Books

Portrait of Ruskin dated 1870

John Ruskin: the making of a modern prophet

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Will John Ruskin’s concerns about the environment and his belief in a holistic approach to living make him fashionable again, wonders Sam Leith

The inventor of gonzo journalism: Hunter S. Thompson, in his heyday in the 1960s

How fear and loathing of Nixon sent Hunter S. Thompson crazy

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Hunter Stockton Thompson blazed across the republic of American arts and letters for too short a time. When in February…

The road to Calvary: Enrique Irazoqui as Christ in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film The Gospel According to Matthew

Seeing and believing: the best spiritual films of Europe’s golden age

16 February 2019 9:00 am

The Italian film director Federico Fellini was not known for his piety (far from it), yet towards the end of…

The North Pole, from the star atlas of the French Jesuit priest and scientist, Ignace-Gaston Pardies, published in 1674

The unearthly powers of the North Pole

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Having spent too much of my life at both poles (writing, not sledge-pulling), I know the spells those places cast.…

Credit: Getty Images

Fiction for the #MeToo age: Victory, by James Lasdun, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

James Lasdun is my favourite ‘should be famous’ writer, his work extraordinarily taut and compelling. His eye-boggling psychological thrillers are…

James Clerk Maxwell: funny, flippant and charming, with an extraordinarily fertile mechanical imagination

The powerful magnetism of James Clerk Maxwell

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Chances are, you are reading these words in some room or other. Build a wall down the middle of it,…

Sam Lipsyte. Credit: Ceridwen Morris

Hitting the bullseye: Hark, by Sam Lipsyte, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

This is an ebullient, irreverent and deeply serious novel in the noble tradition of Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis (especially Babbitt…

Yiyun Li, Credit: Roger Turesson

No escape from grief: Where Reasons End, by Yiyun Li, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

When Yiyun Li first became a writer, she decided that she would leave behind her native language, Chinese, and never…

James Simpson’s provocative book draws primarily on literary evidence, with Milton as its presiding genius

The brutish origins of British liberalism

16 February 2019 9:00 am

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the one to heaven may be surfaced with bad ones.…

Credit: Getty Images

Fun at the EU’s expense: The Capital, by Robert Menasse, reviewed

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Stendhal likened politics in literature to a pistol-shot in a concert: crude, but compelling. When that politics largely consists of…

The catch from the Dogger Bank is landed on the beach at Schevingen from Dutch fishing vessels — or ‘doggers’

Fishing for meaning in vanished Doggerland

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Adam Nicolson is entranced by a meditation on vanished Doggerland ­– the area that once connected England to the Continent

An island’s dark secrets: The Tempest, by Steve Sem-Sandberg, reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

‘I should not have gone back to the island but I did it all the same.’ So begins the Swedish…

Kristen Roupenian Credit: Urszula Soltys

Kristen Roupenian’s debut short stories fulfil all expectations

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Kristen Roupenian’s debut collection, You Know You Want This (Cape, £12.99), comes hotly anticipated. Her short story, ‘Cat Person’, went…

Shakespeare on the beach: Oh I Do Like to Be..., by Marie Phillips, reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

The phrase ‘Shakespeare comedy’ is an oxymoron with a long pedigree, one which perhaps stretches back to the late 16th…

Wall painting of waterfowl flying out of the reeds, with papyrus on the left. From the tomb of Akhenaten, c. 1375 BC

Treasures from Ancient Egypt’s wastepaper baskets

9 February 2019 9:00 am

In 2016, after some unseemly back-and-forth between the Commons and Lords, it was decided that Acts of Parliament should no…

When kissing in public carried a death sentence

9 February 2019 9:00 am

I once threw Tony Parker’s Lighthouse across the fo’c’sle of a ship at sea when I read that his characters…

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina in the 1948 film. Credit: Getty Images

Travelling by train – with Anna Karenina

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Any memoir is a form of double-entry book-keeping, in which what has been lost is reckoned against what has been…

How I tried – and spectacularly failed – to assist my mother’s suicide

9 February 2019 9:00 am

‘If your time ain’t come, not even a doctor can kill you’ — so goes the proverb that best echoes…

Twilight in the bayou: The New Iberia Blues, by James Lee Burke, reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

The king of crime fiction doesn’t need a crown and sceptre. Every page proclaims his majesty. James Lee Burke has…

Tracey Thorn performing at the Palace, Los Angeles in 1985

The day I woke up... to hear that only Tracey Thorn loved me

9 February 2019 9:00 am

It’s unusual for musicians to become writers. The trajectory of yearning is meant to be the other way around. When…

Isaiah Berlin: an extreme liberal, who was reluctant to think that people act purely maliciously

Do we really need to read Isaiah Berlin’s every last word?

9 February 2019 9:00 am

This is a fascinating example of a small genre, in which the author decides at an early stage in his…

Life at the Globe

9 February 2019 9:00 am

    IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PRINCIPAL PARTNERS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE’S 2019 SUMMER SEASON Though the new production of Richard…

Eric Hobsbawm, photographed in 1996. He admitted late in life that he had developed in youth ‘a facility for deleting unpleasant or unacceptable data’

How Eric Hobsbawm remained a lifelong communist — despite the ‘unpleasant data’

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Left orphaned and impoverished at 14, Eric Hobsbawm was ripe for conversion to communism, says Richard Davenport-Hines

Dr Erasmus Darwin playing chess with his son, c.1780

An intellectual dynasty: the Darwins, Wedgwoods and their notable intermarriages

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Readers of Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage will remember that its author set out to write a life of…

Credit: Getty Images

Demography has become the biggest story on the planet

2 February 2019 9:00 am

One of my vanities is that all my novels are different. Yet one astute journalist identified a universal thread: ‘Too…