Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.


Vol. 2 No. 4 · 6 March 1980

Search by issue:

Orwell depoliticised

SIR: Samuel Hynes’s review of Stansky and Abrahams’ Orwell: The Transformation (LRB, 24 January) was short on review and long on opinion. As a reader, I favour discursive reviewing, yet a writer who adopts this style has a duty to restrain his enthusiasm for his own political views and predilections. Hynes singularly fails to keep his under control. Admittedly, George Orwell – like most human beings – was a complex individual, difficult to categorise. Yet at least five assertions made by Hynes are bizarre enough to warrant comment. These are: Orwell was not a political thinker; had no philosophy of political action; was never able to relate himself comfortably to any political party; wrote nothing before 1936 that could be called political; his political idealism died in Barcelona in 1937.

Hynes turns Orwell into a minor literary figure of the Isaac Disraeli mould who flirted with politics. Orwell himself stated that he became a socialist in 1930, and the Adelphi, for which he wrote in the years following, was recognised as the vehicle of the intellectual Left within the Independent Labour Party. Similarly, if his idealistic socialism died in 1937, how come he joined the ILP in 1938 and later wrote so consistently for Tribune? As for Orwell’s tendencies towards nationalism, Luddism and anti-intellectualism, and his limited philosophy of political action, he shared those with the British Left. They remain today – much to the disgust of the programmed Left – as part of that set of ideas held within, for example, the Labour Party. Finally, Orwell’s political thinking in Animal Farm and 1984 has outlived the pronouncements of many of the political theorists of the succeeding decades. Ideology has yet to end, and as the US completes its switch in allies from Russia to China, 1984 keeps its point.

Glyn Ford

‘The Climate of Treason’

SIR: Further to Neal Ascherson’s review of Andrew Boyle’s book (LRB, 7 February), I should like to make the following observations. It has long been known that a number of British literary intellectuals acted on behalf of Russia before the war, though we are only now discovering how many. Some have even avowed it. Stephen Spender, in his 1951 autobiography World within World, describes how he joined the British Communist Party during the Spanish Civil War and went to Spain, at the invitation of the Daily Worker, to ascertain for the Soviet Government what had happened to the crew of a Russian ship sunk by the Italians. ‘It raised the question whether to supply such information would be spying,’ he remarks coolly, years after he had left Communism. ‘However, it certainly did not involve betraying my country, nor obtaining military secrets … All the same I had a scruple about being paid.’

A more curious incident involves the late Goronwy Rees. In December 1973 I published an article on the Thirties in Encounter, which I later reprinted in Politics and Literature in Modern Britain (Macmillan, 1977) as ‘Did Stalin dupe the intellectuals?’ My answer to that question was no, and the article was greeted with a fair bit of fury, because it documented a view I had long held: that Auden and Co were more deeply involved in the Communist Party than it was by then fashionable to admit, and no mere fellow-travellers or utopian idealists; that they were attracted to Stalin precisely because he was an exterminator; that they knew of the Soviet death-camps, and wanted something of the same thing here – the destruction of the bourgeoisie being no idle metaphor in their mouths. Like Hitler, if less effectively, they purposed the death of millions. The annoyance this article aroused was not confined to that last sad remnant of intellectual Marxism known in those days as the New Left. It surprisingly included Rees. In the following issue of Encounter, he praised me for documenting a case but chided me for getting the whole tone of the Thirties wrong: ‘To anyone who in the 1930s knew the writers from whom Mr Watson quotes so liberally – Auden, Spender, MacNeice, Day Lewis et al. – there is something so inherently improbable about Mr Watson’s picture of them that at first one is tempted to laugh. The idea of Stephen Spender as an icy doctrinaire, a kind of literary St Just, of Louis MacNeice as an avenging angel of Communism, has all the elements of farce in it. In the role of executioner, actual or potential, they would have carried about as much conviction as Morecambe and Wise, and I hasten to add that I say this out of old affection and not as a reproach … ’ He accused me of having read too much poetry for my own good, and of failing to notice that poets often use ideas as raw materials without believing in them. What is more, he went on, these men of letters were Englishmen and had been to good schools and ancient universities, and the English ‘do not take easily to those large, universal, metaphysical and philosophical systems of which the Continent is so productive and of which Marxism is perhaps the last heir’; and they can have known nothing of Soviet atrocities, since to them Russia was ‘a blank space on the map which they could fill according to their fancy’. So they were neither seriously pro-Soviet nor even seriously Marxist.

