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Metternich gets a makeover

This is a giant Teutonic forest of a book, to be progressed through with determination as if by seasoned infantry; it is as far as biography can get from a Viennese waltz. But it has its rewards. It is a very extensive and well-researched chronicle of the subject’s monumental career — 39 years as foreign

Hell and high water: eco-anxiety dominates Jenny Offill’s latest novel

Lizzie, the narrator of Jenny Offill’s impressive third novel Weather, is ‘enmeshed’ with her brother, according to her psychologist-cum-meditation teacher. The word ‘mesh’ returns a few pages later, in a podcast, referring to the interconnectedness of different species: ‘a better term than “web”, they think’. With its paradoxical meaning of both containing spaces and joining

Why were Kraftwerk such a colossal success?

Everything about Kraftwerk was odd. They had no front man, they seemed to play no instruments and their strange, electronic music owed nothing to blues, soul or any of the other forms of music that underpinned 20th-century pop. Instead, a Kraftwerk gig consisted of four rather gauche-looking fellows from Düsseldorf standing in a row, each

it’s easy to forget how many respectable people embraced eugenics

Between 1923 and 1931 the publisher Routledge produced ‘Today and Tomorrow’, a series of 110 short books by intellectual luminaries of the time who were asked to imagine the future 50 to 100 years hence. The writers included Bertrand Russell, his wife Dora, J.B.S. Haldane, C.E.M. Joad, Sylvia Pankhurst, Robert Graves, Winifred Holtby, Basil Liddell

The blistering experience of writing about Samuel Beckett

For those of us with nagging doubts about the value of literary biography, books that show the biographer at work — a genre with a solid pedigree — exert a peculiar and not entirely healthy fascination. We traipse through the sausage factory feeling sick to our stomachs yet weirdly hankering for a bite of the