Henry and Hamlet

Barbara Everett, 22 February 2024

A work of art is what it is, even more than what it says. The only real way of seeing how Hamlet differs from Henry is to perceive the great difference in the plays that hold them, a mature tragedy and...

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Can I not be both? On A.K. Blakemore

Lola Seaton, 22 February 2024

The Manningtree Witches and The Glutton are both driven by an appetite for the ‘juiciest’ words – for ‘how they feel when you say them, or look at them’. But if a writer seems more invested in...

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To write about gay men in Britain in the 19th century should be to write about them as sons, brothers, friends, lovers, husbands, fathers, grandparents, members of a social class, employees, employers,...

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Space Aria: On Samantha Harvey

Adam Mars-Jones, 8 February 2024

There’s no boredom in Samantha Harvey’s Orbital and no pulse of adrenaline either. To be in orbit, after all, is to be held in a balance of forces. Any acceleration would nudge things out of kilter.

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This is how you smile: On Jamaica Kincaid

Ogazielum Mba, 8 February 2024

In Kincaid’s fictional world, to be someone’s daughter is to carry a great burden. To become yourself, you must reject, kill, refuse the mother, leave home, write books and essays against her, marry...

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Wreckage of Ellipses: On Enheduana

Anna Della Subin, 8 February 2024

The Sumerian priestess Enheduana managed the complex affairs of the temple and wrote poems, among them a collection of temple hymns that sought to accomplish in verse what her father, Sargon of Akkad,...

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Toxic Sausages: ‘Life Is Everywhere’

Chris Power, 25 January 2024

Are we being told that to seek truth in books is dangerous? Perhaps. But Lucy Ives also seems to be saying that books are things we pour meaning into as much as they dispense it. ‘A novel is a medicine...

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The Secret Life: On the poet Molly Brodak

Patricia Lockwood, 25 January 2024

You do walk through the world with some people. You don’t know anything about them, but you walk through the world; if they die, you do not get used to it.

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Hooted from the Stage: Living with Keats

Susan Eilenberg, 25 January 2024

Keats was deeply interested in suffering. He came by it naturally and also medically; sometimes it appeared as an impulse towards poetic tragedy. He wants what he has always wanted, to soothe pain. If...

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Emvowelled: Muddy Texts

Thomas Keymer, 25 January 2024

For early audiences, the thrill of the chase was part of the fun, and it was better to travel down the byways of interpretation, individually or through social consultation, than to arrive at a fixed conclusion....

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First-person narration is a rich medium in which difference can simply be suspended, without the need to announce the fact. For readers of a novel, the question ‘What is the gender affiliation of this...

Read more about Camden Town Toreros: ‘Corey Fah Does Social Mobility’

How to Hate Oil: On Upton Sinclair

Edmund Gordon, 4 January 2024

The modernity of Upton Sinclair’s California is at odds with his style. He had no time for recent developments in literary technique and his primary models were Zola (from whom he learned the importance...

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Wheatley’s writing was the supposed product of her leisure time rather than her enslaved labour. She imitated white aesthetics while drawing attention to her Blackness in ways that mixed humility with...

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In discussions of translation, we hear a lot about difficulty, impossibility, loss, riches, invention, triumph – all justified and interesting avenues. But texts may suggest something else: agreement,...

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Getting the Ick: Consent in Shakespeare

John Kerrigan, 14 December 2023

Consent could mean, as now, agreement to a proposal, but Shakespeare’s plays reflect social conditions in which consent between lovers depends on the consent given by friends and family. As Petruchio...

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Paper Grave: On Scholastique Mukasonga

Kevin Okoth, 14 December 2023

The Hutu authorities​ in Rwanda, Scholastique Mukasonga writes in The Barefoot Woman, portrayed the Tutsi as ‘inyenzi, cockroaches, insects it was only right to persecute and eventually exterminate’. Mukasonga’s...

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On Mary Ruefle

Emily Berry, 14 December 2023

American poets have never tired of the wonders of refrigeration. Ever since William Carlos Williams pilfered plums from the icebox there have been songs in praise of fridges and their contents – and...

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The structural jumps and awkward sutures of time in The Fraud are part of its argument. They give additional force to its wider project of showing how the novels of the period 1840-80 were structurally...

Read more about Crushing the Port Glasses: Zadie Smith gets the knives out