"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Contexts
The Mourners' Kaddish

The Mourners’ Kaddish

Sometimes it is very hard to put words to experiences. In Adorno’s much used (and misused) own words, “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz”; the human soul and mind can conceive of no recreation of experience, no seamless relating to, or of, life through words alone, once the humanity of meaning has been so...
This great horse-faced bluestocking

This great horse-faced bluestocking

There are books that have transformed the world; stories that have changed the course of lives. For more than 150 years now, the novels of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) have done just that for an unwavering and undiminishing succession of readers: they have stopped them in their tracks almost midway, literally nell mezzo del...
Moving on from murder

Moving on from murder

“Massacre at White House Farm: Suicide girl kills twins and parents,” screamed the front page of the Daily Express on 8 August 1985. Throughout the British press, the horrific events left no room for doubt. “A farming family affectionately dubbed ‘the Archers’ was slaughtered in a bloodbath yesterday,” continued the Express. “Brandishing a gun taken...
From In the Dream House

From In the Dream House

An engrossing and wildly innovative account of love gone bad, Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House traces the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman. In a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse, smashing the stereotype of lesbianism as safe and utopian, each chapter...
After all that we were, what shall we be?

After all that we were, what shall we be?

The war that would slash modern history, our contemporary awareness of humanity, into before and after, leaving a gaping void between the two states, seems not to have happened at all in the opening pages of Annette Hess’ ambitious and complex debut novel The German House. It is 1963, the year of Hitchcock’s The Birds,...
Not quite the way to the stars

Not quite the way to the stars

“O, it is excellent / To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant.” Shakespeare certainly knew his Romans; even though the lines that capture so brilliantly – and devastatingly – the allure of power and its raw brutality come from Measure for Measure, they could well have...
In Fleabag's head

In Fleabag’s head

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag gave us the best TV comedy entrance in living memory and much more besides, and the great news is there’s now a brand new way to binge on the entire show as Fleabag: The Scriptures collects the full shooting scripts from series 1 and 2, together with new insights and comments from...
From heaven to earth

From heaven to earth

One of the most striking characteristics of Socrates, as we know him from Plato, Plutarch, Xenophon, Cicero or Diogenes Laertius, and the numerous, yet exasperatingly fragmentary sources that survive, was his talent for convincing his interlocutors of his utter ignorance of any subject – his signature style was to present himself to the unwary as...
Disciplines of disobedience

Disciplines of disobedience

‘Let’s do this copper bastard over.’ These are the words my father was accused of saying before his arrest on the anti-Vietnam War protest of 30 March 1968 as it progressed towards Grosvenor Square, then site of the American Embassy. The officer who testified to overhearing him say these words in one of the many...
Nowhere, or wherever you are

Nowhere, or wherever you are

I wanted to be a writer when I was little. There was no question of it; I knew loads of words, and it hadn’t crossed my mind that there was anything more to it than putting them together on a blank (or blank-ish) surface. I was a writer. I wasn’t prepared to wake up one...