Do you know anyone who actually looks forward to the Prince of Wales becoming king? Me neither. One lady I know, a fervent royalist, came to dinner the other night and declared, apropos the question of whether Camilla should become queen: “Please God the Queen carries on”.
Stereotypes under the skin Premium20 April 2017
We never learn the name of the protagonist and narrator of this 2016 Man Booker-winning novel, but he is bursting with personality, especially in this vigorous reading. Warm, caustic and humorous, Prentice Onayemi’s voice romps through a wacky series of events.
In 1920 a nine-year-old boy was asleep in his grandparents’ house in rural Lithuania. In the morning he saw a hole in the window. A search revealed a grenade, with the pin out, under his bed. A Lithuanian nationalist had attacked his Polish-Lithuanian gentry family who had lived in the area for centuries.
Expanding his recent series of short, lively books from Yale on big topics (culture and the death of God are already in the bag), the former high priest of literary theory and now self-appointed scourge of “the commissars of contemporary cultural discourse”, Terry Eagleton, turns his attention to materialism.
Catholicism has always been characterised by doubt and diversity as much as certainty and uniformity. During the Enlightenment, before the French Revolution brought its critical temper and rational methodology, religious faith was often worn lightly in European society.
It is surprising to see an acclaimed poet make her prose debut in a genre which in recent years has acquired a reputation for being, well, prosaic. But Sally Read is not your garden variety Catholic convert, and Night’s Bright Darkness is not your usual conversion memoir.
“I’m writing this book to avoid thinking that, now that I no longer believe, I know better than those who do.” Emmanuel Carrère, hailed as France’s greatest writer of non-fiction, homes in on St Paul, St Luke and the origins of Christianity in this exhilarating work that was a prize-winning literary sensation in France and has sold over 200,000 copies.
Far from being a throwback to the past, fundamentalism is a product of modernity
Ideas in peril Premium06 April 2017 | by Thomas Tallon
As professor of English literature and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge, Stefan Collini has several years of experience as a university teacher and administrator at Cambridge and elsewhere.
Art as medication Premium06 April 2017 | by James Moran
Samuel Beckett drew part of his inspiration for Waiting for Godot from a painting, “Two Men Contemplating the Moon”, by Caspar David Friedrich.
When Alfred “Sunny” Harmsworth created his first publications, such as Answers (1888) and then the Daily Mail (1896), his war cry was “explain, simplify, clarify” – watchwords that stood the Mail in good stead through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.
The firebrand and the swot Premium30 March 2017
Here is a tale of two sisters, of a kind. One, the nearly woman, could have been Labour’s first female prime minister, and the other, a vicar’s daughter, has been dogged by success right to the door of Number Ten.
The author of this new study of Niccolò Machiavelli’s life, times and thought, Erica Benner, teaches at Yale University. In her preface, she draws our attention to what every close reader of Machiavelli immediately spots: namely, that it is very difficult to say with any certainty what political philosophy he is advocating.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the bold protest against the trade in indulgences, when Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenberg. This possibly apocryphal historical event has become permanently etched in the Western imagination.
With the very first line, this novel sets up its emotional world with remarkable efficiency. “The day I met Jean Culver was also the day I stopped drinking,” writes the narrator Kate Lambert. We know that Jean is going to be important. We know that Kate has suffered.
Given the caution about meeting one’s heroes, should a similar warning attach to their biographies? Ever since the spectacular success of Good Behaviour, the extravagant, blackly comic novel which eviscerated the toxic double standards of Ireland’s Protestant Ascendancy, many have prized the work of Anglo-Irish novelist and playwright Molly Keane.
In 1949, George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984, depicting a bleak future with mandatory submission to the tyrannical cult of Big Brother, little or no personal life choice and dire punishments for anyone who breaks the rules.
The new Eve Premium02 March 2017 | by Sarah Jane Boss
Two books about the Virgin Mary investigate the earliest history of devotion to her cult, and consider her alongside visionaries of the last century
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