Books

The secret excitement that lurks beneath our distress

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Something about the word ‘bomb’ has always thrilled me, and I know why. No school today. In the 1950s we…

‘Irish writers don’t talk to each other unless they’re shouting abuse’: Sebastian Barry interviewed

14 March 2020 9:00 am

Sebastian Barry talks to Robert Jackman about family folklore, the joy of writing playsand why he is not an ‘Irish’ novelist

If you want children to love reading, don’t tell them what to read

7 March 2020 9:00 am

If you want children to love reading, don’t tell them what to read

An Al-Qaeda double agent explains what’s really going on in Middle East

29 February 2020 9:00 am

When will the definitive history of the modern Middle East be written? For 20 years and more, a continent has…

Some of the best Austen adaptations are the most unfaithful

15 February 2020 9:00 am

You won’t find much Jane Austen in the myriad adaptations of her novels, says Claire Harman

Radio 4's new H.P. Lovecraft adaptation will give you the chills

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

Of all the many things I’ve learned from the radio so far this decade, the most deranging is that the…

Eggs and hard liquor: Spectator writers on their favourite examples of meals in literature

21 December 2019 9:00 am

P.J. O’Rourke I love poems but hate poetasters, love wine but detest oenophiles, love food but can’t stand foodies. Therefore…

Beer, sweat and jockstraps: the real history of the CBSO

21 December 2019 9:00 am

In childhood, the theme tune to The Box of Delights was the sound of Christmas. The melody was ‘The First…

The pleasures and perils of talking about art on the radio

30 November 2019 9:00 am

‘I like not knowing why I like it,’ declared Fiona Shaw, the actress, about Georgia O’Keeffe’s extraordinary blast of colour,…

What really happened at Troy?

16 November 2019 9:00 am

Heinrich Schliemann had always hoped he’d find Homer’s Troy. Although he had no archaeological background to speak of, he did…

How Nova revolutionised women’s magazines

16 November 2019 9:00 am

Batsford has just brought out a huge tome on Nova — ‘one of the most influential magazines in history’ —…

God awful: BBC1’s His Dark materials reviewed

9 November 2019 9:00 am

‘Here’s your new Sunday night obsession…’ the BBC announcer purred, overintoned and mini-orgasmed, like she was doing an audition for…

‘The only place I can’t get my plays on is Britain’: Sir Peter Brook interviewed

2 November 2019 9:00 am

‘Everyone of us knows we deserve to be punished,’ says the frail old man before me in a hotel café.…

The beauty of Soviet anti-religious propaganda

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Deep in the guts of Russian library stacks exists what remains — little acknowledged or discussed — of a dead…

A modern-day El Dorado: the Serra Pelada gold mine, Brazil, 1986

Sebastiao Salgado – master of monochrome, chronicler of the depths of human barbarity

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Occasionally, we encounter an image that seems so ludicrously out of kilter with the modern world that we can only…

Do Jews think differently?

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Sixteen years into a stop-go production saga, I got a call from the director of The Song of Names with…

Why do we write dedications in books?

28 September 2019 9:00 am

When my siblings and I were clearing out my dad’s bookshelves (he died earlier this year), I made sure to…

Will you last beyond the madeleine? Radio 4’s In Search of Lost Time reviewed

24 August 2019 9:00 am

The madeleine upon which Proust’s seven-volume epic In Search of Lost Time pivots makes its significant appearance after just 18…

Lines of beauty: Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s illustration for James and the Giant Peach

Before Quentin Blake, there was Nancy Ekholm Burkert – Dahl’s forgotten illustrator

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Bunnies were out. Beatrix Potter had the monopoly on rabbits, kittens, ducks and Mrs Tittlemouses. ‘I knew I had to…

‘The Yucca Motel’, 1995, by Fred Sigman

Geoff Dyer on the poetry of motels

22 June 2019 9:00 am

It’s to be expected. You take photographs in order to document things — Paris in the case of Eugène Atget…

‘True Love’, 1981, by Posy Simmonds

The quiet genius of Posy Simmonds, Hogarth’s heir

1 June 2019 9:00 am

‘It’s no use at all,’ says Posy Simmonds in mock despair, holding up her hands. ‘I can’t tell my left…

Why is a book like a sarcophagus?

25 May 2019 9:00 am

‘Is it like a packet of fags?’ asked my husband, less annoyingly than usual, but still in some confusion. I…

‘Come on, cancel me’: An interview with Bret Easton Ellis

11 May 2019 9:00 am

‘I grew up in LA where we all thought fame was a joke,’ says Bret Easton Ellis. ‘My class was…

Lance encounters: a plate from The Book of Tournaments, Maximilian’s remarkable encyclopedia of jousting

The joy of jousting

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Emperor Maximilian I liked to say he invented the joust of the exploding shields. When a knight charged and his…

The eyes have it: ‘The Zebra’, 1763, by George Stubbs

What makes British art British?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

There’s no avoiding the Britishness of British art. It hits me every time I walk outside and see dappled trees…