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Literature

The sun sets over the river Liffey in Dublin. (BARRY CRONIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Interview with a writer: Kevin Maher

5 April 2013 10:30

Kevin Maher’s debut novel The Fields is set in the suburban streets of south Dublin in 1984. The story is narrated by Jim Finnegan: an innocent 13-year-old boy who lives… Continue reading

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Field Marshal Alan Brooke's diaries will keep our 21 year old interested and provide invaluable advice about leadership and working with difficult superiors. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

21 books for a godson, pt. 2

26 March 2013 11:30

This post is the second half of a list of 21 books that a man might give to his godson on the occasion of his twenty-first birthday.That is novels done.… Continue reading

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Martin Amis's 'Money' is just the sort of book a godfather should give his godson on reaching his majority. (Frederick M. Brown/Online USA)

21 books for a godson, pt. 1

25 March 2013 11:30

There is much to be said for godfathers. They offer the wisdom of maturity without the complications of direct filial ties. Likewise there is much to be said for 21st… Continue reading

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Heavy Snow Fall Hits Southern England

Death Comes For The Poets by Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams – review

19 March 2013 10:00

Death Comes For The Poets is an unliterary book with a highly literary subject. It’s usually done the other way around: exquisite quodrilogies about American car salesmen; towering works about… Continue reading

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Mo Yan collects the Nobel Prize for Literature last December. Image: Getty

The world has yet to see the best of Chinese literature

13 March 2013 10:18

- Hong Kong  Imagine if every British novel published since the 1940s was about the Second World War. That’s about as accurate a view of contemporary China held by readers… Continue reading

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Books do a furnish a room; but what to do when they take over the room! (Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Books do furnish a room

7 March 2013 10:55

The first time you run out of space for your books is a rite of passage for booklovers. It’s the moment that you realise the extent of your addiction to… Continue reading

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The new poison pen. Image: Getty

The Leather Case

16 February 2013 15:44

Last year I wrote an unpatriotic column for the Observer. I said that while American literary and journalistic frauds tended to be simple men, who lied and plagiarised to boast… Continue reading

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English Romantic poet George Gordon Byron in Albanian dress, painted by Thomas Phillips circa 1815. Image: Getty

Young Romantics quiz

6 February 2013 11:45

Byron may have been mad, bad and dangerous to know, but how’s your knowledge of the rest of the Young Romantics? Are you a connoisseur of Keats, or a specialist on… Continue reading

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The skull of King Richard III. Image: Getty

Reading Richard III

4 February 2013 13:32

The confirmation that bones found beneath a Leicester car park are ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ those of Richard III has launched a deluge of familiar puns. ‘A hearse! A hearse! My… Continue reading

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For John Burnside, happiness can be found in simple pleasures like a cup of coffee or a walk in the snow. Image: Getty.

Interview with a writer: John Burnside

18 January 2013 11:50

It’s Friday at 10am in a remote field in Fife. John Burnside is taking his morning walk, whilst simultaneously attempting to conduct a conversation with me down a dodgy telephone… Continue reading

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Paul Emsley's portrait of Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, presently showing at the National Portrait Gallery. Image: Getty

The Duchess of Cambridge, defining a portrait

14 January 2013 12:26

Poor Kate Middleton. In the royal tradition of artistic and literary representation, what defines her at this moment in time? The creepy feature on her wardrobe statistics in February’s Vogue?… Continue reading

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Some literary '13's for 2013. Image: Getty

Some literary thirteens for 2013

10 January 2013 15:28

I suspect I might not be the only one who finds it unnerving to be at the start of a year that features, so prominently, the number thirteen. 2013 –… Continue reading

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DickensBatman

The Costa Book Awards make history

2 January 2013 19:32

The Costa Book Awards has made its own history tonight by selecting, according to its press release, an all women shortlist* for the first time. Here are the category winners,… Continue reading

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POLL

The great books Spectator writers and others hate

21 December 2012 10:00

Find out which books PD James, Sam Leith, Susan Hill, Mark Amory, Barry Humphries and many more hate, then tell us about yours in the comments section. Craig Brown Which… Continue reading

44 Comments
The railways and the past are recurring themes of Sean O'Brien's frequently political but never preachy poetry. Image: Getty

Sean O’ Brien: Poetry is political, all writing is political

14 December 2012 11:55

Sean O’ Brien was born in London in 1952. Shortly afterwards, he moved to Hull, where he grew up, thus firmly cementing an allegiance to the North of England: a… Continue reading

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Mo Yan collects the Nobel Prize for Literature. Image: Getty

Mo Yan’s malignant apology for ‘necessary’ censorship

11 December 2012 15:58

The Chinese writer Mo Yan collected the Nobel Prize for Literature last night. In his acceptance lecture, he reiterated his view that a degree of censorship is ‘necessary’ in the… Continue reading

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Image: Getty

Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling and the albatross of success

6 December 2012 9:30

Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, has announced that her next book will be a picture book. Rather than writing a follow-up dystopian adventure for her teenage readers, she… Continue reading

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DickensBatman

In defence of Giles Coren

30 November 2012 16:58

Giles Coren’s piece in the latest issue of the Spectator has caused a stir in the world of graphic novels (‘comic books’ to the uninitiated). He notes that two excellent… Continue reading

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Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Pip and Estella pose for pictures at the BFI's 'Great Expectations' gala night. Image: Getty

Mike Newell’s Great Expectations will leave you with great questions

30 November 2012 13:43

You cannot have failed to learn that a new film adaptation of Great Expectations has been released today. Publicity for the film is ubiquitous: posters of Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch… Continue reading

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There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. - Spectator Blogs

13 November 2012 23:02

My thanks to Bella Caledonia for republishing Robert Louis Stevenson’s splendid essay An Apology for Idlers on this the 162nd anniversary of that fine man’s birth. It is the grandest… Continue reading

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Samuel Richardson's Pamela - 'virtuous herione' or 'pert little minx'? Image: Getty

Puffing Pamela: Book hype, 18th-century style

7 November 2012 17:11

There are quite a few candidates competing for the title of the first novel in English literature. You can make a strong case for Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, or… Continue reading

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Bobbies on the beat. Sir Kenneth Newman and chum beat the areas of North London described by Keith Ridgeway in Hawthorne & Child. Image: Getty

Review – Hawthorn and Child, by Keith Ridgeway

30 October 2012 10:30

‘The body is a multitude of ways of coming apart’ writes Keith Ridgeway in his most recent novel Hawthorn & Child. He describes these ways. It can be beaten, broken… Continue reading

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Way Of The Cross Led By Pope Benedict XVI

Thornton Wilder’s theatrics in The Cabala

29 October 2012 10:30

I was on a date once in Atlanta, Georgia. We decided on the theatre and there was only one show playing, The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. After… Continue reading

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Jimmy Savile, national treasure and indemnified pervert. Those who created him need to be examined. Image: Getty

The Jimmy Savile scandal and Alexander Solzhenitsyn

25 October 2012 17:23

‘The line dividing good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being… This line is not static within us; it sways to and fro over the years. Even… Continue reading

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'Train Dreams', by Denis Johnson, is the story of 'the old way of American life'. Images: Getty

Back to the start – Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson

22 October 2012 10:01

Train Dreams, the Pulitzer nominated novella by playwright, poet and U.S National Book Award winning novelist Denis Johnson, is the life story of Robert Grainer, a man who ‘had one… Continue reading

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