The Spectator

16 December 2017

Right side of history

For a century, theorists have argued that the nation state is obsolete. Brexit suggests otherwise


There’s something about Mary: ‘Madonna of the Rosary’, 1539, by Lorenzo Lotto

Arts feature

The time has come for one of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic Renaissance artists

Lorenzo Lotto wasn’t, in worldly terms, a huge success but his paintings are magnificently uneasy and weird

Tiny Tim by Harold Copping


Time to update our notions of disability and quit with the pity – and Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim is a product of a time when any physical impairment was seen as retribution or a burden — something to be hidden or pitied

Lifelong friends: P.T. Barnum and General Tom Thumb


Showman, con man, family man: P.T. Barnum’s many faces

Barnum’s antics smack of exploitation – but he took people who were invisible to society and made them stars

Bang her up! Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game


If this is Aaron Sorkin’s riposte to those who criticise his portrayal of women, God help us

Molly’s Game has no nuance, no reflective downtime and ends with what may be the worst cod-psychology scene of all time – this is not feminism in action


Parliament Square at the Bush is theatre that believes it knows politics better than professional politicians

And its writer, would-be radical James Fritz, is an antique conservative of the dullest stripe

Big hitter: Pete Waterman


Pete Waterman on hits, HS2 and gay clubbing

The record producer and hit songwriter put his 80s no. 1s down to his love of gay clubs


The nymphs are hit and miss, but Osipova is a witty, multifaceted Sylvia: the Royal Ballet’s Sylvia reviewed

Plus: a Swan Lake from Michael Keegan-Dolan that ditches Tchaikovsky, tutus and toe shoes

J.S. Bach and Horatio Clare in Arnstadt


The 280-mile walk that made Bach who he was

Horatio Clare follows in the footsteps of JSB and discovers a bolshie young composer with an eye for a woman


St Vincent’s Massediction is my album of year (in that I don’t actually hate it yet)

Björk was reliably doolally and the Luke Haines and Peter Perrett reissues were a glory – but elsewhere there were real stinkers


Radio 3 offers a refreshing antidote to the current conversations about Europe

Plus: how to survive if you find yourself locked inside an Ikea store over Christmas

The Listener

A recording that makes you realise Les Troyens is one of the greatest operatic masterpieces

Marvel anew at the nobility and intensity of Berlioz’s inspirational epic opera


Lovely to look at but irritatingly pious: The Miniaturist reviewed

Plus: a David Walliams adaptation that only the grumpiest of grown-ups will be able to resists