Books

Was Bach as boring as this picture suggests?

26 October 2013 9:00 am

What, one wonders, will John Eliot Gardiner be chiefly remembered for? Perhaps, by many who have worked with him, for…

Does the world need 17 volumes of Hemingway's letters?

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘In the years since 1961 Hemingway’s reputation as “the outstanding author since the death of Shakespeare” shrank to the extent…

Italo Calvino's essays, Collection of Sand, is a brainy delight

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The Japanese are sometimes said to suffer from ‘outsider person shock’ (gaijin shokku) when travelling abroad. Recently in London we…

Hitler didn't start indiscriminate bombings — Churchill did 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘I cannot describe to you what a curious note of brutality a bomb has,’ said one woman who lived through…

My dear old thing! Forget the nasty bits

26 October 2013 9:00 am

There can be a strong strain of self-parody in even the greatest commentators. When Henry Blofeld describes the progress of…

'If I can barely speak, then I shall surely sing'

26 October 2013 9:00 am

A few weeks ago, I was wandering with a friend around West London when our conversation turned to the reliable…

Clash of the titans

26 October 2013 9:00 am

This is an odd book: interesting, informative, intelligent, but still decidedly odd. It is a history of the Victorian era…

Malala's voice is defiant — but how much can she change Pakistan? 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

In 2012 a Taleban gunman, infuriated by Malala Yousafzai’s frequent television appearances insisting that girls had a right to education,…

#Onyourmarks! What is the formal name for the hashtag? 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

One day there simply won’t be any strange byways of the English language left to write quirky little books about.…

Books and Arts

26 October 2013 9:00 am

On your marks…

24 October 2013 2:00 pm

One day there simply won’t be any strange byways of the English language left to write quirky little books about.…

On your marks…

24 October 2013 2:00 pm

One day there simply won’t be any strange byways of the English language left to write quirky little books about.…

How to avoid bankers in your nativity scene

19 October 2013 9:00 am

In the vast Benedictine monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore between Siena and Rome, the cycle of frescoes depicting the life…

A badger eats, squats, thieves. But should we cull them?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

Lord Arran was responsible for the bill to legalise homosexuality and a bill to protect badgers from gassing and terrier-baiting.…

How to get old without getting boring

19 October 2013 9:00 am

When one notices the first symptoms of senile dementia (forgetting names, trying to remember the purpose of moving from one…

The Rothschilds, the Spenders, the Queen...

19 October 2013 9:00 am

The novelist David Plante is French-Québécois by ancestry, grew up in a remote Francophone parish in Yankee New England and…

After the war — apocalypse

19 October 2013 9:00 am

On 12 April 1945 the Berlin Philharmonic gave its last performance. The atmosphere in Germany was apocalyptic, the Allied invasion…

Helen Fielding has lost her touch

19 October 2013 9:00 am

To understand quite how disgruntled the reviews of the latest Bridget Jones diaries have been, you have to recall quite…

When 'drop-dead gorgeous' women actually dropped dead

19 October 2013 9:00 am

No one watches Antiques Roadshow for the antiques. Instead we’re hanging on the punter’s reaction to his three-grand valuation. ‘It…

The Labour education secretary who could have been Britain's first woman PM

19 October 2013 9:00 am

Decent, clever, charming, eloquent, hard-working, conscientious and terribly, terribly nice, Shirley Williams is one of Britain’s best-loved politicians. Mark Peel’s…

What makes someone the fastest man on earth?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

What makes someone the fastest man on earth? The current tenant of the informal title held by such sporting icons…

Graham Nash in London, 1970

Wild Tales: The book to make any Spectator reader weep

19 October 2013 9:00 am

We all know that if you can remember the Sixties you weren’t really there. But Graham Nash, of the Hollies,…

'Bauklotzartigewortzusammensetzung'

19 October 2013 9:00 am

Mark Twain had a notoriously thorny relationship with German, a language he gamely tried to conquer. His main beef was…

Jonathan Mirsky and his whippet, Iris, with the Dalai Lama

Is your dog enjoying more than physical exercise when you walk him?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

Skip this book if you dislike dogs, or even if you are indifferent to them, or echo an acquaintance of…

What happens when journalists take sides

19 October 2013 9:00 am

This is a curious book. Its title and the name of its publisher suggest that it is going to be…