Ruth Scurr

Welcome back to Gilead: Margaret Atwood’s triumphant reclaiming of her work

21 September 2019 9:00 am

‘Penises,’ Aunt Lydia muses, ‘them again.’ Penises are always causing trouble, even in the God-fearing dystopian state of Gilead. The…

The outcome of Diderot’s discussions with Catherine was that she largely ignored his advice. Engraving from François Guizot’s Histoire de la France

How Diderot’s pleas to end despotism fell on deaf ears in Russia

23 March 2019 9:00 am

Denis Diderot (1713–84) is the least commemorated of the philosophes. Calls for his remains to be moved to the Panthéon…

Who needs a plot? asks Anne Tyler

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Willa Drake’s second husband calls her ‘little one’, even though she is over 60 and the mother of two grown…

An intense conversation about life, love and writing with Deborah Levy

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Deborah Levy draws her epigraph for The Cost of Living from Marguerite Duras’s Practicalities: ‘You’re always more unreal to yourself…

Laura Freeman reads her way out of anorexia

24 February 2018 9:00 am

It is hard to be honest about anorexia. The illness breeds deceit and distortion: ‘It thrives on looking-glass logic. It…

From blissful dawn to bleak despair: the end of the revolutionary dream

4 November 2017 9:00 am

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey were undergraduates when they met in June 1794, Coleridge at Cambridge university and Southey…

Le Clézio’s The Prospector: from tropical beaches to the trenches of the Somme

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It is not easy to avoid clichés when writing about J.M.G. Le Clézio. Born in Nice in 1940, the recipient…

Ford Madox Brown celebrates 17th-century advances in science in his painting ‘William Crabtree watches the Transit of Venus in 1639’

A.C. Grayling reduces history to a game of quidditch

12 March 2016 9:00 am

It is very difficult to uncover accurate connections between ideas and events in history. A.C. Grayling is a philosopher and…

Jonathan Coe’s raucous social satire smoulders with anger

14 November 2015 9:00 am

When Rachel, one of the unreliable narrators of Number 11, wants to ‘go back to the very beginning’, she starts…

Flamboyant intellectuals: René Descartes (main picture) and Bernard-Henri Lévy (below), in 1978

Liberty, philosophy and 246 types of cheese

20 June 2015 9:00 am

Sudhir Hazareesingh’s bold new book is built on the assumption that ‘it is possible to make meaningful generalisations about the…

A sombre Irish family saga — that glows in the dark

9 May 2015 9:00 am

The Green Road is a novel in two parts about leaving and returning home. A big house called Ardeevin, walking…

When the money ran out, so did the idealism in post-Revolutionary France

21 February 2015 9:00 am

For his holiday reading in the summer of 1835, the literary and political journalist John Wilson Croker packed the printed…

Haunted by the Holocaust: Three novellas by Patrick Modiano

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Earlier this year Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for the art of memory with which he has…