The Disappearance of Michel Houellebecq: French chin-stroking at its very best

23 September 2014 14:59

Just when you thought Bernard-Henri Lévy had taken a chin-stroking national stereotype as far as it could possibly go, you open Le Monde‘s business pages and see this. Bernard Maris,… Continue reading

Alain de Botton. Photo: Francesco Guidicini

Alain de Botton: We need art to help us to live and to die

24 March 2014 9:55

The world’s big national museums are deeply glamorous places. We keep quiet in their hallowed halls, we wander the galleries in reverence, we look at a caption here and there,… Continue reading

Alain de Botton. Photo: Vincent Mentzel

Why Alain de Botton is a moron

19 March 2014 13:08

It’s become too easy of late to be rude about Alain de Botton. His banal aphoristic “insights” and homilies on Twitter, his efforts to turn the media away from “meanness”… Continue reading

Harry Styles has been offering fans some insights into his political philosophy.

Political philosophy, Harry-style

1 November 2013 14:34

Boy-band super-hero Harry Styles proclaimed on Twitter earlier today: ‘All social change comes from the passion of individuals.’ His shrieking fans were enthused by this insight. Some even asked if they… Continue reading

plato-head shot

Plato – slave-owning aristocrat or homosexual mystic?

30 July 2013 15:45

For over two millennia, the writings of Plato had been at the very core of a Western education. Yet  by the dawn of the 21st century, Plato appeared marginalized to… Continue reading


Kenneth Minogue RIP

1 July 2013 10:07

The weekend brought the sad news of the death of Kenneth Minogue. Intellectually and physically active to the last, he died on Friday at the age of 82, while returning… Continue reading

Fireworks light up the night sky above the National Stadium also known as the "Bird's Nest" during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 24, 2008.(FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Timothy Beardson interview: It’s urgent that China reforms

25 June 2013 11:32

Recent convulsions in China’s banks will not, I suspect, have surprised Timothy Beardson, a sinophile, veteran Hong Kong financier and author of Stumbling Giant: The Threats to China’s Future. He… Continue reading

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Twin girls hold twin babies at the second annual twins festival in Beijing. (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

The odd couples

21 June 2013 10:52

This is the first post in an occasional series about rediscovering old science books. Twins, Lawrence Wright posits, pose a threat to the established order. People have long been scared… Continue reading

Tory backbencher Jesse Norman. Picture: PA

Jesse Norman interview: Edmund Burke, our chief of men

24 May 2013 9:00

When he arrived in London, Burke had a very brief career in law. He soon dedicated his time to critical thinking, writing and politics. Burke published a number of ground… Continue reading

The Sun Sets Behind The Houses Of Parliament

Michael Sandel interview: the marketization of everything is undermining democracy

22 May 2013 9:41

Michael Sandel is a political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his  ‘Justice’ course, which he has taught for over two decades. Sandel first… Continue reading

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The crown of England being offered to William of Orange (1650 -1702) and his wife, Mary (1662 - 1694) by the Lords and Commons at Whitehall. Engraving by H. Bourne from the fresco by Edward Matthew Ward in the new Houses of Parliament, painted circa 1860. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Glorious Revolution and small ‘c’ conservatism

13 May 2013 9:45

From a dialogue  between a non-juring clergyman and his wife by Edward ‘Ned’ Ward Wife: Why will you prove so obstinate, my dear, And rather choose to starve, than yield to… Continue reading

Jared Cohen, co-author, with Eric Schmidt, of 'The New Digital Age'.

Interview: Jared Cohen and The New Digital Age

8 May 2013 11:29

Jared Cohen is Director of Google Ideas, a think tank set up by Google dedicated to understanding global challenges by applying technological solutions. Cohen is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow… Continue reading

A woman campaigns for the taxing of rich people at an Occupy protest. Picture: Getty.

