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You Dying Nations

Jeremy Adler: Georg Trakl, 17 April 2003

Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... stretches from Hölderlin to Rilke and Celan. Unlike them, however, he is little known in Britain. Michael Hamburger’s translations established Hölderlin and Celan in English, but he was less fortunate with Trakl, and Decline, his pamphlet of 1952, was not reprinted. There was a larger selection by James Wright and Robert Bly in 1961; and Hamburger’s ...

Don’t pick your nose

Hugh Pennington: Staphylococcus aureus, 15 December 2005

... policeman, was suffering from a spreading infection of his face that had started with a rose thorn scratch. He had lost an eye and the infection had spread to his lungs and his shoulder. On 12 February 1941 he was injected with penicillin made by Howard Florey and his team. Alexander’s condition improved dramatically. Treatment continued for five ...

Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow, 29 November 2007

Woodlands 
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... thorny thickets where animals could not get at them. Once they had grown up and overtopped the thorn they created an oak grove. They did not reproduce beneath themselves, but grew up in new thickets in the savannah, to which their acorns had been carried by jays. Eventually, a grove would collapse from old age, grazing beasts would get in as it became ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: World Cup Diary, 22 July 2010

... have expected from Shankly: he had never played with him or managed him, on top of which Law was a thorn in Liverpool’s side.The real star of this World Cup has undoubtedly been the German coach, Joachim Löw, who has produced, from a team which was wholly unsung and given little chance when its captain, ...

In Fiery Letters

Mark Ford: F.T. Prince, 8 February 2018

Reading F.T. Prince 
by Will May.
Liverpool, 256 pp., £75, December 2016, 978 1 78138 333 9
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... I might have seemed at twenty-one A breathing body yet unborn, Or blown, and withering on the thorn –     Ten poor enigmas tied in one.It’s difficult to discuss Prince’s work without broaching the most contentious of these enigmas: like Eliot, in his twenties Prince appears to have been deeply confused about his sexuality, and at least part of ...

Swanker

Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... therefore became, so to speak, theatrical squared. Their situation also made them competitive. As Michael Young was to point out in The Rise of the Meritocracy, élites based on education lack the security of the old aristocracies of land and money. To live by one’s wits is a nervous business: every younger brain, each new foot on the educational ladder, is ...

Only in the Balkans

Misha Glenny: The Balkans Imagined, 29 April 1999

Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination 
by Vesna Goldsworthy.
Yale, 254 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07312 7
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Imagining the Balkans 
by Maria Todorova.
Oxford, 270 pp., £35, June 1997, 9780195087505
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... peasant who, having stumbled on political power, is unsure how to wield it. Reporting on Michael Portillo’s visit as defence minister to Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia in 1996, Anne Applebaum (coincidentally, for the Evening Standard) has a good old chuckle: Up and down the red carpets he walks, Her Majesty’s aircraft just behind ...

What’s in it for Obama?

Stephen Holmes: The Drone Presidency, 18 July 2013

The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at the Ends of the Earth 
by Mark Mazzetti.
Penguin, 381 pp., £22.50, April 2013, 978 1 59420 480 7
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... a favourite conceit of conservatives. Before he became attorney general in Bush’s second term, Michael Mukasey informed civil libertarians that they, and not those who illegally tortured prisoners of war, were going to have blood on their hands. The offence of the liberals, he claimed bizarrely in the Wall Street Journal, was to advocate judicial oversight ...

Rwanda in Six Scenes

Stephen W. Smith: Fables of Rwanda, 17 March 2011

... The EU electoral observers duly documented this self-restraint, but the head of their mission, Michael Cashman, agreed with the EU delegate in Kigali, David MacRae, not to go public about it – it might have raised uncomfortable questions. For his re-election in August 2010, Kagame approved a slight erosion of his Soviet-style popularity, allowing his ...

The Divisions of Cyprus

Perry Anderson, 24 April 2008

... War, and occasion for more or less unqualified self-congratulation, has left one inconspicuous thorn in the palm of Brussels. The furthest east of all the EU’s new acquisitions, even if the most prosperous and democratic, has been a tribulation to its establishment, one that neither fits the uplifting narrative of the deliverance of captive nations from ...

The Bergoglio Smile

Colm Tóibín: The Francis Papacy, 21 January 2021

... relationship with the new pope’. The doubts had started early. In 1977, an English Jesuit, Michael Campbell-Johnston, sent to Argentina to report on the order there, wrote that he was appalled that ‘our institute in Buenos Aires was able to function freely because it never criticised or opposed the government,’ and, according to Ivereigh, ‘he ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... were growing up, the only old framed photograph my brothers and I ever saw was of my grandfather Michael, a hero of the Second World War. And that’s always the way he was described to us, a war hero, the man who tried to save his Glasgow compatriots on HMS Forfar when it was struck by two torpedoes in December 1940. Except that story wasn’t true ...

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