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Charlotte Brontë. Image: Getty.

Spectator books of the year: Melanie McDonagh embraces The Essence of the Brontës

23 November 2014 12:00

Muriel Spark wasn’t only one of the great British novelists but a cracking literary critic and a lovely essayist. Her book on Mary Shelley is extraordinarily perceptive; ditto, but more… Continue reading

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Author Ian McEwan

Spectator books of the year: Lewis Jones on Ian McEwan and narrow boats

23 November 2014 9:00

Music Night at the Apollo: A Memoir of Drifting (Bloomsbury, £14.99) describes the year Lilian Pizzichini spent with her cats on the Adam Bonny, a narrowboat moored on the Grand… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Molly Guinness on the ‘oddly adorable’ New York dentist

22 November 2014 21:00

What You Want, or the Pursuit of Happiness by Constantine Phipps (Quercus, £20). This is a deeply eccentric book — a novel entirely in verse set in a theme park… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Sam Leith explains why The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters nearly lost him money

22 November 2014 18:00

I liked Adam Nicolson’s The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (William Collins, £25) so much that — if I had had the first idea how to operate in a betting… Continue reading

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Clive James in 1976. Image: Getty

Spectator books of the year: Marcus Berkmann reveals the only book this year he didn’t want to finish

22 November 2014 15:00

As someone who spent several years writing TV reviews mainly for laughs, I kneel before the twin idols of Clive James and Nancy Banks-Smith, without whom I wouldn’t have had… Continue reading

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The slaying of the Jabberwock (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: ‘Jabberwocky’ for the digital age (plus: Christmas round robins from fictional characters)

22 November 2014 9:30

The call for scenes describing a well-known character from children’s literature past grappling with a 21st-century problem drew an entry full of wit and variety. Pamela Dow reimagined Louisa May… Continue reading

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Image: Getty.

Spectator books of the year: Jane Ridley on her favourite books about The Great War

22 November 2014 9:00

2014 has been the year of 1914. In the same way that Christmas puddings appear in supermarkets in October, many of the contestants in the publishing race for 2014 defied… Continue reading

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Mike Nichols collecting an AFI Life Achievement  Award

The Spectator’s original review of The Graduate, directed by Mike Nichols

20 November 2014 13:57

This review first appeared in The Spectator on 15 August 1968. In the United States The Graduate is already as much a phenomenon as a film. Critics have been treating… Continue reading

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Alina Cojocaru in ENB's Swan Lake. Photography: ASH

English National Ballet’s star ballerina infuriates fans

19 November 2014 17:06

Which would you rather dance in: Milton Keynes or Moscow’s Bolshoi? It’s that age-old dilemma for a star ballerina like Alina Cojocaru, who last week decided not to fulfil a… Continue reading

3 Comments
Goshawk

Spectator books of the year: Alan Johnson on why H is for Hawk is A for Amazing

19 November 2014 15:16

H is For Hawk (Cape, £14.99) is the most ‘A for Amazing’ book I’ve read in a long while. Helen Macdonald weaves together three separate but related strands to produce a… Continue reading

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Owen Jones: was he right all along? Image: Getty

Spectator books of the year: Matthew Parris on his growing fear that Owen Jones might be right

19 November 2014 14:53

As the year unwinds I’m rebuked by hints all around me that a book I comprehensively panned in Literary Review is basically true. The Establishment and How They Get Away With It by Owen… Continue reading

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Why Paddington is anti-Ukip propaganda

19 November 2014 12:46

Well, I’ve just been to see the new Paddington film – the one Colin Firth bowed out of on account of not feeling up to being the voice of the… Continue reading

28 Comments
Band Aid 30

Like everyone else, I want to think Bob Geldof’s awful – but I can’t

19 November 2014 12:04

Band Aid 30 is officially the fastest selling single of 2014. Yet this attempt by successful musicians to heal Africa through song has not met with universal cheer. Instead, a… Continue reading

18 Comments
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Kajaki review: never have I seen a more gruesome depiction of war

19 November 2014 11:07

On September 6th, 2006, a mortar unit from 3rd Battalion, 3 Para, defending the Kajaki dam over the Helmand River in Afghanistan, spotted an illegal road block set up by… Continue reading

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(Photo: AFP/Andrew Cowie)

Yes, Bob Geldof, Africans know it’s Christmas. Do you know it’s time to pack Band Aid in?

19 November 2014 10:19

In this week’s Spectator, out tomorrow, our leading article looks at the Band Aid 30 single and why it’s time for Bob Geldof to pack Band Aid in. Pickup a copy tomorrow… Continue reading

177 Comments
A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

Spectator books of the year: Stephen Walsh on Leningrad

18 November 2014 11:52

I’ve reviewed only a handful of books in 2014, but have struck lucky twice. Brian Moynahan’s Leningrad: Siege and Symphony (Quercus, £25) is one of the most moving books I’ve read for… Continue reading

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The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

Spectator books of the year: Ferdinand Mount on Colm Tóibín

18 November 2014 11:17

I have always loved Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale. I now have an equal fondness for Sathnam Sanghera’s Marriage Material (Heinemann, £14.99), which is a reworking of the Black Country classic translated to… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Jeremy Clarke gives his apologies

18 November 2014 11:00

I haven’t read any books published this year —or last year, come to that. That disqualifies me — doesn’t it? Read the other Spectator books of the year

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Damon Albarn at the Royal Albert Hall: I’m sorry to say he killed it

18 November 2014 10:35

You can’t help but want to hate Damon Albarn. While he may not be the most irritating of the Britpop survivors, (as long as fellow Blur-ite Alex James is still… Continue reading

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The Mike Leigh/Nick Serota puff piece for Newsnight

Newsnight’s arts coverage has descended into a string of fawning advertorials

17 November 2014 15:37

Newsnight‘s decision to interview misogynist comedian Daniel ‘Dapper Laughs’ O’Reilly has been slammed as a cynical ratings grab, a descent even from the depths plumbed by devoting 15 minutes to… Continue reading

17 Comments
The £12,000 first prize goes to... this: 'Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow' by David Titlow, 2014. Copyright: David Titlow

The Taylor Wessing Prize has no future if it continues to be so insipidly PC

17 November 2014 12:19

We know what to expect from the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Africans in tribal dress. Flame-haired girls posing with animals. Nudes, generally grotesque: obese hanging bellies, a limb missing here… Continue reading

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The Hardys with their dog Wessex in 1914. Image: Corbis

Spectator books of the year: Jonathan Mirsky on dogs

17 November 2014 11:52

The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Exceptional Dogs by Mikita Brottman (William Collins, £16.99). I have read thousands of books in my 81 years and this is the only one… Continue reading

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John Gielgud as Hamlet: the first young poet-prince

Spectator books of the year: Roger Lewis on hating Sheridan Morley

17 November 2014 11:47

Sheridan Morley was an old enemy of mine, so I was thrilled to see him brilliantly denounced and called to account by Jonathan Croall in his first-class book about writing… Continue reading

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'An Evening with Arnold Schwarzenegger'. Image: Yui Mok/PA

When Arnie met Ross

16 November 2014 18:10

Arnie mania struck the capital last night. A thousand fans crowded into the Lancaster London Hotel to see Schwarzenegger in conversation with Jonathan Ross. He came bounding on stage, in… Continue reading

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Getty Images

Spectator books of the year: Julie Burchill on Julie Burchill

16 November 2014 12:44

I couldn’t work out whether Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl (Ebury, £14.99) was aimed at mature adolescents or immature adults, but I loved it anyway — even before I came… Continue reading

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