LRB Cover
Volume 38 Number 16
11 August 2016

LRB blog 26 August 2016

August Kleinzahler
The Van Gelder Sound

26 August 2016

Geoff Roberts
German Lessons

25 August 2016

James Morris
By the Black Sea


10 December 1987

Alan Bennett
Where was I in 1987?

5 July 2012

David Runciman

17 July 2014

Emily Witt
Burning Man

In the next issue, which will be dated 8 September, Thomas Nagel on terrorism.


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Paul Taylor

Machine Learning

The conventional way of writing, say, a chess program has been to identify and encode the principles underpinning sound play. That isn’t the way DeepMind’s software works. DQN doesn’t know how to repel an invasion. It doesn’t know that the electronic signals it is processing depict aliens. DeepMind searches the game data for correlations, which it interprets as significant features. More

Mark Ford

Eliot speaks in tongues

T.S. Eliot’s mind was a vast, labyrinthine echo chamber, and perhaps more than any other canonical poet of the English language, with the possible exception of his great antagonist John Milton, he was conscious of the previous uses by other writers of the words he deployed in his poems. But what exactly is the difference between an interesting allusion or echo and a mere verbal coincidence? More

Colin Burrow

Iris Murdoch’s Incompatibilities

Sometimes her novels read as though a French farce were being redescribed by Sartre. Sometimes Hugo (as it were) pitches up for no apparent reason other than to tell the protagonist he needs to sort out his karma, and everyone suddenly falls in love. At these moments it’s hard to tell if Murdoch’s fictional tongue is in her cheek, or if it’s just poor engineering in the plot, or some deeper failure to recognise that people usually do things for some kind of reason. More

Katherine Rundell

Ferrets can be gods

Saki existed in a perfect storm; every element of his circumstances contributed to the lunatic clarity of his imagination. The necessity for secrecy in his romantic life perhaps made it natural for him to write obliquely, to use tigers and wolves and pigs to talk about sex and death and social climbing. Living a half-hidden life, he was a man who saw the hidden wildness of things. His short stories burst with the possibilities of a world in which strangeness is bone-deep. More

Short Cuts
Jon Day

At the Movies
Michael Wood

At the Fitzwilliam
Ian Patterson


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