further unmarked graves of children murdered by the staff

America’s brutal borstals: The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Novelists will always be interested in enclosed communities — or the ‘total institution’, as sociologists say. When you separate a…

Polari, the secret gay argot, is making a surprising comeback

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Imagine you’re a gay man living in the year 1950. Not unnaturally, you would like to meet another gay man.…

Toy theatres on the stage: the set designs of Maurice Sendak

1 June 2019 9:00 am

I must have seen hundreds of opera productions in my time. Out of these, hardly any made a lasting impression…

Not all British memsahibs were racist snobs

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Despite efforts to prevent them, British women formed a part of the Indian empire almost from the start. Although the…

Michael Tippett at home at Parkside, Corsham, Wilts with the score of his second piano sonata

Time for a Tippett revival

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Running the entire course of the 20th century, Michael Tippett’s life (1905–1998) was devoted to innovation. He was an English…

A clear vision of Walter Gropius the man is hard to come by

2 March 2019 9:00 am

Walter Gropius (1883–1969) had the career that the 20th century inflicted on its architects. A master of the previous generation…

‘The Break-up of the Ice’ by Claude Monet

How Calouste Gulbenkian became the richest man in the world

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Whenever I find myself visiting some great historic house, I always like to break off from gawping at tapestries to…