Books

What does John Gray’s anti-atheism amount to?

21 April 2018 9:00 am

K. Chesterton, in one of his wise and gracious apothegms, once wrote that ‘When Man ceases to worship God he…

Our sheltered lives have made us overly fearful: Aminatta Forna’s Happiness reviewed

21 April 2018 9:00 am

In her keynote lecture for a conference on ‘The Muse and the Market’ in 2015 Aminatta Forna mounted a powerful…

Inger Nilsson as Pippi Longstocking in the Swedish television series. Astrid Lindgren drew deeply on her own childhood for her books

There’s much of Astrid Lindgren in the carrot-haired rebel Pippi Longstocking

21 April 2018 9:00 am

Pippi Longstocking is a nine-year-old girl who lives alone with a monkey and horse in a cottage called Villa Villekulla…

With Leonardo, improbable speculations are never-ending, The Da Vinci Code enthusiasts see the figure of St John (on the right in this detail of ‘The Last Supper’) as Mary Magdalene, hiding in plain sight

The codes and codswallop surrounding Leonardo da Vinci

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Leonardo da Vinci has suffered more than most artists from fake history and misinterpretation. But it doesn’t make him any less fascinating, says Martin Gayford

The changing face of war and heroism

14 April 2018 9:00 am

On War and Writing by Samuel Hynes is hardly about war at all. There is little about combat here, or…

Henry Miller: part of the radical tradition of American seers and prophets

Henry Miller — pornographer or prophet?

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Few writers seem less deserving of resuscitation than Henry Miller. When the Scottish poet and novelist John Burnside was asked…

Six wintry days in Saratoga Springs: Upstate by James Wood reviewed

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Alan Querry, the central figure in James Wood’s second novel, is someone who, in his own words, doesn’t ‘think about…

Rose Tremain’s account of a loveless childhood leaves one aching for more

14 April 2018 9:00 am

1991, the Harbourfront Literary Festival in Toronto. The novelist Rose Tremain and the South African writer Carolyn Slaughter are enjoying…

Portrait of the reader as devoted book-owner: Alberto Manguel in happier days, at home in his library in France

Packing away my 35,000 books was like writing my own obituary

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Alberto Manguel is a kind of global Reader Laureate: he is reading’s champion, its keenest student and most zealous proselytiser,…

Racing on the frozen lake at St Moritz, Switzerland

If you’re planning to become a racehorse trainer, here’s how to do it

14 April 2018 9:00 am

With the Cheltenham Festival been and gone, all eyes are on Aintree and the Grand National. These courses feature in…

How one man took on the French betting system — and kept winning against the odds

14 April 2018 9:00 am

About a third of the way through this book I worked out that I had an unbeatable system for winning…

Sylvia Plath with her two children and her mother Aurelia in Devon c. 1962

It’s impossible to live up to the expectations of motherhood

14 April 2018 9:00 am

In a 1974 interview celebrating the quarter century since the publication of her classic The Second Sex (1949), Simone de…

A hymn to self-loathing: Tibor Fischer’s How to Rule the World reviewed

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Tibor Fischer has a track record with humour. His first novel, the Booker shortlisted Under the Frog, takes its title…

Give me Shakespeare’s Macbeth over Jo Nesbo’s any day

14 April 2018 9:00 am

It must have seemed a good idea to someone: commissioning a range of well-known novelists to ‘reimagine Shakespeare’s plays for…

A barricade of paving stones in the Latin Quarter of Paris, May 1968

How radical was 1968's summer of discontent?

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Philip Hensher examines the many disparate protest movements in the West sparked by the événements in Paris in 1968

Free as a bird: the beauty and exhilaration of gliding

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Over the years I’ve been in touch with a number of middle-aged professionals who, despite the success they’ve found in…

The Spanish court’s fondness for dwarfs and dogs is captured by Velázquez

Spend, spend, spend at the court of Philip IV of Spain

7 April 2018 9:00 am

‘Nine hours,’ boasted my friend the curator about his trip to the Prado. Nine! Two hours is my upper limit…

Eilean Donan Castle on Skye, with peat bog and marsh in the foreground

For peat’s sake: Britain’s bogs and moorland in crisis

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In 2008, the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie characterised the typical exponent of modern nature writing as ‘the lone enraptured male’.…

How can we know what dead people want?

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In 1999, Patrick Hemingway published True at First Light, a new novel by his father Ernest. In his role as…

Alarm bells ring when I read about grown women and dolls

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Mona — single, childless, pushing 60 — sells wooden dolls made by a carpenter friend, which she delicately costumes from…

Meeting the last Cuban fisherman to have known Ernest Hemingway

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In Havana, one week before President Obama unthawed half a century of cold relations with Cuba, I talked to the…

Migrating cranes in Vasterbotten, Sweden

The swallows that herald spring

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Sweet lovers, Shakespeare reminds us, love the spring. How can they not? All that wonderfully wanton colour, all that sensual…

Why do the Japanese despise sex?

7 April 2018 9:00 am

There are two sorts of people: those who can’t wait to grow up, and those who wish they never had…

Jacques Lacan: shrink from hell or the greatest psychoanalyst since Freud?

The selfish shrink: life with Jacques Lacan

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Peyrot, the chef at Le Vivarois in Paris, had a fascinating theory of how one of his regulars, the otherwise…

Down’s syndrome and dystopia in Jesse Ball’s Census

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Census is a curious, clever novel. It depicts a dystopia with a father and his Down’s syndrome son journeying from…