Books

‘Arise Hungarians, your country calls you!’ The poet Sandor Petofi declaims the famous ‘Talpra Magyar’ on 15 March 1848. Lajos Kossuth stands to the right

Hungary is being led once again down a dangerous nationalistic path

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Hungary’s history is full of conflict and compromise. But even among its many minorities it was a country that inspired extraordinary loyalty, says Philip Mansel

Detail of ‘Penn’s Treaty with the Indians’ by Benjamin West. Though William Penn was celebrated for his humane treatment of Native Americans, his heirs swindled the Lenape out of a million acres of territory

Should William Penn be shaking in his grave?

12 January 2019 9:00 am

The ultimate driving force of William Penn’s adult life is inaccessible, as the Quaker phrase ‘Inner Light’ suggests. While a…

Yoko Ono in the Dakota building, on the first anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. Credit: Getty Images

Partying with John and Yoko: The Dakota Winters, by Tom Barbash, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Tom Barbash’s dark and humorous second novel takes a risk by combining invented and real characters. I feared nagging doubts…

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Nazi caricatures: The Order of the Day, by Éric Vuillard, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

There was a time when you read French literary novels in order to cultivate a certain kind of sophisticated suspicion.…

Some artists talk for hours unprompted. Others, such as Patrick Caulfield (above), find the simplest question often difficult to answer

It’s a lifetime of hard work being an artist

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Once, when a number of Royal Academicians were invited to Buckingham Palace, the celebrated abstract painter John Hoyland (1934–2011) found…

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Love in a time of people-trafficking: Among the Lost, by Emiliano Monge, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

From the very first pages of Among the Lost, we’re engaged, and compromised. Estela and Epitafio are our main anchors,…

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Make it a new year’s resolution to be less active

12 January 2019 9:00 am

As a boy Josh Cohen was passive, dopey and given to daydreaming. Now a practising psychoanalyst and a professor of…

‘The conclusion of the 18 October demonstration’

Small but deadly: postcards that fuelled the Russian Revolution

12 January 2019 9:00 am

In this handsomely illustrated book Tobie Mathew makes a case for the lowly postcard’s role in the politicisation of pre-revolutionary…

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Catchwords for today — what’s in, what’s out

12 January 2019 9:00 am

The mid-term elections in the US, when Democrats took over Congress, were hailed as a victory for ‘progressives’, while David…

When William I’s bloody conquest came to an end, it was his coronation in London, on Christmas Day 1066, that sealed it

What did the Romans ever do for London?

12 January 2019 9:00 am

When Bishop Guy of Amiens looked across the Channel in the 11th century he saw ‘teeming London [which] shines bright.…

Chigozie Obioma. Credit: Jason Keith.

An Igbo Paradise Lost: An Orchestra of Minorities, by Chigozie Obioma, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Nurture hatred in your heart and you will keep ‘an unfed tiger in a house full of children’. A man…

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Life and death in 1970s Belfast: For the Good Times, by David Keenan, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

David Keenan’s debut novel, This is Memorial Device, about a small town in Lanarkshire and its post-punk scene, showed that…

Francis Bacon in front of his triptych at the Galerie Claude Bernard in the Rue des Beaux Arts, Paris in 1977

France gets a taste for Bacon

12 January 2019 9:00 am

The case of Michael Peppiatt is a curious one. He first met Francis Bacon when he was an undergraduate at…

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In Epping Forest’s dark undergrowth

12 January 2019 9:00 am

In this current era of identity politics and a more fluid approach to gender and sexuality amongst a younger generation,…

Life at the Globe

12 January 2019 9:00 am

  IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PRINCIPAL PARTNERS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE The Globe was the occasion of drama before the first…

‘The Break-up of the Ice’ by Claude Monet

How Calouste Gulbenkian became the richest man in the world

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on the ruthless cynicism behind Calouste Gulbenkian’s colossal fortune

‘Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon’ by Edward S. Curtis, 1914

Let there be night: adventures in the dark

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Edward S. Curtis’s 1914 photograph, ‘Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon’, shows the Kwakiutl tribe of North American Indians circling…

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The intoxicating languor of the Caribbean

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Ian Fleming’s voodoo extravaganza Live and Let Die finds James Bond in rapt consultation of The Traveller’s Tree by Patrick…

Franz Kafka. Credit: Getty Images

The absurd struggle to claim ownership of Kafka

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Benjamin Balint’s Kafka’s Last Trial is a legal and philosophical black comedy of the first water, complete, like all the…

Portrait of the Artist’s wife, by Henry Herbert La Thangue. Credit: Bridgeman Images

Tear-stained ramblings that remained unsent

5 January 2019 9:00 am

The deserved success of Shaun Usher’s marvellous anthology Letters of Note has inspired several imitators, and Caroline Atkins’s sparkling collection…

Grand Duke Francesco I de Medici may have been poisoned with arsenic by his brother Ferdinando. Portrait by Agnolo Bronzino

The age of chivalry was an age of devilry

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Agatha Christie’s spirit must be loving this poisonous new historical entertainment. Eleanor Herman has already enjoyed the success of Sex…

Portrait of Casanova. Credit: Getty Images

Casanova: the scandalous libertine who seduced his own daughter

5 January 2019 9:00 am

This monumental unabridged audio production of Casanova’s memoir The Story of My Life in three volumes covers his first 49…

Theodore Roosevelt campaigning in the summer of 1912

Words to rally and inspire: stirring speeches from Elizabeth I to the present

15 December 2018 9:00 am

Great oratory is moving, persuasive and can even be funny. But, as William Hague discovers, some of the most remarkable speeches are those that were never delivered

Sir William Wilde, father of Oscar Wilde, by J.H. Maguire

The wildest Wilde of all: the scandalous life of Oscar’s father

15 December 2018 9:00 am

‘To have a father is always big news,’ according to the narrator of Sebastian Barry’s early novel, The Engine of…

View from the Rigi, Switzerland. The last great blizzard is predicted to be in 2040

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Soon that’s all we’ll be able to do

15 December 2018 9:00 am

I like a book where you don’t think you’re going to be interested in the subject, but then find it’s…