The Spectator

10 November 2018

Deal or no deal?

Both of Theresa May’s choices are unpalatable

Books

Lead book review

Books of the year – part one

Regular reviewers choose the best — and most overrated — books of 2018

Members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) celebrate Armistice Day, 1918 in London

Books

Celebrating the 1918 Armistice resulted in thousands more deaths

A week of dancing and flag-waving saw a sharp rise in casualties of the flu pandemic, as jubilant crowds helped spread the infection

Levison Wood. Credit Simon Buxton

Books

Boys’ Own adventures in the war-torn Middle East

Levison Wood’s 5,000-mile trek around the Arabian peninsula on foot, by camel, dhow and tank would scare the bejesus out of most travellers

Jean-François Raffaelli’s view of one of Haussmann’s boulevards in 1900. Credit Getty Images

Books

Baron Haussmann: the man who set Paris straight

In under two decades, Haussmann transformed the disease-ridden, winding alleys of medieval Paris into the city of elegant, tree-lined boulevards that we know today

Alesso Baldovinetti’s ‘Madonna and Child’ (c. 1464) is rich in symbolism. The infant Christ holds his swaddling band up to the Virgin’s womb, as if it were a token of the umbilical cord that united them. The winding shape of the bandage is echoed in the distant meandering river. The Madonna’s gossamer veil falls over her head as a pyx-cloth might cover a sacramental vessel.The child touches another translucent veil, draped over the cushion beside him. Towering above him, his Mother joins her hands in devotion, as if to acknowledge her Son’s meaningful gestures

Books

Unfolding mysteries: the drama of drapery in Italian art

Paul Hills uncovers the rich symbolism of veils, cloaks, hangings and swaddling bands in masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance

Famous cricketers of the 1880s include James Lilywhite (far left) and W.G. Grace (centre). Credit: Getty Images

Books

Farewell to cricket as the archetypal English game

Nothing can beat the early days of English cricket for exuberance and patriotism. But the brawling and fake nationalism of today’s test team is dispiriting

The Statue of Liberty, photographed during a partial solar eclipse. ‘Far from being a cheerful present from one nation to another, Liberty is a subversive and occult statement’

Books

The Statue of Liberty is a deeply sinister icon

Far from protecting the huddled masses, Liberty was designed to dominate New York Bay in an anti-British show of French colonial ambition

The discovery of the murder of Lord William Russell. Credit: Bridgeman Images

Books

The Victorian melodrama that led to murder and mayhem

The idea that the sensational novel Jack Sheppard influenced Lord William Russell’s valet to slit his master’s throat caused panic throughout Victorian Britain

‘Pygmalion and Galatea’ by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). The statue of Galatea poses issues about dolls sold for sex, according to Adrienne Mayor

Books

The ancient Greeks would have loved Alexa

Classical mythology is full of robots, automata, artificial intelligence and technology. Think not only Pandora, but self-opening gates and libation-pouring statues

Credit Getty Images

Books

A darkly comic road trip: The Remainder, by Alia Trabucco Zerán, reviewed

A hungover trio in an empty hearse chase a lost coffin across the Andes in this prize-winning debut novel from Chile