Literature

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…

Scarlett O’Hara runs through the streets of burning Atlanta

'Where are the happy fictional spinsters?'

18 January 2014 9:00 am

This book arose from an argument. Lifelong bookworm Samantha Ellis and her best friend had gone to Brontë country and…

Look! Shakespeare! Wow! George Eliot! Criminy! Jane Austen!

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Among the precursors to this breezy little book are, in form, the likes of The Story of Art, Our Island…

Lose weight the Muriel Spark way

24 August 2013 9:00 am

Those of you dieting your way to a svelte physique amid the flesh-exposing terrors of summer should take courage from…

Mind your language: The springs before the Arab Spring

3 August 2013 9:00 am

Two hundred and forty-years ago next Tuesday, Thomas Gray was buried in his mother’s grave in Stoke Poges churchyard. In…

High life

23 March 2013 9:00 am

He was a member of a charmed circle of Hellene and Philhellene intellectuals just before and after the second world…

'Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing', by Jane Dunn - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Victoria Glendinning lifts the curtain on the drama of three sisters

Monsieur Hollande and Madame Bovary

2 June 2012 10:00 am

François Hollande has had it with austerity. Well, fair enough — austerity is dull and painful. No wonder other European…

In a Greene shade

26 May 2012 4:00 pm

One of the unanticipated benefits of British rule in India is the body of distinguished writing in the English language…

Hero of his own drama

17 March 2012 11:00 am

Sam Leith is enthralled by the larger-than-life genius, August Strindberg — playwright, horticulturalist, painter, alchemist and father of modern literature

Abiding inspiration

17 March 2012 9:00 am

In 1971 looking back over his life, Lionel Trilling (1905-1975) declared himself surprised at being referred to as a critic.…

Making sense of a cruel world

4 February 2012 10:00 am

The actor-biographer Simon Callow has played Dickens, and has created Dickensian characters, in monologues and in a solo bravura rendition…

The truest man of letters

7 January 2012 10:00 am

Geoffrey Wheatcroft continues to mourn his friend John Gross on the first anniversary of his death

S is for Speculative

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Margaret Atwood has written 20 novels, of which three (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the…

England from above

6 August 2011 12:00 am

A highbrow vision of our country

When the going got tough

16 July 2011 12:00 am

The acute emotional pain caused by his first wife’s infidelity was of priceless service to Evelyn Waugh as a novelist, says Paul Johnson

A haze of artifice

25 June 2011 12:00 am

Auden said: ‘The ideal audience the poet imagines consists of the beautiful who go to bed with him, the powerful who invite him to dinner and tell him secrets of state, and his fellow-poets.

A heart made to be broken

18 June 2011 12:00 am

Very useful in modern conversation, Oscar Wilde.

Honour the most exalted poet

4 June 2011 12:00 am

Philip Hensher rediscovers the rich complexities of The Divine Comedy

The Russian connection

7 May 2011 12:00 am

It’s impossible not to warm to the author of this book, a perky Turkish-American woman with a fascination with Russian literature and an irresistible comic touch.

. . . or sensing impending doom

23 April 2011 12:00 am

‘What am I? A completely ordinary person from the so-called higher reaches of society.

Cuckoo in the nest

9 April 2011 12:00 am

Caradoc King, the well-known literary agent, was adopted in 1948 as a baby into a family of three girls, shortly joined by a fourth, presided over by a difficult, unhappy mother and her feebly adoring husband.

BOOKENDS: Hang the participle

5 February 2011 6:00 am

An awful lot of books are being published these days about the English language. David Crystal has a new one out every few weeks, and John Sutherland probably has half a dozen on the go. The Language Wars: (John Murray, £17.99) is Henry Hitchings’s third and unlikely to be his last.

Nowhere becomes somewhere

5 February 2011 12:00 am

There have been quite a few anthologies of British eccentricity. Usually they are roll-calls of the lunatic: a sought-after heiress so snobbish she finally gave her hand in marriage to a man who had managed to convince her he was the Emperor of China; a miser so mean he would sit on fish until he considered them cooked; a man so addicted to cobnuts he would, after any long coach journey, be up to his knees in their shells. Men who refused to get into a bath, others who refused to get out of one, or were so quarrelsome they could spot an insult at 100 yards, others who so loved animals they would bath owls (which died), or founded their own religions so they could copulate with the faithful on the high altar (though I gather this was an ambition of the novelist Graham Greene). All the crackpots. So it is a pity that this book has as its subtitle ‘A Gallery of Glorious British Eccentrics.’

Names to conjure with

5 February 2011 12:00 am

Sebastian Faulks’s latest book, examining the great characters of British fiction, may be scorned by the literary establishment, but Sam Leith salutes its enthusiasm and humour