Category: Literature

The long wave goodbye: a review of Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism

The long wave goodbye: a review of Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism

‘This book makes no claim to be a “theory of everything”’ wrote Paul Mason at the start of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere, his 2012 investigation of the many protest movements to have emerged in the wake of the global debt crisis. Written in the heat of the historical moment, that book was indeed more reportage than economic analysis, its […]

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A mood on the march?

A mood on the march?

Eight years on from the global debt crisis, the most remarkable thing about US politics is that it remains the same asinine, catchpenny charade that it was in the decades leading up to it. Notwithstanding the devotees of the Tea Party, who after grabbing the wrong end of the stick with both hands proceeded to beat themselves into irrelevance, and […]

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On Anti-Semitism, by Frederic Raphael

On Anti-Semitism, by Frederic Raphael

The first thing you find when you open Anti-Semitism is an Errata slip informing you that its author, Frederic Raphael, has mistaken D. H. Lawrence for T. E. Lawrence, Arthur Koestler for Arthur Schnitzler and the figure of 16,000 for 1,600 (the number of Jews killed in Jedwabne, Poland, in 1941). This is not a great start; one is entitled […]

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A review of Christopher Hitchens’ And Yet …

A review of Christopher Hitchens’ And Yet …

The front cover of And Yet … strikes a defiant note, showing its author, Christopher Hitchens, doing the two things that killed him: chugging large glasses of Johnnie Walker Black Label and smoking cigarettes down to the filter. But the more interesting challenge thrown down by this book – a collection of essays, reviews and opinion pieces published in the […]

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Review: The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott

Review: The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott

‘Events, dear boy, events,’ British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is said to have replied when asked what was most likely to blow his government off course. What goes for politicians goes for writers too, as I discovered for myself on 14 September, when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. At that time I was writing my own book […]

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From the archive: the Auden centenary

Parnassus after all is not a mountain Reserved for A.1. climbers such as you; It’s got a park, it’s got a public fountain. The most I ask is leave to share a pew With Bradford or with Cottam, that will do … Reading these lines from ‘Letter to Lord Byron’ (1936) on this, the occasion of their author’s centenary, one […]

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Review: David Brooks’ The Road to Character

Review: David Brooks’ The Road to Character

‘I was born with a natural disposition toward shallowness’ writes New York Times columnist David Brooks in his introduction to The Road to Character. As Brooks would be the first to admit, this isn’t a bad quality for a columnist to have: the demands of regular opinion writing are such that the big-name commentator is bound to sail close to […]

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Just add water: a review of Running Out? by Ruth Morgan

‘I take a bath every month,’ Elizabeth I is purported to have said, ‘whether I need one or not’. Clearly, hygiene standards change, and it is very honest of Ruth A. Morgan to confess, in her preface to Running Out?, to her ‘love affair with the washing machine’ and ‘penchant for long, hot showers’. But, like many Western Australians, she […]

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‘I grow old … I grow old’: ‘Prufrock’ at 100

One hundred years ago this month, Harriet Monroe sent T. S. Eliot a check for the handsome sum of eight guineas. The payment was for a poem of about 1000 words, which Monroe had published in the June 1915 issue of her Chicago-based magazine Poetry. Pressed upon her by her overseas editor, and fellow American, Ezra Pound – then busily […]

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Disciplined hope: on Irving Howe

In the long and laudable history of left-wing schism and self-inspection, this year’s winter issue of the progressive US magazine Dissent constituted something of a ‘shirtfront’ moment. It carried a piece by the political philosopher, and co-editor of the magazine, Michael Walzer, accusing the left, or a significant portion of it, of turning a blind eye to Islamic extremism. The […]

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