The dark side of Venus — goddess of war as well as love

11 January 2020 9:00 am

Bettany Hughes has spent a decade, she tells us, exploring the origins of the goddess Aphrodite, first for a BBC…

Love and loneliness prevail in the latest short stories

31 March 2018 9:00 am

Carmen Maria Machado’s debut collection Her Body & Other Parties (Serpent’s Tail, £12.99) takes a confident straddle across speculative fiction,…

For Julian Barnes, the only story is a love story — and it’s inevitably sad

27 January 2018 9:00 am

The story, as it emerges, feels both familiar and inevitable. A bored 19-year-old student, on his university holidays in mid-century…

A story of three bears — and what it means to be human

25 March 2017 9:00 am

In Yoko Tawada’s surreal and beguiling novel we meet three bears: mother, daughter and grandson. But there will be no…

‘Unexpectedly re-available’ is a phrase that speaks to me

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Unexpectedly re-available is a very good phrase. I have often seen it applied to house advertisements and thought how fabulously…

Love and loss in America’s wide open spaces

4 February 2017 9:00 am

We know our way around Raymond Carver’s blue-collar cityscapes and Updike’s urban angst and despair. Rick Bass opens a window…

Trust a man who worked in one: we don’t want more prisons

26 November 2016 9:00 am

Prisons and the public Sir: Your leading article on the sorry state of our prisons (19 November) was very welcome.…

Was Maria a virgin, a prude or a woman who liked to torture?

19 September 2015 8:00 am

 Gstaad Last week I dreamt of a girl I met in the summer of 1953, in Greece. I had never…

That’s another year gone and, against the odds, I’m still here

3 January 2015 9:00 am

A fruity voice on the train’s announcement system said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you have all your belongings, family…

Hello trees, hello sky, hello armoured riot police

25 October 2014 9:00 am

What a beautiful day, I thought, as I nodded to the porter in the bowler hat and stepped out of…

Vladimir and Véra: in love for life

Nabokov’s love letters are some of the most rapturous ever written

27 September 2014 9:00 am

Vladimir Nabokov was happily married for over 50 years and rarely apart from his wife. More’s the pity, discovers Philip Hensher

Spectator letters: Slavery continues to this day; and why Russia’s re-emergence as a world power is down to Obama’s apathy

15 March 2014 9:00 am

Slavery isn’t over Sir: I was alarmed to read Taki’s piece in this week’s High Life (8 March) which claimed…

The match that sparked the Civil War

18 September 2010 12:00 am

There are turbulent marriages.

Frustrating but enjoyable

7 July 2010 12:00 am

If we didn’t already know that Milan Kundera is one of Craig Raine’s literary heroes, then it wouldn’t be too hard to work it out from his first novel.

Lurking beneath the surface

12 May 2010 12:00 am

One’s past life is, usually, comfortably past.

An institution to love and cherish

3 February 2010 12:00 am

Books about marriage, like the battered old institution itself, come in and out of fashion with writers, readers and politicians, but never quite die away.

Surprising literary ventures

21 October 2009 12:00 am

Love Letters of a Japanese begins: ‘These letters are real.