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...


Samuel Johnson’s Criticism

Freya Johnston

Criticism,​ for Samuel Johnson, was female, her votaries for the most part malicious, ineffectual men. In an early issue of the Rambler from 1750, Criticism is presented as ‘the eldest daughter of Labour and of Truth’, charged by the Muses with distinguishing good from bad writing and duty-bound to confer immortality or oblivion. Eventually, worn out, she gives up trying to judge...


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...


Militant Constitutionalism

Martin Loughlin

In​ 1831, a young French aristocrat, charged by his government with reporting on American prison conditions, spent the year travelling in the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville’s inquiries into the penitentiary and its ideological underpinnings led him also to think about the character of the political regime. He published his reflections as Democracy in America (1835). Tocqueville...


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...

From the blog

At Columbia

Bruce Robbins

22 April 2024

It’s the first time the police have been invited onto Columbia’s campus since 1968. Like 1968, 2024 may go down as an inauspicious year for university administrations trying to defend the indefensible.

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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...


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,...


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...

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...


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),...


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...

At the Capitoline Museums


Christopher Siwicki

Not​ many artists merit an exhibition where none of their work is on display. But for the masters of classical Greece there is little choice: most of their paintings and sculptures have been lost or destroyed and what we know of them comes from the descriptions and copies of later generations. Fidia, at the Capitoline Museums in Rome until 5 May, is the first exhibition dedicated to the...

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,...


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...

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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