The intractable battle Premium28 April 2016 | by Richard Gaillardetz
A righteous anger reverberates from the Irish theologian Gabriel Daly. He has witnessed sundry abuses at the hands of an authoritarian Church and now, in the autumn of his life, he speaks out.
Urban sprawl Premium28 April 2016 | by James Feerguson
London may be the capital of the UK, but it is no longer an English city. More than half of its inhabitants were born abroad, and most of those have arrived in the last decade.
What is a man? Premium28 April 2016 | by Emily Holman
Goethe, widely (and mistakenly) credited with coining the phrase “world literature”, or Weltliteratur, remarked that “like all things of supreme value, [art] belongs to the whole world”. I don’t know about the whole world, but David Szalay’s new novel certainly has a stronger claim than most to being a “European novel”.
Stalin was a liberal Premium28 April 2016 | by Robert Carver
In Enver Hoxha’s Albania everyone was potentially guilty of everything. As the laconic joke went: “Three men are in prison. One asks, ‘What are you in here for?’ ‘I supported Popoviç. And you?’ ‘I opposed Popoviç. And you?’. ‘I am Popoviç’.”
The royal Scot Premium21 April 2016 | by Geoffrey Scott OSB
It covers barely two years, and is over 600 pages long. So what prompted Jacqueline Riding to compile what is the most comprehensive account in modern times of the ’45 Jacobite rebellion? As she perceptively demonstrates, Jacobite concerns reflect three hugely contentious issues: Scottish opposition to the Union, Britain’s economic competition with the rest of Europe, and the ways an invading rebel army might maintain its hold on occupied territory.
David Hepworth has started something. Mixtapes and personal playlists are nothing new, but the man who once fronted The Old Grey Whistle Test and co-founded Q magazine (and so needs to be listened to) has thrown down a gauntlet and done so with the airy erudition that has always characterised his rock writing.
Over the water Premium21 April 2016 | by Julian Margaret Gibbs
It is the early fifties and Eilis lives in south-west Ireland with her widowed mother and older sister Rose. Life is narrow: she works as a part-time assistant in the grocery shop of the tyrannical Miss Kelly and her brothers have had to go to England for jobs.
Master of the dark arts Premium21 April 2016 | by Jonathan Wright
For a man who ruled over 1530s Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici left frustratingly little reliable evidence for his future biographers. “In many cases”, Catherine Fletcher admits, “I have only a single source, and cannot check the facts.
Sacred landscapes Premium14 April 2016 | by Peter Davidson
This remarkable new book by Ann Wroe is an extended meditation on light, especially as it plays on the chalk landscape behind the south-coast towns of England, where she has walked since childhood. Like all her work, there are felicities of phrasing and cadence on every page, and each of the six chapters offers something of the taut coherence and closeness of the structure of musical variation.
Minding the gap Premium14 April 2016 | by Jane O’Grady
A centuries-old assumption held throughout Christian Europe was that we have, indeed are, souls. But what is a soul, and how can it be fitted into a scientific world view? George Makari, a historian of psychiatry, charts the “hybrid” philosophical and scientific attempts from Descartes onwards to make this accommodation.
Irish gothic Premium14 April 2016 | by James Moran
Here is an eerily mesmerising debut novel that revolves around three fascinating characters: a mute girl called Clara, her epicurean guardian, Mr Crowe, and his mannered servant, Eustace. They live in a large country estate, in a setting that is geographically and chronologically ambiguous, able to enjoy a library full of treasures, including a Shakespeare First Folio.
Fanning the flames Premium14 April 2016 | by Marcus Tanner
A mark of lazy journalism is a tendency to say one war is just like another, better-known war. Journalists descending on Bosnia in the 1990s were fond of venturing that the Yugoslav War resembled the Spanish Civil War – with which it had almost nothing in common.
A reign in Spain Premium07 April 2016 | by Andrew Breeze
Alfonso the Wise was a ruler, warrior, lawgiver, poet, scholar and patron of arts and sciences.
The great trailblazer Premium31 March 2016 | by John M. Rist
Robin Lane Fox, though no fellow Christian, admires Augustine’s literary skills and his perceptiveness about human social life – and therein are this book’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you are female, then you’re a daughter. Of course you might also be a sister, wife, mother, aunt, niece, grandmother or mistress, but you have to be a daughter. No escape. This seems to be the notion behind the title of a book that dwells on the lives of seven generations of the lonely daughters of the House of Sackville-West.
In the soup Premium31 March 2016 | by Robert Carver
“Fog everywhere. Fog up the river … fog down the river ... fog in the eyes of Greenwich pensioners … fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin: fog cruelly pinching the toes of his shivering ’prentice on deck.
Cold comfort Premium31 March 2016 | by Madeleine Minson
It seems such a promising prospect. Finland-Swedish author Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s novel has an intriguingly remote setting, on a small island in the Finnish archipelago, where the fishing and farming community is tight-knit.
No saint Premium17 March 2016 | by Eliza Filby
Tom Bower – previous books No Angel: the secret life of Bernie Ecclestone and Sweet Revenge: the intimate life of Simon Cowell – is not celebrated as a hagiographer, but even by his standards this relentless assault on his latest subject makes for depressing, and somewhat exhausting, reading.
Taste and see Premium17 March 2016 | by Kirsty Jane McCluskey
James martin’s book reads more like a long homily than a volume on spirituality. That’s because it is a homily: a set of reflections delivered at St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, on Good Friday last year.
A troubled ministry Premium17 March 2016 | by Caroline Jackson
As Elizabeth Bowen observed in 1942, with characteristic precision and tragic prescience, “In the matter of the Troubles and Ireland and houses and behaviour on both sides, no fiction could improve upon or exaggerate reality.”
Preaching hate Premium17 March 2016 | by Nicholas Vincent
The three decades after the Second World War were arguably the most productive in the long history of science. A string of fundamental insights into the nature of the universe came in rapid succession: the Big Bang Theory of its origin...
This terrific recording of George Eliot’s enormous final novel restores a classic to us. Juliet Stevenson’s warm, intelligent voice lulls us out of our resistance to Eliot’s slow nineteenth-century pace, revealing anew the writer’s marvellous characterisation and her acute grasp of issues that still affect women.
Among the less spectacular literary consequences of Hitler’s war was the wholesale move of the Oxford University Press’ London branch to Oxford. Its staff included Charles Williams, an editor in his mid fifties with an industrious literary bent and curious religious interests.
There is a cameo role for St Francis de Sales in Anthony Quinn’s hugely impressive new novel. The heroine, Freya Wyley, has just gone up to Oxford in 1945, fresh out of the Wrens, and calls in on fellow fresher Nancy Holdaway, who has a devotional portrait of the saint on her mantelpiece.
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