Life of Stalin

No second-rate apparatchik, young Stalin could be shy or gregarious, vindictive or solicitous, ideological or pragmatic: Whatever the situation required…
No second-rate apparatchik, young Stalin could be shy or gregarious, vindictive or solicitous, ideological or pragmatic: Whatever the situation required… [More]

Landmarks

Bumbelling. Dooking. Jabblin. Puddling. Skite. Squashle: Robert Macfarlane has retrieved a lost vocabulary to describe the natural world…
Bumbelling. Dooking. Jabblin. Puddling. Skite. Squashle: Robert Macfarlane has retrieved a lost vocabulary to describe the natural world… [More]

On Jane Austen

The Monty Pythonesque slapstick of … Jane Austen? Her juvenilia – not intended for the public–was full of crude practical jokes…
The Monty Pythonesque slapstick of … Jane Austen? Her juvenilia – not intended for the public–was full of crude practical jokes… [More]

Eleanor Marx

Eleanor Marx – gadfly of literary London, gender theorist, translator of Flaubert and Ibsen – never strayed from the family religion: socialism…
Eleanor Marx – gadfly of literary London, gender theorist, translator of Flaubert and Ibsen – never strayed from the family religion: socialism… [More]

Life of John Aubrey

The biographer: glutton for anecdote, scavenger of detail, prisoner to tired conventions of chronology and storytelling…
The biographer: glutton for anecdote, scavenger of detail, prisoner to tired conventions of chronology and storytelling… [More]

Afterlife

From Gilgamesh on, the afterlife has taken many guises. Our view is an incoherent projection of needs and impulses, irreconcilably at odds…
From Gilgamesh on, the afterlife has taken many guises. Our view is an incoherent projection of needs and impulses, irreconcilably at odds… [More]

In search of immortality

Fame is the basic demand of our age. Attention must be paid to tweets, posts, pictures. Literary fame is a different beast, though no less grubby…
Fame is the basic demand of our age. Attention must be paid to tweets, posts, pictures. Literary fame is a different beast, though no less grubby… [More]

Who Was Bruno Pontecorvo?

The physicist Bruno Pontecorvo was repeatedly accused of spying. But was the real problem our idea of secrecy?…
The physicist Bruno Pontecorvo was repeatedly accused of spying. But was the real problem our idea of secrecy?… [More]

American musical

The last theatrical song to hit big, Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” was written in 1973. Behold the parlous state of the American musical…
The last theatrical song to hit big, Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” was written in 1973. Behold the parlous state of the American musical… [More]

History of love songs

“Love shook my senses, / Like wind crashing on the mountain oaks.” Taylor Swift? No, Sappho. The love song is a timeless form…
“Love shook my senses, / Like wind crashing on the mountain oaks.” Taylor Swift? No, Sappho. The love song is a timeless form… [More]