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Extraordinary champion of ordinary people

Some years ago, I went to visit the offices of a small Moscow newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.   Novaya Gazeta has always led a precarious existence — it is one of the few publications that has consistently opposed the Kremlin — and that day the editor was particularly distracted. While I was talking to him, the

Succeeding in spite of itself

This is a success story. In the 60 years since Nehru proclaimed India’s tryst with destiny all has not gone as he would have wished. Only just over 60 per cent of adult Indians are literate, far less than the comparable figure for China. Life expectancy has nearly doubled since independence, but here again China

A choice of crime novels | 28 April 2007

Any new novel by John Harvey is cause for celebration. He produces beautifully written, solidly engineered crime stories that probe the flaws and sensitivities of British society. Gone to Ground (William Heinemann, £12.99) begins with the murder of Stephen Bryan, a lecturer in media studies bludgeoned to death in the shower of his house in

The bicentenary of the Literary Society

Next month, the Literary Society will celebrate its 200th birthday. The monthly dinner at the Garrick Club will be bigger than usual, but otherwise there will be nothing unusual. The membership has often been distinguished but, as is perhaps typical of English letters, the club has never done anything other than dine. It is not

Is Hilaire Belloc out of date?

A. N. Wilson, in his admirable  biography, concluded that Belloc  was more remarkable as a man than in his writings. No doubt he was, and his case is not unusual. The same has been said often of Dr Johnson and of Byron, while I know people who return frequently to Walter Scott’s Journal, fascinated by