LRB Cover
Volume 41 Number 22
21 November 2019

LRB blog 19 November 2019

Anna Aslanyan
At the White Hotel

18 November 2019

Jamie Mackay
In Venice

15 November 2019

James Butler
‘We can afford this’

MOST READ

10 January 1983

Clive James
Diary

15 August 2019

Andrew O’Hagan
Jeffrey Epstein’s Little Black Book

4 August 2005

Lawrence Rosen
Misreading Muslim Extremism

In the next issue, which will be dated 5 December, Patricia Lockwood on Edna O’Brien, Adam Tooze on Emil Nolde, Freya Johnston on the history of the pocket.

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Meehan Crist

California Burns

I searched for #Kincadefire on Twitter and the first post that popped up showed a shaky video shot from the front seat of a car barrelling through a gauntlet of fire. The car was weaving down a two-lane road at night, the view through the windshield obscured by smoke, the darkness lit by the flashing tail-lights of an emergency vehicle just ahead and the red glow of flames blazing through brushwood along either side. As I watched the car navigate this hellscape, I realised that the scene was familiar. It looked just like a video I saw after the Camp Fire. That video had left me shaken. This one did not. I’d already assimilated what was, a year earlier, an unimaginable horror. As we glide along the path of our own destruction, this is how we normalise it – one tweet at a time. More

Patrick Cockburn

After al-Baghdadi

Until recently, the chances of an IS revival looked slim. Friends and enemies had both suffered the murderous violence of its rule and had no wish to repeat the experience. An organisation as ruthless as IS isn’t going to seek popular approval before it acts but it can’t rely wholly on intimidation to gather recruits for a new campaign: it needs to retain some sympathy among the Sunni community at large. More important, it has always thrived on chaos: with its rivals at one another’s throats, it could exploit the vacuum of political and military power. For much of this year, chaos seemed to be on the way out, as normal life gradually returned to former battle zones in both Syria and Iraq – unpropitious conditions for IS. But in October the situation changed. More


Barbara Newman

Chaucer’s Voices

Every age creates its own Chaucer. For Eustache Deschamps, a contemporary, he was the ‘grant translateur’. For Hoccleve, a disciple, he was ‘my deere maistir’ and ‘the firste fyndere [inventive poet] of our fair langage’. The 15th century revered him for his eloquence, while the 20th century gave us many Chaucers: genial naif, apostle of courtly love, austere Augustinian moralist, sycophantic courtier, ironist and, not least, duelling misogynist and feminist versions. In Marion Turner’s capacious biography – the first since Derek Pearsall’s in 1992 and the first ever by a woman – Chaucer is Bakhtinian and plural, a man of many voices. More

Jonathan Parry

The Party Paradox

Will Remain – or Rejoin – persist as a potent political identity, or eventually lose traction? Will Labour be able to return politics to ‘normality’ – especially if it manages to neutralise or turn to advantage its ‘Corbynite’ image? Or will the later stages of Brexit create new tensions, over the extension of transitional arrangements, over the Union, or over the relationship with Trump’s United States? Will parliaments remain hung and create a constitutional crisis, bringing into question the electoral system, prompting a movement in favour of proportional representation or something else? More

Short Cuts
Chris Mullin

At Tate Modern
Eleanor Nairne


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Homero Aridjis

On Octavio Paz and Marie-José Tramini

After Marie-José’s death, the authorities began the inspection of her four properties in Mexico City. They discovered a vast quantity of books, art works (including her own collages), masses of documents, photographs of the couple, and unopened or unanswered correspondence, all covered in dust and in complete disarray. As far as they could tell, no one had entered most of the rooms in decades, especially one room that was under lock and key and housed the last letters Paz ever wrote. ‘A not particularly promising or pleasant panorama,’ said the director of Legal Affairs at the National Institute of Fine Arts, ‘and, above all, it stinks of cat.’ More

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