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Books

A romanticised portrait of Goethe by J.H.W. Tischbein

Weimar: the best and worst of Germany

Books feature

Thuringia, a region of former East Germany, occupies a special place in the thoughts of Germans, who like to regard it as the origin of all their best virtues. It’s an alluring place, full of wonderfully untouched stretches of densely… Read more

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This thriller is as good as anything by Hilary Mantel

Books

Andrew Taylor’s historical crime novel, The Silent Boy, is so good it makes you rethink all your high-low prejudices. It reminds me of Dickens

Peter Levi Photo: Getty

Peter Levi – poet, priest and life-enhancer

Books

A review of Peter Levi: Oxford Romantic, by Brigid Allen. A loving biography of a poet priest who went from emaciated El Greco to fat country squire

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Triumph of Apollo and Sign of Gemini, ca 1470, by Francesco del Cossa Photo: Getty

Ali Smith's How to be Both: warm, funny, subtle, intelligent – and baffling

Books

You may have to read this fictional account of a 15th-century painter at least one-and-a-half times to understand it, but it's worth it

A member of the London Home Guard demonstrates the use of old wallpaper as camouflage (1942)

The real Dad’s Army was no joke

Books

A review of Operation Sealion: How Britain Crushed the German war Machine’s Dreams of Invasion in 1940, by Leo McKinstry. Civil liberties went out the window when the Nazis threatened

American heavyweight champion Joe Frazier kept his title at the end of the fight called the "match of the century" against Muhammad Ali Photo: Getty

When boxing ruled the world

Books

A review of Bouts of Mania: Ali, Frazier, Foreman and an America on the Ropes, by Richard Hoffer. A fun book about an exciting age that was as much about politics, money and race as fighting

‘Flying Rock’

Floating bodies, seeing hands, rippling skies - is Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontage a tragic dead-end?

Books

A review of Uelsmann Untitled: A Retrospective, by Jerry N. Uelsmann. There's no denying that these strange images are part of a venerable tradition – or that a teenager with Photoshop could have done it quicker

1920s Jewellery

In love with the lodger

Books

A review of The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters. The sex is blazingly described but then, alas, the Plot raises its boring head

‘La Guingette à Montmartre’ by Van Gogh (1886)

Exactly how much fun was it being an impoverished artist in Paris?

Books

A review of In Montmatre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris, 1900 – 1910, by Sue Roe. This rollicking read is at its best when describing the bacchanalian squalor

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Kafka goes to Dubai

Books

A review of The Dog, by Joseph O’Neill. This riff on Kafka’s The Castle is dominated by a creep but we stay with it because the satire is absurdly funny

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In defence of the Jacobins

Books

A review of A People’s History of the French Revolution, by Eric Hazan. A riveting piece of revisionist history by a died-in-the-wool communist

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The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again

Books feature

How does Philip Larkin’s gloom retain such power to disturb? His bleakest verses have the quality of direct address, as if a poetical Eeyore were protesting directly into our ear. ‘Aubade’, his haunting night-time meditation on the terrors of death… Read more

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Is America headed for tyranny? It is when the other side's in charge...

Books

A review of The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America. The presidency's power is increasing ominously – although perhaps not quite as much as this book thinks

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell wearing ‘the George’, by Hans Holbein

Thomas Cromwell: more Tony Soprano than Richard Dawkins

Books

A review of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most faithful Servant, by Tracy Borman. More conviction is needed from this otherwise engaging new biography

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It's Henry James meets The Young Visiters, and someone needs to call social services

Books

Man at the Helm, Nina Stibbe's first novel, is like What Maisie Knew, but with laughs and four-letter words

Coco Chanel, one of the ‘rackety celebrities’ of the 1920s, with Duke Laurino of Rome on the Lido

A Hello! magazine history of Venice

Books

A review of Italian Venice: A History, by R.J.B. Bosworth. Informative but clichéd history of the past 200-years with guest appearances by Chanel, Coward and Diana

W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot Photo: Getty

Sorbet with Rimbaud

Books

A review of Bloomsbury and the Poets, by Nicholas Murray. A delightful guide to the rich literary history of the London district

Peter and Ian Fleming as boys at Joyce Grove (Peter is on the left)

Was Ian Fleming as cool as his brother?

Secondary Feature

7 August 1964 4 Old Mitre Court, EC4 Darling Fifi, A thousand thanks for your sweet letter & for Heaven’s sake don’t think of bringing me back anything from Brazil, except perhaps a Diamond as big as the Ritz if… Read more

Santiago Carrillo Photo: Getty

Stalin's Spanish bezzie

Books

A review of The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carillo, by Paul Preston. Carillo betrayed the Republican cause and was probably responsible for the worst atrocity committed by the Left during the Civil War

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Charles Scott Moncrieff (left) had a deep personal affinity with Proust (right). His rendering of 'À La Recherche du Temps Perdu' is considered one of the greatest literary translations of all time

Soldier, poet, lover, spy: just the man to translate Proust

Books feature

Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s Englishing of Proust — widely and immediately agreed to be one of the greatest literary translations of all time — very nearly didn’t happen. Scott Moncrieff only suggested the project to his publisher after they rejected… Read more

‘While some observers were impressed, others felt the depiction of a doddery Churchill propped up on a walking stick unbecoming’

The lost Victorian who sculpted Churchill

Books

A review of Abstraction and Reality: The Sculpture of Ivor Roberts-Jones, by Jonathan Black and Sara Ayres. This follower of Rodin has a solid legacy, though his most famous commission was 'a most unpleasant business'

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The Zone of Interest is grubby, creepy – and Martin Amis's best for 25 years

Books

He has done his subject justice. The final release for the reader is an almost physical relief

The ring-necked parakeet, one of the most successful birds to colonise London, still looks conspicuously out of place in Hyde Park in the snow

What's eating London's songbirds?

Books

Andrew Self's The Birds of London is a thorough and entertaining history, but far too sympathetic to predators and bureaucrats

Chris Barber Photo: Redferns/Getty

Chris Barber should let someone meaner tell his story

Books

Jazz Me Blues is a memoir of a remarkable life by a man far too nice to do it justice

Ruth Rendell cr Jerry Bauer

Fifty years of Inspector Wexford – and a new detective on the block

Books

Ruth Rendell's The Girl Next Door is another quirky, satisfying mystery. But her fans have something else to celebrate

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