E.m. forster

Heart of Darkness revisited: The Dimensions of a Cave, by Greg Jackson, reviewed

When Joseph Conrad sent his narrator into the heart of darkness, Africa was unknown territory. Revisiting the scene now, Greg Jackson dispatches his explorer to an even stranger destination: an algorithmic universe.  Jackson, a Granta Best of Young American Novelists in 2017, won prizes with his story collection Prodigals. His debut novel, The Dimensions of a Cave, could hardly be better timed. New fears about AI give it disquieting relevance. Conspiracy theories mingle with deep state corruption. Gradually it grows into a Chandleresque adventure: down these mean cyber streets a man must go. Dropped into the thick of it, the reader might get the feeling of arriving late at a

Rooms with little left to view: the queer spaces of E.M. Forster and others

In this intriguing and idiosyncratic book, which aims to present ‘a new history of queer culture and identity over the past 125 years’, Diarmuid Hester recalls how he went to look at E.M. Forster’s former sitting room in King’s College, Cambridge. This once ‘intimate space’, filled with possessions accumulated over a long life, in which Forster wrote and entertained many notable guests from 1946 to his death in 1970, had been repurposed as the college’s ‘grad suite’, filled with battered furniture from Ikea, a football table and a television set. The only remnant of Forster’s residency was a large mantelpiece designed by the writer’s father. The exotically furnished homes Josephine

Turmoil in Tuscany: The Three Graces, by Amanda Craig, reviewed

The title of Amanda Craig’s enjoyable and provocative ninth novel might conjure the dancing trio in Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ (which we visit in the book, set in Tuscany); but the three graces here are Ruth, Diana and Marta, elderly expat friends who meet for weekly gossips over coffee, ‘united by age, exile, the love of dogs and their disinclination to discuss their infirmities’. The women may be less beautiful than Botticelli’s, but they are certainly more formidable. By the end of the first chapter they’ve already smashed a car window to rescue an overheating dog. Their idyll is thrown into turmoil when Ruth finds herself hosting her grandson’s ill-matched wedding, Diana’s

From Middlemarch to Mickey Mouse: a short history of The Spectator’s books and arts pages

The old masters: how well they understood. John Betjeman’s architecture column ran for just over three years in the mid-1950s. Yet during that short run he experienced the moment that comes, sooner or later, to every regular writer in The Spectator’s arts pages. ‘It is maddening the way people corner one and make one discuss politics at the moment,’ he wrote on 23 November 1956, clearly as bored of the Suez crisis as the rest of us were, until recently, by Brexit: Because I write in this paper, people assume that I share its Editor’s views about Suez… But I don’t know what the views of this paper about Suez