Women in Philosophy

Sophie Smith

Women in philosophy​ have always needed a special stroke of luck. Like men, they have usually had to be well-born, well-off, talented and – in the European tradition at least – white. But most women philosophers before the late 20th century needed something more: access to a man who held the uncommon view that women – or at least certain women – could be serious...


Where does culture come from?

Terry Eagleton

InJude the Obscure, Jude Fawley finds himself living in Beersheba, the area of Oxford we know as Jericho, home at the time to a community of craftsmen and artisans who maintained the fabric of the university. It doesn’t take Jude long to realise that he and his fellow craftsmen are, so to speak, the material base without which the intellectual superstructure of the colleges...


Atheistical Thoughts

Alexandra Walsham

In​ 1607 John Derpier, an argumentative Wiltshire gentleman, was hauled before an ecclesiastical court for publicly proclaiming ‘the most hereticall & damnable opinion (that there was noe god & noe resurrection, & that men died a death like beastes)’. Derpier’s audacity was compounded by the fact that he had made his assertion in a church and in the hearing of...


Pratt and Smith

Tom Crewe

It is not​ a coincidence that the quality of writers in Parliament has declined along with the quality of the political class – most of its contemporary representatives are poor at speaking and reasoning, with no sign of what Denis Healey called a ‘hinterland’ – and that this has been simultaneous with a collapse in respect. Is Chris Bryant an exception? Labour MP for...


Montenegro’s Pivot

Alexander Clapp

In August​ 2011, a Montenegrin sailor called Goran Radoman fled the scene of a late-night car crash in Havana. He was arrested three months later at José Martí International Airport and sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter. According to the Serbian TV channel Insajder, the highest levels of the Serbian state lobbied the Cuban government for Radoman’s...


Three Genocides

Eyal Weizman

On 11 January​, at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, South Africa argued that Israel’s actions in Gaza have been ‘genocidal in character’, since ‘they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group.’ Lawyers cited the killing of 23,000 Palestinians (the number is now more...

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Short Cuts

Total Eclipse

Chris Lintott

It is very difficult​ to describe what I witnessed on Monday, 8 April, standing in a field in Ohio a little after three in the afternoon. As the shadow of the Moon swept across the surrounding cornfields, engulfing the crowd that had gathered to watch the total solar eclipse, we were transported, briefly, to a place unlike anywhere else on Earth. The transition from partial to total eclipse...


Famous Seamus

John Kerrigan

Towards​ the end of 1997, Seamus Heaney wrote to his friend Derek Mahon from Magdalen College, Oxford. ‘Amigo, Here briefly, at the fall of the leaf,’ he began, archly but affably. ‘The deer-park misty, the choir angelic, the heart aswim.’ Mahon had just published The Yellow Book, a collection of long-lined, sophisticated poems steeped in Baudelaire and the fin de...


On Pockets

Susannah Clapp

When I complain​ it is sexist, the men on the door think I am having a laugh. Every week before being allowed into a theatre I have to prove I’m not dangerous by opening my bag for inspection. Meanwhile my male companion is invariably waved through – though that bulge in his pocket could be a knife.

Thanks to Hannah Carlson, I now regard this ritual as part of a widespread garment...


On Hisham Matar

Tim Parks

Hisham Matar​ doesn’t need to look far for his subject matter. In his remarkable memoir The Return (2016) he explained that a privileged childhood in a wealthy Libyan family turned to nightmare when his father, leader of an anti-Gaddafi insurrection, was kidnapped in Cairo in 1990 and imprisoned in Tripoli. He eventually disappeared, never to re-emerge. As a result Matar’s...

At the Movies

‘The Delinquents’

Michael Wood

Rodrigo Moreno’sThe Delinquents has taken a while to reach us. Its premiere was at Cannes in May 2023. The fate of the film imitates, in a way, its main theme. It’s about getting lost, or not getting lost enough. It has been described as a heist movie and a comedy. These labels are appropriate only if every bank robbery is a heist, and if we call films comedies when we...


Russia in Central Asia

Greg Afinogenov

It’sa crowded field, but the most unsubtle of all 19th-century Russian paintings might be Vasily Vereshchagin’s 1871 canvas The Apotheosis of War. In an arid landscape, a towering pyramid of human skulls is being picked over by crows, with ruined Islamicate architecture in the background. This heavy-metal album cover avant la lettre was dedicated ‘to all great conquerors,...

At the Perimeter

On Shuvinai Ashoona

Emily LaBarge

Ablue creature​ – part platypus, part squid, part amorphous squiggle – scuttles behind a pale three-headed figure with one webbed foot. A naked human form being consumed by (or is it wearing? becoming one with?) a large orange octopus stands with an empty box of Kellogg’s cornflakes under one bare foot. A red-haired figure, placid face peeking out of its raised parka hood,...


Above the Altar

Charles Hope

Florence has always​ been at the heart of any history of Renaissance art. The two most obvious reasons for this are the survival, especially in the city itself, of a very large number of works of art from that period, and the influence of Vasari’s Lives, which is mainly about Florentine artists. For the 15th century, the period of Masaccio, Botticelli and the young Leonardo da Vinci,...


Patrick deWitt’s Dioramas

Nicole Flattery

Patrick deWitt​ is the sort of writer you imagine checking his emails on an old desktop computer in the library. His five deceptively simple novels suggest pleasant, old-fashioned things. They hinge on traditional plot devices – misunderstandings, a letter delivered or undelivered, a chance meeting. There is no modern technology here. In deWitt’s first novel, Ablutions (2009),...

Close Readings 2024

In our pioneering podcast subscription, contributors explore different areas of literature through a selection of key works. This year it’s Adam Shatz with Judith Butler, Pankaj Mishra and Brent Hayes Edwards on revolutionary thought of the 20th century, Thomas Jones and Emily Wilson on truth and lies in Greek and Roman literature and Colin Burrow and Clare Bucknell on satire. Listen to all three series for just £4.99 a month or £49.99 for the year.

Read more about Close Readings 2024

LRB Screen x Mubi: 'Quartet'

The second of this year's six LRB screenings at the Garden Cinema, in partnership with MUBI, is James Ivory’s vivid and rarely screened adaptation of Jean Rhys’s 1928 novel. Rhys's biographer Miranda Seymour will introduce and discuss the film with Gareth Evans.

Read more about LRB Screen x Mubi: 'Quartet'
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