Ruth Scurr

Too many of our children are battling severe depression

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Christopher Hitchens once said that women just aren’t as funny as men and Caitlin Moran believed him. But that was…

The grisly art of Revolutionary France

28 March 2020 9:00 am

There was a basket of thick red wool and two pairs of large knitting needles at the start of University…

A dark emerald set in the Irish laureate’s fictional tiara: Actress, by Anne Enright, reviewed

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Actress is the novel Anne Enright has been rehearsing since her first collection of stories, The Portable Virgin (1991). It…

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

The 17th century scores highly  — especially England’s part in it — in A.C. Grayling’s ‘points system’ of history. If only the study of the past were that simple, says Ruth Scurr

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

The French have always favoured grand, elegant abstractions about the human condition, says Ruth Scurr. It’s part of their national identity

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

Why did the French Revolution go so wrong, descending into a frenzied bloodbath in just five years? Because by 1794 all trust had vanished, and the country had literally run out of cash, explains Ruth Scurr

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…