Books

Bertrand Russell was portrayed as Mr Apollinax by T.S. Eliot, wittering incomprehensibly and laughing ‘like an irresponsible foetus’

Oddballs of English philosophy

25 May 2019 9:00 am

Charles Kay Ogden once proposed that conversations would be conducted more efficiently if participants wore masks. Apart from confirming the…

Zuzana Ruzicková. Credit: Getty Images

Bach helped me survive Bergen-Belsen

25 May 2019 9:00 am

One of the great joys of the 18th-century novella La petite maison is the way Jean-François de Bastide matches the…

Geoffrey Hill. Credit: Peter Everard Smith

Last lines on Brexit from Geoffrey Hill

25 May 2019 9:00 am

In 2012 OUP published Geoffrey Hill’s Collected Poems; they could have waited, because they’re now going to need another edition.…

Boer refugees were herded by the British into cattle trucks to be shunted into concentration camps at Bloemfontein in 1901. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Brutish Brits: You Will Be Safe Here, by Damian Barr, reviewed

25 May 2019 9:00 am

Damian Barr explains the upsetting genesis of his impressive debut novel, You Will Be Safe Here, in his acknowledgements: This…

Letitia at the height of her fame in 1825. H.W. Pickersgill’s original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy

The celebrated poet who’s been erased from English literature

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Biographers are a shady lot. For all their claims about immortalising someone in print, as if their ink were a…

Sandra Newman. Credit: George Baier

Parallel worlds: The Heavens, by Sandra Newman, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

The Heavens is Sandra Newman’s eighth book. It follows novels featuring, variously, sex addiction, Buddhism and a post-apocalyptic teen dystopia;…

Credit: Robin Hill

Gothic extremes of human cruelty: Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

It has been 13 years since Thomas Harris published a novel, and the last time he published one without Hannibal…

Feminism for the Fleabag generation: The Polyglot Lovers, by Lina Wolff, reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Everyone behaves badly in The Polyglot Lovers — no saving graces. It’s a complex, shifting structure of sex, self-hatred and…

Drawing from the deck: superb sketches by sailors

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Working in the Public Record Office some years ago, I ordered up the logbook of the badly damaged HMS Scylla…

It’s judo, not chess, that’s Putin’s game

18 May 2019 9:00 am

These two refreshingly concise books address the same question from different angles: how should we deal with Russia? Mark Galeotti…

The stormy lives of Jack the Dripper and the Wife with the Knife

18 May 2019 9:00 am

A stiff, invigorating breeze of revisionism is blowing through stuffy art history. Is it really true that all the valuable…

Murder at Margate — and other crimes of passion

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Mr Todd is a lonely man, out of work, nursing a thousand grudges while he ekes out a living with…

Levitating basketball players: investigating the psychic in sport

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Years ago, a friend persuaded me that a reviewer should almost never give a book a bad review. Most books,…

Where were you when you read John Hersey’s ‘Hiroshima’?

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Of how many magazine articles can you recall where you were and what you felt when you read them? If…

Richard Holbrooke as US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in New Delhi, April 2009, a year before his death

How to lose friends and alienate people: Richard Holbrooke was a past master

11 May 2019 9:00 am

You may ask yourself, is it worth one of the best American non-fiction writers producing a book of just under…

The only thing that baffled Einstein was his own popularity

11 May 2019 9:00 am

On 6 November 1919, at a joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society, held at London’s…

Will Wiles. Credit: Marcus Ross

Who needs psychogeography? Plume, by Will Wiles, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

With his first novel about looking after an engineered wood floor, and a second novel about what it is like…

What really amused Queen Victoria? Dwarfs, giants and bearded women

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The American dwarf ‘General’ Tom Thumb is only mentioned once in Lee Jackson’s encyclopaedic survey of Victorian mass entertainment, and…

London after the Great Fire: The King’s Evil, by Andrew Taylor, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The scene is London in 1667, the city recovering from the Great Fire the year before, with 80,000 people homeless…

Is there no end to the retelling of classical myths?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In the past few years there has been a flourishing of literary responses to the Trojan war. To mention a…

A hero of the Franco era: Lord of All the Dead, by Javier Cercas, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Who is a hero? Javier Cercas, in his 2001 novel Soldiers of Salamis, asked the question, searching for an anonymous…

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…

Searching for the sublime in deep dark holes

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Edmund Burke, as a young Irish lawyer in 1756, first made the distinction between beauty and sublimity. Beauty for Burke…

Looking back on Baku

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The discovery of oil in Baku brought Ummulbanu Asadullayeva’s family respect if not respectability. Peasant-born, her grandparents ranked by the…

How Camilla’s grandfather helped popularise the architecture Prince Charles detests

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Was the Bauhaus the most inspired art school of all time or the malignant source of an uglifying industrial culture…