What was the ghetto?

Erin Maglaque

In his book16 ottobre 1943, Giacomo Debenedetti describes the deportation of Rome’s Jews to the death camps. When the soldiers came in the early evening, everyone in the neighbourhood was at home.

The Jews of the Regola quarter were still in the habit of going to sleep early. Shortly after dark they were all in their homes. Perhaps the memory of an ancient curfew is still in their...


Adorno's Aesthetics

Owen Hatherley

Adorno​ is easily parodied. Photos on social media show him frog-like, myopic and bald, denouncing the willing consumption of dross, the personal embodiment of a refusal to ‘let people enjoy things’. Another meme features Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons derisively brandishing a copy of Minima Moralia: ‘You ever sat down and read this thing?’ (In the original,...


Back to Bouillon

Patrick McGuinness

Iwas made​ in the small industrial town of Bouillon, in the Belgian Ardennes, where my mother came from and most of the family still lives. One aunt and uncle lived opposite, another lived forty kilometres away on the Luxembourg border, and our cousins lived next door. My mother was the only one of her siblings or close relatives to leave, but when she did she went far enough away to make up...


On the ‘Village Voice’

Vivian Gornick

In themid-1960s, the Village Vanguard jazz club in Greenwich Village held Monday night speak-outs. At one of them – an evening billed as ‘Art and Politics’ – the Black poet and playwright LeRoi Jones (soon to become Amiri Baraka) held forth, along with the Black saxophonist Archie Shepp and the white painter Larry Rivers. The audience was composed almost entirely of...


Primordial Black Holes

David Kaiser

For​ more than fifty years, physicists have been stumped by dark matter. Careful measurement of a range of phenomena, from the motion of enormous clusters of galaxies to the rate at which individual galaxies spin, have indicated that all the stuff astronomers can see – the trillions of stars dotted across the night sky – contributes just a fraction of the total mass of the...


Trouble with the Troubles Act

Daniel Trilling

Andy Seaman​ felt out of place when, on 26 May 2022, he walked into the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith. Andy has little connection to Ireland; he’s from East London and his family’s roots are in Dominica. But earlier that day he had heard on the radio that the centre was hosting an event run by the organisation Troubles, Tragedy and Trauma. He told me that he felt...

Don’t take our word for it

Don’t take our word for it

Subscribe to the LRB – perfect for anyone with an interest in history, politics, literature and the arts.


Surrealism's Influence

Hal Foster

Although​ André Breton wasn’t the first to use the term ‘surrealism’, he made it his own with his first Manifesto in 1924. There he defined the fledgling movement as a ‘quest’ to discover ‘the marvellous’ in the mundane and to work towards the ‘future resolution’ of dreaming and waking. While this lofty goal was new enough, the...


Keeping Up with the Toynbees

Stefan Collini

Have Britain​’s leading intellectuals all been related to one another? While the answer to the question in that bald form is clearly no, a suspicion persists that in the past 150 years a higher proportion of intellectual figures of note in this country have been interconnected by ties of blood and marriage than has been the case elsewhere. It is not easy to turn this suspicion into a...

Short Cuts

In Calais

Georgie Newson

On​ 23 May, the day after he called a general election, Rishi Sunak said in a radio interview that his government’s flagship Rwanda deportation scheme will only go ahead if the Tories are re-elected on 4 July. This admission came as a surprise: many had assumed that part of the rationale for calling an early election was to get a campaign boost as the flights got underway. For anyone...


Colm Tóibín’s ‘Long Island’

Blake Morrison

Novelists​ don’t usually care for screen adaptations of their work. But the film versions of Atonement, The Remains of the Day and The English Patient do no great disservice to the books. And Colm Tóibín wasn’t unhappy with Nick Hornby’s screenplay for Brooklyn, despite two big changes to the ending. In the novel, when the insidious Enniscorthy shopkeeper Miss...


Cuba Speaks

Rachel Nolan

In​ 1968, Fidel Castro invited an American anthropologist called Oscar Lewis to interview Cubans about their lives. Lewis was famous for an oral history project, conducted in a Mexico City slum, which he had turned into a book called The Children of Sánchez (1961). By recounting a poor family’s struggles and hustles, legal and otherwise, Lewis angered the country’s ruling...


On the Nightingale

Mary Wellesley

We walked​ in the darkness beneath beeches and hornbeams until, suddenly, we heard the sound of birdsong, an ethereal noise, a sound associated with daytime. What bird would sing the song of day two hours after dusk? Only a creature of myth, a night-singer, the nihtegala – from the Old English nihte and galan, to sing, call, enchant.

For thousands of years this night-singer’s song...

At the Petit Palais

On Théodore Rousseau

Sarah Gould

On​ hot summer days, Parisians escape to the suburb of Fontainebleau. After the Château Royal, the forest is the city’s second monument, or at least that’s the way Théodore Rousseau saw it: a refuge from inflation, pollution, noise and epidemics (in 1849, artists confined themselves there to escape a cholera outbreak), and an inheritance. From the 1830s, Rousseau,...

From the archive

Campus Speech

Amia Srinivasan

An open letter​ is an unloved thing. Written by committee and in haste, it is a monument to compromise: a minimal statement to which all signatories can agree, or – worse – a maximal statement that no signatory fully believes. Some academics have a general policy against signing them. I discovered that was true of some of my Oxford colleagues last year, when I drafted and...

From the archive

The Shoah after Gaza

Pankaj Mishra

In​ 1977, a year before he killed himself, the Austrian writer Jean Améry came across press reports of the systematic torture of Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons. Arrested in Belgium in 1943 while distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets, Améry himself had been brutally tortured by the Gestapo, and then deported to Auschwitz. He managed to survive, but could never look at his torments...

Close Readings 2024

In our pioneering podcast subscription, contributors explore different areas of literature through a selection of key works. This year it’s revolutionary thought of the 20th century, truth and lies in the ancient world, and satire.

Read more about Close Readings 2024

Partner Events, Spring-Summer 2024

The latest LRB Screen, a special event marking the centenary of Kafka’s death at the Hay Festival, an evening of screenings of Sarah Maldoror’s films at the Garden Cinema, and more – check back for seasonal announcements.

Read more about Partner Events, Spring-Summer 2024

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences