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Literature

Richard Flanagan, winner of the 2014 Man Booker.  Photo: BEN STANSALL/ AFP/ Getty Images

It’s about time a man won the Booker again

15 October 2014 11:55

I bet fifty quid on Howard Jacobson winning the Man Booker. My original bet was actually on a ‘Yes’ vote below 40 per cent in the Scottish referendum and Bet365 then gave… Continue reading

3 Comments
Bikers

A brief history of biker gangs at war – Islamofascist Iraq edition

15 October 2014 8:21

America and Britain are still fumbling for policies to deal with nationals joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In Holland, meanwhile, authorities faced a more cheering task: sorting… Continue reading

19 Comments
Will Self publicising his latest novel Shark

Will Self is wrong (again): online reading isn’t negligent reading

8 October 2014 12:39

Dim the lights, half-muffle the bells, replace your Hatchard’s bookmark with a strip of black crepe: the novel is dead. Again. Will Self broke the news in last Saturday’s Guardian,… Continue reading

16 Comments
(Image: Illustration from 'Where's Boris?' by Wan at Monkey Feet, Orion Books)

The Mayor of London is a wally: official

7 October 2014 15:51

Far from it being Mr Steerpike’s prerogative to call a former editor of the Spectator a wally, he was rather amused by Boris’s latest escapade. Now we can all relive those classic… Continue reading

8 Comments
Rare Roman Souvenir Acquired By The British Museum

The great David Ekserdjian deserves a museum of his own

8 August 2014 14:28

Ever since Mr Blair’s New Dawn of 1997, the dominant idea in public policy towards public collections has been ‘access’. The doctrine is more than half-right: art, antiquities etc paid… Continue reading

1 Comment
Image: Getty

Michael Gove and the Ship of Fools

13 June 2014 17:30

It lies rigged and fully masted in the harbour, the Ship of Fools, and soon it will be crewed by some of our favourite smarties. Is that Shami Chakrabarti charging… Continue reading

94 Comments
Image: Getty

Why do so many of our MPs feel the need to write books?

10 June 2014 17:39

It sometimes feels like there is a never-ending flood of books written by politicians delivered to the Spectator offices. Almost every week a new one – or the invitation to… Continue reading

32 Comments
Douglas

The great Shakespeare authorship question

1 May 2014 16:11

Was William Shakespeare just a nom de plume? The question is usually dismissed as boring, only of interest to snobs and cranks. Clever people, like the Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate,… Continue reading

443 Comments
George Saunders wins the Folio Prize for his book Tenth Of December. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

New literary award launches. But is the Folio Prize just a pretentious version of the Booker?

11 March 2014 13:53

The British Library isn’t the first place I associate with contemporary fiction. For me, it’s about the Tudor manuscripts: the support and expertise of the manuscript room staff is second… Continue reading

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Religion may be inherently strong, but without belief it is weak. (TENGKU BAHAR/AFP/Getty Images)

The inherent strength of religion cannot mask the fragility of Christian belief in Britain

10 February 2014 10:04

Terry Eagleton, the Marxist literary critic, has been something of a hero of mine since the publication of his Reason, Faith and Revolution, a thoroughgoing demolition of the Richard Dawkins… Continue reading

45 Comments
Image: Getty

‘A Radical Imagination’ – Doris Lessing in the Spectator

18 November 2013 13:34

Doris Lessing’s obituaries, as much as her writings, bear witness  to the great turbulences of the twentieth century. How many of us spent our childhood in two countries which have… Continue reading

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The trailer from Danny Boyle's recent National Theatre adaptation of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

What if Byron and the Shelleys had live tweeted from the Villa Diodati?

2 September 2013 13:38

It’s one of the most famous – indeed infamous – episodes in English literary history. In the summer of 1816 Lord Byron took a villa on the banks of Lake… Continue reading

2 Comments
Elmore Leonard has died aged 87.

Elmore Leonard dies aged 87

20 August 2013 15:18

Elmore Leonard has died aged 87. Leonard began his career as a hack and ended it as a modern master. His rule was: ‘if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it’. His writing became… Continue reading

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Two scenes in Henry VIII’s Psalter, illuminated by Jean Mallard, depict the king as David: (right) in the role of penitent and (left) fighting the mighty Goliath of Pope Paul III

The week in books – Tudors, thinkers, dreamers and boozers

9 August 2013 15:54

The book reviews in this week’s issue of the Spectator is worth the cover price. Here is a selection of quotes from some of them. The historian Anne Somerset enjoys… Continue reading

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Would you hide the cover of your book from prying eyes on the Tube?

Would you hide the cover of your book from prying eyes on the Tube?

1 August 2013 9:05

‘Would you mind if I asked what your book is?’ She was in her late-thirties, with dark hair and a serious demeanour. Her reply to my question took a few… Continue reading

3 Comments
A visitor examines 'The Illustrated Odyssey' of Marc Chagall (Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Which Ulysses is the most heroic?

29 July 2013 15:13

From ‘Ulysses’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson                                     Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows;… Continue reading

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Summer is a time for reading. Why not re-read a favourite book? (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

Summer reading? What about summer re-reading?

25 July 2013 10:17

What will you read over the summer? The newly announced Booker longlist? A selection of books from newspaper and magazine summer reading lists? A book that a Spectator columnist is… Continue reading

0 Comments
Pride and Prejudice Ball To Celebrate The 200th Anniversary Of The Book

Alexander Pope, mock-epic, modernity and misogyny

16 July 2013 12:01

from The Rape of the Lock And now, unveiled, the toilet stands displayed, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores With head… Continue reading

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Enthusiasts Take Part In The Annual Reenactment Of The Battle Of Hastings

The 10 “best” historical novels, sort of…

19 June 2013 11:35

The BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen, which began last Sunday, has led numerous books editors to pick their 10 best historical novels. I played this silly dinner… Continue reading

14 Comments
Prize winning novelist Ben Fountain warns that writers must never trust politicians.

Ben Fountain interview: Lies are an affront to writers because lying is the corruption of language

18 June 2013 16:23

Ben Fountain’s debut short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, was published in America eighteen years after he left his job at a Dallas real estate law firm to… Continue reading

4 Comments
Visitors At The Hay Festival 2011

A dream come true

6 June 2013 10:03

It only took me twelve years as a published writer to get round to seeing one of my own books being printed. But when it came the experience set off… Continue reading

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(MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sheila Heti: ‘I did worry putting sex in the book would eclipse everything else’

31 May 2013 9:27

There is a question which writers (and readers) of literary fiction get tired of hearing: which bits really happened? The traditional and respectable answer is that this doesn’t matter. Everything… Continue reading

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A picture of despair. Nick Compton walks back to the pavilion following his dismissal during the recent test match against New Zealand. (LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Amateur fantasies and professional realities

30 May 2013 10:05

As was to be expected, it rained. Drizzle was in the air at times yesterday when the Authors XI turned out to mark 150 years of The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack… Continue reading

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Fireworks explode over the stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, an event that catalysed the measure of Chinese self-confidence captured in Chan Koon Chung's The Fat Years.

Chan Koon Chung – banned in China

29 May 2013 10:29

Chan Koon Chung’s previous novel, The Fat Years, was set in a gently dystopian Beijing of 2013, when a whole month is missing from the Chinese public’s awareness, and everyone… Continue reading

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pins2

Jane Austen’s pinny

28 May 2013 9:30

This is the third entry in an occasional series by Christopher Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian Library. You can read the other instalments here. It’s almost two… Continue reading

2 Comments