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The view ahead through the windscreen

Listing page content here Most literary versions of the remote future are dystopias; they are not, of course, really about the remote future at all, but quite openly about the author’s own society in exaggerated garb. The Time Machine is about the division between the effete rich of Wells’s day and the urban lower classes

Hard acts to follow

Listing page content here At a time when Israel was under the rule of the Philistines, the angel of the Lord appeared to a certain barren woman and promised her a son who would deliver Israel. This son, Samson, when grown meets and wishes to marry a Philistine girl. On his way to her he

The slow poison of praise

Listing page content here More than 60 years after its release, Citizen Kane still regularly appears on pretty much every critics’ list of the ‘Greatest Films of All Time’. If it is also regularly mentioned as one of the most overrated films of all time, that too is a testament to the power of its

A meeting of true minds

Listing page content here These letters record a friendship that proceeded, unmarred, for 40 years. It began as a simple transaction; in 1938 Sylvia Townsend Warner, as a dare, submitted a short story to the New Yorker. Her editor was William Maxwell. They proved sympathetic to each other, so sympathetic, in fact, that 150 stories

Diamonds and other best friends

Listing page content here Recent troubles in the Labour party were likened by more than one unsuccessful letter-writer to the Daily Telegraph to those of the army described by Petronius Arbiter nearly 2,000 years ago: We trained hard; but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into teams we would be reorganised.

The dangerous edge of things

Listing page content here If her name rings a bell at all, Mary Wesley, who died aged 90 in 2002, is remembered for two things: publishing the first of ten successful novels at the age of 70, and knowing a surprising amount, for a ladylike senior citizen, about sex. Even her greatest fans, though, might

Rhythm and blues

Nothing much to report here, no news and no surprises: dog bites man; Philip Roth writes another masterpiece. What would be truly shocking at this stage in the late, great unfolding of Roth’s genius would be if he were to write a bad book, something as bad as The Breast, his last bad book, and