LRB Cover
Volume 41 Number 21
7 November 2019

LRB blog 11 November 2019

Christopher Bertram
Architecture of Exclusion

8 November 2019

James Butler
Strange Bedfellows

7 November 2019

The Editors
Talking Politics 199: Esther Duflo


10 October 2019

Patricia Lockwood
Updike Redux

16 June 1983

John Bayley

10 May 2001

Hilary Mantel
Helen Duncan

In the next issue, which will be dated 21 November, John Lahr on Cole Porter’s Letters.

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Rosemary Hill

Auberon Waugh

While his men were getting into position, he noticed that something was blocking the elevation of the machine gun on the front of his armoured car. He got out to fix it, taking the opportunity to ‘seize the barrel from in front and give it a good wiggle’. As recounted in his autobiography, the incident unfolds in a laconic slow motion: ‘I realised that it had started firing. No sooner had I noticed this than I observed with dismay that it was firing into my chest. Moving aside pretty sharpish, I walked to the back of the armoured car and lay down.’ Six bullets had gone through him, inflicting injuries that compromised his health for the rest of his life and contributed to his early death at the age of 61 in 2001. The journalism with which he made his name took essentially the same approach. More

Deborah Friedell

‘The Testaments’

After she wrote The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood created sci-fi dystopias – she prefers the term ‘speculative fiction’ – chock-full of viral pandemics, antibiotic resistance, mass flooding and forest fires, crop failure, mass extinction. No current anxiety is left behind. Governments become subservient to wicked multinationals; every other child has autism; coastal cities disappear one by one. In these novels, the status of women is no longer in dispute, just in time for the world to end, in a surfeit of ways, including starvation as a result of overpopulation. Atwood herself seemed to have moved on from the concerns of Gilead, even if her fans hadn’t, but then, she says, Trump’s election ‘put wind in my sails’. She wanted to answer the question: how does Gilead end? More

Hal Foster

Change at MoMA

All the change is good, but not if we lose the plot altogether; there is no need for MoMA to mix and match to the extent that Tate Modern does. So, too, all the collaboration is good, but not if the voices of the various curators drown each other out. A protean display in frequent circulation might also be a prophylactic against criticism– Proteus shape-shifted in order not to answer questions, after all. There may be another, unintended consequence: if iconic works like Les Demoiselles d’Avignon are almost always on view, the flux elsewhere might render them more monumental, not less. More

Christopher Clark

Hitler in the Head

Knausgaard recalls the sensation of near nausea that overcame him as he began reading Mein Kampf: ‘Hitler’s words and Hitler’s thoughts were thereby admitted to my own mind and for a brief moment became a part of it.’ Brendan Simms confesses a similar apprehension: ‘the author,’ he writes, ‘has tried throughout to get into Hitler’s mind, without letting [Hitler] get into his.’ Whether Hitler gets into our minds, or we mislay something of our own inside his, it’s clear that this strange and hateful man, who has been dead for 74 years, is still messing with our heads. More

Short Cuts
Joanna Biggs

At the Movies
Michael Wood

At the David Parr House
Eleanor Birne


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