Nicholas Spice

Nicholas Spice is consulting publisher of the LRB.

Of thesesix stories, ‘The Pole’, dated 2022, is the most recent. It is also much the longest: at 146 pages, it occupies two-thirds of the book. Four of the remaining five stories (dated between 2004 and 2019) concern episodes in the life of Elizabeth Costello, the fictional Australian novelist who first surfaced in J.M. Coetzee’s work in 1997 and who has made intermittent...

The conductor’s practical function – to direct the music – is overlaid with symbolism, and at the interface of the orchestra and the audience he is the recipient of two quite different waves of transference. At his back, an amorphous crowd of strangers beam expectation at him. They have paid to experience something amazing. Variously informed about what exactly he is doing, they are happy to submit themselves to his mystique and charisma. To them, he is the high priest, guardian of the sacred texts, the leader.

The Phonic and the Phoney: Being Hans Keller

Nicholas Spice, 4 February 2021

Two scenes​ from his teenage years in prewar Vienna defined Hans Keller’s later life: one a kind of heaven, the other a window on hell. He was a viola pupil of Oskar Adler, a doctor and musician, and took part in the famously select chamber music salons at Adler’s house in the Neubaugasse, where on Saturday afternoons the luminaries of Vienna would play string quartets and talk...

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice, 4 June 2020

I was in the Whittington Hospital for just over a week: a night in A&E, sitting on a trolley waiting for a bed; two days in an isolation room on one ward; six days in an isolation room on another. The illness climbed quickly to its apex and then subsided in a straight line towards recovery, although two months after symptoms first appeared, I am still not quite myself. I guess I should say that the experience was traumatic, but it was more Traum than trauma. Events took on a certain gratifying theatricality, rather as they do in dreams. I watched myself as the protagonist of an enthralling drama, even as I experienced it as acutely uncomfortable, lonely and, at times, frightening. To be a patient is to be a solipsist: for a while, the world revolves around you. This is why being ill as a child was so special – I had my mother to myself. And it was to childhood that I reverted throughout my time with Covid. 

Ne me touchez pas: Debussy’s Mission

Nicholas Spice, 24 October 2019

He understood that, in our minds, music and nature are connected through a web of metaphors of movement, that we animate nature and music through the third term of language: the light dances on the sea, the music heaves like water. At the same time, he was captivated by the states of mind and body elicited by nature: intimations, fleeting impressions, elusive sympathies, but also feelings of exhilaration with life. One way to think about Debussy’s music is as an invitation to attention: at its most rapt, his music seems itself to listen, and the act of listening to which it draws us becomes the value of which it speaks – its ‘content’.

With more than eight hundred high-grade items to choose from, London Reviews gets the number down to just 28. But already it is the third such selection from the London Review of Books. Is three...

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