Literature

Where are Yeats, Eliot and Plath in a new survey of 20th-century poetry?

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Shelley famously and optimistically proclaimed that poets were the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Adorno famously and pessimistically declared that…

Fame made Gabriel García Márquez a pedantic bore

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Gerald Martin’s titanic biography of 2010, Gabriel García Márquez: A Life, was the product of 17 years of research and…

Writing as revenge: Memories of the Future, by Siri Hustvedt, reviewed

23 March 2019 9:00 am

Why are people interested in their past? One possible reason is that you can interact with it, recruiting it as…

Critical injuries: the perils of book reviews

15 December 2018 9:00 am

The perils of book reviews

The two works of fiction I re-read annually

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Long ago, I interviewed Edmund White and found that the photographer assigned to the job was the incomparable Jane Bown…

Girl power – or groupthink in written form?

Who really wants to read feminist children’s books?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

A friend of mine who commissions book reviews has added a sub-category to the list of titles coming up: ‘femtrend’,…

Zadie Smith: attentive, thoughtful and original

Zadie Smith: a hip-hop enthusiast with Schopenhauer in her pocket

10 February 2018 9:00 am

There’s a tiny mistake in Zadie Smith’s new collection of essays. She describes Geoff Dyer’s unimprovably funny ‘trick while introducing…

Inspiration, procrastination and the importance of pens: how writers write

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Authors on inspiration, procrastination and the importance of pens

Why I’ve cancelled my signing at an anti-Trump bookshop

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Why I’ve cancelled my signing at an anti-Trump bookshop

Josette Day and Jean Marias in La Belle et La Bête, one of Cocteau’s most visually stunning films

Jean Cocteau: confessions of an opium addict

7 January 2017 9:00 am

All biography is both an act of homage and a labour of dissection, and all biographers are jealous of their…

Loveliest of trees: ‘Cherry blossom at Asakura’ by Ando or Utagawa Hiroshige.The flowering cherry is a national obsession in Japan — and in Korea has been eradicated

The oak doesn't belong to England

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Was it perhaps the landscape historian Oliver Rackham who gave rise to our present preoccupation with old trees through his…

Show your colours: a digital visualisation of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival’s closing light display

Scotland’s cultural scene is becoming vile, venal and parochial

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Many years ago an arts spokesperson for the SNP launched an extraordinary attack on Scottish Opera, saying, ‘If push comes…

Andrew Marr: I believe the Brexit chatter

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Also in his Spectator diary: life without coffee, the birth of modern popular fiction, and ‘home rule all round’

What I’ve learned reciting poems in the street

2 April 2016 9:00 am

What I’ve learned from reciting verse in the street

Did criticism kill John Keats? Sketch by Joseph Severn of the poet in his last illness

Aphorisms and the arts: from Aristotle to Oscar Wilde

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The author of this jam-packed treasure trove has been a film critic at the New York Times since 2000 and…

Autumn: time for a pie

Autumn, season of conkers and new boots

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Each year when I see the first conker of the autumn I think: fire up the ancestral ovens! This incendiary…

Meet the librarians – and book borrowers – of the Calais Jungle

19 September 2015 8:00 am

In the middle of the Calais migrant camp, there is a book-filled haven of peace

With rain threatening, Jane Bennet departs for Netherfield — with her mother’s approval. Illustration by Hugh Thomson for Pride and Prejudice (1894)

Rain, shine and the human imagination — from Adam and Eve to David Hockney

12 September 2015 9:00 am

‘Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing,’ pleads Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. ‘Whenever people…

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

There’s something about Mary (Wollstonecraft and Shelley)

25 April 2015 9:00 am

If Mary Wollstonecraft, as she once declared, ‘was not born to tred in the beaten track’, the same with even…

Tolstoy with his secretary at Yasnaya Polyana, 1906

The prophet Tolstoy and his dodgy vicar

24 January 2015 9:00 am

One fine day in June 1896, a lone Russian nihilist visited Leo Tolstoy on his country estate. Come to hear…

Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

19 April 2014 9:00 am

The egotistical Churchill may have viewed the second world war as pure theatre, but that was exactly what was needed at the time, says Sam Leith

Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Is there any kind of love that novelists still can’t touch?

Ian Buruma’s notebook: Teenagers discover Montaigne the blogger

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Bard College in upstate New York, where I teach in the spring semester, is an interesting institution, once better known…

By the book: The NSA is behaving like a villain in a 1950s novel

18 January 2014 9:00 am

The continuing drip-feed of stories about governments and friendly-seeming internet giants sifting through our data has left some citizens feeling…

Breakdowns, suicide attempts — and four great novels

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Among the clever young Australians who came over here in the 1960s to find themselves and make their mark, a…