A hard try at a whitewash, in fact – or, as Americans say, a snow-job. But it is now plainer than ever that Rees always knew that some of these well-born young men just down from ancient universities were Comintern agents. He had lived with one of them, Guy Burgess, who had tried to recruit him as an agent. He must have known that some of them had visited the Soviet Union – no unusual journey for a Thirties intellectual. He certainly knew they were working with other Soviet agents in the West. And none of this depends on Rees’s dying testimony alone. A few years before his death in 1973, W.H. Auden wrote to me in terms that made it plain that he could not deny to himself or others that as a Communist he had known a good deal about Soviet brutality. In a letter of January 1971, Auden wrote:

During the Thirties I and, I think, most of my friends, though we did not know the whole awful truth, were well aware that very unpleasant things were happening in Russia. For this reason I never joined the Party, because I was afraid I might have to defend the Soviet Union. The mistake we made was to think: ‘What can one expect of the Russians? They are barbarians who have never had a Renaissance or a Reformation and have always lived under a dictatorship … ’

Just how much of this is an accurate reflection of Auden’s views in the Thirties is a matter for investigation, and I wish someone who knew him then could come forward with a letter or a recollection that could prove decisive. Early in 1939, in I Believe, Auden was writing about the need ‘to defend what we believe to be right, perhaps even at the cost of our lives and those of others,’ and the context does not suggest he is talking about wars between nations. ‘We are seeing the end of Liberal Democracy,’ he wrote in a journal in December 1939, to be replaced by either socialism or fascism, and this is ‘a good thing’. Hardly the language of the uncommitted, or even of the milder sort of fellow-traveller.

My conclusion in Politics and Literature was that Stalin did not dupe the intellectuals, and I now wonder why Goronwy Rees rejected it so publicly and so vehemently. He must have known it was true, and known it before I did. The revelations of the Blunt affair have sharpened and deepened that conclusion, abruptly and even tragically. My acquaintance with these men was so late in their highly changeable lives that I am forced into an almost total dependence on the documents. That is why I wrote: to present the documents of the Thirties as a counter to the self-excusings of the Sixties and Seventies. I am not sorry to have done so, though the act itself is not universally thought to have done me much credit as a literary historian. But I had not supposed that self-excusing could have gone so far as to infect the fervent journalism and even the last confessions of a man as amiable as Goronwy Rees.

George Watson
St John’s College, Cambridge

Literary Criticism we could do without

SIR: As the perpetrator of one of the ‘unpublished theses’ (actually, a brief essay) cited in Colin MacCabe’s James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word, may I say how delighted I am that Miss Brophy, author of Fifty Works of English Literature We Could Do Without, is bringing her sledge-hammer to bear on works of literary criticism (LRB, 21 February)? How soon may we expect to know the names of the other 49? Keep at ’em, Miss Brophy!

Patrick Parrinder
University of Reading


SIR: John Sutherland (Letters, 20 December 1979) is wrong about Dickens’s writing habits, and since Mr Sutherland goes as far as to call me ignorant, perhaps you will allow me to reply. It is misleading to say that Dickens took more than a year to write Bleak House, for he was at the same time writing A Child’s History of England and ‘To be Read at Dusk’; he was full-time editor of Household Words; he took his theatrical company on provincial tours; he was involved in slum-clearance schemes in East London; he travelled abroad and he led a hectic social and public life. Sometimes he wrote only in the mornings; sometimes for only a fortnight in each month; often not at all. If it took him more than a year to finish a book, that was because he was not working full-time on the book; when he was writing, he wrote fast. ‘Mr Dickens writes too often and too fast,’ said a contemporary critic, making the same mistake as Mr Sutherland by confusing speed with haste. Now as then, quality is not necessarily related to pace of work; nor to life-style, publishers’ publicity, or any other of the red herrings in Mr Sutherland’s article. He says he is in favour of more thoughtful commentary on contemporary thrillers, yet when I complain that he writes about an author’s jewellery instead of the book, he finds space in his reply for a gibe about my house in the South of France. I think he’s insincere.

Ken Follett
Grasse, France

Leavis and Marxism

SIR: Kevin Keys’s attempt (Letters, 7 February) to outline a ‘non-vulgar Marxism’, for the sake of his argument that Leavis was once nearer to Marx than he knew, involves him in a serious misunderstanding. He quotes Engels’s in recent years much-discussed letter in which he says that ‘it is not the case that the economic situation is the sole active cause and everything else is passive effect. But there is a reciprocal interaction within a fundamental economic necessity, which in the last instance always asserts itself.’ He then proceeds completely to misinterpret it. Despite the fact that the syntax of this rather free English translation of the quite unambiguous German makes it clear enough that Engels meant that it was the ‘economic necessity’ that ‘always asserts itself’, Mr Keys asserts that ‘it is essential to realise that it is the “reciprocal interaction" that finally asserts itself’ – whatever that might mean – and makes matters worse by informing us that ‘this kind of insight into the issue derives from the proper understanding of the dialectical method, which was not widely possessed by the early Marxist writers in England’!

If this is the basis of what Kevin Keys calls ‘the methodology of dialectical materialism’, as opposed to what he refers to as the ‘dogma of the priority of the economic conditions’, then Marx was certainly a ‘vulgar Marxist’, though this did not mean that he was narrow or prescriptive in his literary tastes or judgments, or indeed that his judgments were any less ‘subjective, a matter of individual preference’, than Leavis’s.

Nicholas Jacobs
London NW5


SIR: Oi veh, what a schlimazel! To accuse Joan Didion of a ‘schlepping style’ for saying that in her shopping-centre she ‘would have monkeys, and Chinese restaurants, and Mylar kites and bands of small girls playing tambourine,’ as Martin Amis does (LRB, 7 February), is the mark of a goyisher kop. When a yente like Didion offers her reader such rare freylakhs, it is a mitzvah; she should be encouraged, not mislabeled.

Matthew Hoffman
London NW1

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.