Interview: David Graeber, leading figure of Occupy

3 May 2013 9:00

The anarchist movement in the United States has had the support of leading libertarian intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky; but it has lacked a figure who could transform its guiding… Continue reading

Sunset In China's Countryside

Schroder – one man’s journey into night

30 April 2013 10:54

Erik Schroder is an East German who last saw his mother when he was five years old. In 1975 only his unspeaking father crossed the Wall with him into West… Continue reading

Should we be worried if Google rules the world?

Interview with a writer: Evgeny Morozov

26 April 2013 10:15

Evgeny Morozov is an iconoclast. He believes that technology, if abused or misused, has the potential to make society less free. His latest book, To Save Everything , Click Here,… Continue reading

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The late Douglas Adams relaxes at home June 12, 2000 in Santa Barbara, CA. (Photo by Dan Callister/Online USA)

Douglas Adams’s big idea

12 March 2013 14:05

Had he not died 12 years ago, Douglas Adams would have been 61 yesterday. Google produced a doodle in his memory, and the Guardian published an interesting piece which declared… Continue reading

Lars Iyer says that his books attempt to puncture the modern world's sentimental view of the past and sentimental hopes for the future. (Image: Getty)

Interview with a writer: Lars Iyer

6 March 2013 9:40

People call Lars Iyer a ‘cult author,’ which is odd, because almost every paper to have reviewed him from here to Los Angeles has praised him endlessly. The ‘cult’ thing… Continue reading

The tomb of Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey, a prime example of the Elizabethans' desire to outlive death. Image: Getty

Discovering poetry: Samuel Daniel and the art of outliving death

4 March 2013 16:52

from Delia When winter snows upon thy golden hairs, And frost of age hath nipped thy flowers near; When dark shall seem thy day that never clears, And all lies… Continue reading

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The Silence of Animals hi res

Interview with a writer: John Gray

22 February 2013 9:59

In his new book The Silence of Animals, the philosopher John Gray explores why human beings continue to use myth to give purpose to their lives. Drawing from the material… Continue reading

Ang Lee at the UK premier of Life of Pi. Image: Getty

Life of Pi asks questions of man, not God

8 January 2013 10:00

I’m conducting an experiment: Life of Pi concerns a basic metaphor about faith, how is that metaphor rendered in print and on screen? I’ve re-read the book. I’ve deliberately (at this stage)… Continue reading

Night falls on Seattle, and Tom Hanks' vigil at the telephone begins. One of the known 'disectia' that Nicholson Baker devotes himself to is 'Sleepless in Seatlle'. Image: Getty.

The Way the World Works by Nicholson Baker – an ideal Christmas present

28 November 2012 9:51

Nicholson Baker is intensely interested. He looks at the world like he has never seen it before, fixating on the mundane and capitalizing upon the strange lacunae which exist between… Continue reading

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Professor Mark Mazower believes that the era of international government is passing. What would such an event mean for the nation state? Image: Getty.

Governing the world – an interview with Mark Mazower

12 October 2012 13:36

‘People begin to feel that… there are bonds of international duty binding all the nations of the earth together.’ This quotation, which resonates so clearly as yet more blood is shed in… Continue reading

China's Consumption Of Coal Steadily On The Rise

Should literature be political?

8 October 2012 17:46

‘Should literature be political?’ Njabulo S Ndebele asked Open Book Cape Town the other day. Ndebele, a renowned academic in South Africa, has written a précis of his speech for… Continue reading

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A Possible Life is a rewarding and subtly engrossing novel. Image: Getty.

Review – Sebastian Faulks’s A Possible Life

14 September 2012 17:38

In a promotional video clip, Sebastian Faulks describes his new novel, A Possible Life, as like ‘a symphony in five movements… or an album in which the tracks are separate… Continue reading

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Are our ancient liberal institutions all that liberal anymore? Image: Getty

Freedom undermined by termites

12 September 2012 17:46

I have been reading a new book by Theodore Dalrymple which I highly recommend. Readers of the Spectator will need no introduction to the good doctor, his fresh prose or… Continue reading