Book review

The abstract art full of 'breasts and bottoms'

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Is there any such thing as abstract art? Narratives and coherent harmonies seem to me always to emerge from the…

The man who shared a bed with D.H. Lawrence and Dylan Thomas (though not together)

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Rhys Davies was a Welsh writer in English who lived most of his life in London, that Tir na nÓg…

Is Northamptonshire not scenic enough to visit?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

I don’t know whether Bruce Bailey, a proud Northamptonshire man, agrees with the late Sir Nikolaus Pevsner that no one…

The thrill of the (postmodern neo-Victorian) chase

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Charles Palliser’s debut novel The Quincunx appeared as far back as 1989. Lavish and labyrinthine, this shifted nigh on a…

Joanne Spencer, who sold salad and rabbits from a basket in Portobello, c. 1904

Portobello's market mustn't be allowed to close

9 November 2013 9:00 am

After reading Portobello Voices, I feel more strongly than ever that the unique Portobello market mustn’t be allowed to close.…

Bill Bryson's 'long extraordinary' summer is too long

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Hands up Spectator readers who can remember the American celebrities Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, Jack Dempsey, Zane Grey,…

How we beat Napoleon

2 November 2013 9:00 am

We are accustomed to the thrill and glamour of the grands tableaux, but a nuts-and-bolts study of Napoleonic warfare makes for equally gripping reading, says David Crane

Village life can be gripping

2 November 2013 9:00 am

Black Sheep opens biblically, with a mining village named Mount of Zeal, which is ‘built in a bowl like an…

Why Jeremy Paxman's Great War deserves a place on your bookshelf

2 November 2013 9:00 am

The Great War involved the civilian population like no previous conflict. ‘Men, women and children, factory, workshop and army —…

Hogarth and the harlots of Covent Garden were many things, but they weren't 'bohemians'

2 November 2013 9:00 am

It was Hazlitt who said of Hogarth that his pictures ‘breathe a certain close, greasy, tavern air’, and the same…

The imitable Jeeves

2 November 2013 9:00 am

For as long as I can remember — I take neither pleasure nor pride in the admission — I have…

Carlos Acosta, the great dancer, should be a full-time novelist

2 November 2013 9:00 am

Carlos Acosta, the greatest dancer of his generation, grew up in Havana as the youngest of 11 black children. Money…

Photograph courtesy of Tina and Terence dooley

Why did Penelope Fitzgerald start writing so late? 

2 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Experiences aren’t given us to be “got over”, otherwise they would hardly be experiences.’ The opening sentence of the first…

Wall-painting in San Isidoro of a shepherd

Christopher Howse takes the slow train in Spain — and writes a classic

2 November 2013 9:00 am

This is probably not a book for those whose interest in Spain gravitates towards such contemporary phenomena as the films…

George Orwell's doublethink

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The inventor of ‘doublethink’ was consistently inconsistent  in his own political views, says A.N. Wilson. And no fun at all

A is for Artist, D is for Dealers

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘S is for Spoof.’ There it is on page 86, a full-page reproduction of a Nat Tate drawing, sold at…

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.…