Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — 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.
Close

Letters

Vol. 3 No. 10 · 4 June 1981

Search by issue:

In theory

SIR: In a fine piece of cut-and-thrust polemic, Professor Ricks has deftly exposed some of the humbug and extravagance of certain recent literary theorising (LRB, 16 April). It is unfortunate, though, that in the process he is led to disparage all theory about literature, and philosophy to boot.

Of course ‘theory’ is a bogy word and an easy target, particularly when contrasted with ‘practice’; practice connotes the active and practical, while theory suggests something remote and impractical. But for all that, unreflective practice can look unserious, even philistine. It should not be forgotten that the foundations for the critical practice approved by Profesor Ricks are grounded in a long and distinguished tradition of theorising, not least at Professor Ricks’s own university, over the last sixty years. Professor Ricks prefers to see this tradition as concerned with principles rather than theory. Nothing wrong with that, if it’s meant just to sidestep unwanted connotations. But when he equates principles with proverbs and goes on to allow that ‘proverbs admit contradictions’ he is surely doing less than justice to a whole corpus of serious and reasoned theoretical work.

Poor theory should be met with good theory, not with no theory. There is no need for those who are sceptical of theorists like Hartman and Fish to retreat to proverbs. Nor, I think, should the term ‘literary theory’ be conceded to one particular school of theory.

Peter Lamarque
University of Stirling

Reviews of reviews of reviews

SIR: Hell is reviews of reviewers of Martin Amis’s novel, Other People. I began to feel as if I’d wandered through several of Alice’s looking-glasses when I read your last issue (LRB, 7 May) – ‘An Outline of Outlines’, ‘Reviewers reviewed’ – and no, it wasn’t the 1 April issue.

Claude Rawson reviewed ‘just under two dozen reviews and interviews of Other People’. Since Mr Rawson was inclined to think that the book had been given rather a lot of coverage anyway, why did he feel it was necessary to add his own, marathon review to cover it even more? So what are we to look forward to in your next issue? ‘A review of the review of the reviews of … ’? But even that has already been done in Mr Rawson’s review, which reviewed ‘two reviews of reviews by “Quentin Oates" ’. Perhaps we can expect ‘An outline of an outline of outlines of a review of a review of the reviews of …’ If this goes on, will anyone ever write a real novel again? Or will they all concentrate their facing mirrors on reflecting each other reflecting each other reflecting …

Well, the biter bit the biter bit the biter … I don’t think I’ll bother to read Other People now.

Diana Griffiths
Pangbourne

Sacred Cow

SIR: Why, I wonder, does Mr Sutherland not come out into the open and say what he thinks of Martin Amis’s novel, Other People, instead of hiding behind bushes of ‘ostranenie’, ‘virtuosic’ and guardedly non-committal remarks about ‘unexpected development’ and a ‘very mysterious’ mystery story (LRB, 19 March)? He has no qualms about evaluating the work of the other four authors he reviews. Indeed, he states quite categorically that he is about to evaluate Miss Smith’s particular achievement, after having prejudiced the reader against her by referring to a ‘back-coverful of pre-publication puff’. (No objection to the puff on the inside back flap of the Amis book or to the back-coverful of photograph of the author, so very carefully posed?)

Passages of Smith are referred to as ‘emetic’ and one such is quoted. Here is an Amis passage, of a kind of which there is a superfluity, though none is either referred to or quoted:

Oh, Mike, you fucking cocksucker. Well I got news for you, man, cos I’m fuckin out. Cos I don’t fuckin need it, man … You know what he makes me do? … Makes me go to fucking Sketchley’s to pick up his safari suits! The little scumbag’s safari suits! He treats me like shit

Not emetic, merely boring and rather passé.

Gerald Edwards’s work is evaluated as follows: ‘it is hard to see how this work could have merited print, had it not …’ Bernard Cornwell’s is, apparently, part of a ‘fictional sausage string’, which, we later hear, is ‘too solidly and obviously researched’, Of Mr Deighton the hope is expressed that the author’s ‘writing energy and creative disgruntlement’ will produce better things than the book reviewed, a ‘routine’, ‘nerveless’ ‘come-down’.

Here Mr Sutherland shows no shyness at all about expressing (damaging) value-judgments. Why, then, not one about Mr Amis’s novel? Surely this cannot be because Mr Amis’s face makes a front-coverful of post-publication puff on this issue of the LRB? Mr Amis is far too young, of the wrong sex – and couldn’t possibly wish – to be treated as a sacred cow.

James Brockway
The Hague

Malcolm and the Masses

SIR: May I be allowed a late reply to Clive James’s review of Ian Hunter’s life of Malcolm Muggeridge (LRB, 5 February)? After briefly skating through Malcolm Muggeridge’s early life, which James perhaps rightly sees as ordinary enough, and in which the themes of socialism and religion first make their appearance, he pauses to attack the biographer for daring to cast doubt on Keynesian economics – a dismissal which James affects to find a bit daunting. Well, it is certainly not more daunting than witnessing the supercilious nonsense talked by James and Gore Vidal in their television chat about the credit and debit side of Christian civilisation.

Whatever opinion, if any, James holds about Christianity, we learn here that he admires Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, and it soon becomes apparent that he is himself something of a social Darwinist. It is the impersonal forces of nature that have shaped our world. ‘We probably do best to follow Darwin’s example and look for harmony outside ourselves … but the universe cares little for us as a species and nothing for us as individuals. That much is entirely up to us. Some people will always find this an inspiring thought. Others it will reduce to despair. Muggeridge is plainly among the latter.’

The political legacy of this heroic individualism has been worked out in the 20th century. Characteristically, St Paul’s admonition that the flesh lusteth against the spirit means nothing to James: ‘There is no point in being shocked that God gave healthy male human beings ten times more lust than they can use. He did the same to healthy male fiddler crabs. He’s a deity, not a dietitian.’ A determinism which is, however, subject to swift modification when the subject of abortion arises: ‘Nor has he ever been able to grasp that the alternative to legal abortion is not Christian chastity or even the edifying responsibility of bringing up an illegitimate child. The alternative to legal abortion is illegal abortion.’ So James decisively concludes. Yet, with eminent medical men fully prepared to accept the blame for arranging the death of Mongol children, need he continue to feel qualms about a return to ‘back-street abortionists’?

An intellectual line of descent from this 19th-century social philosophy would most likely have placed James alongside the Webbs, Shaw and Wells had he lived in the decades before the Second World War. Unlike them, however, he finds the concept of the masses unacceptable and settles instead for ‘free institutions’. Consequently, if we wish to account for Hitler’s rise to power via the free institutions of Weimar, we need only have recourse to James’s equation ‘that some things go wrong of their own accord, and often as a direct consequence of other things going right.’ Elsewhere James’s comments on the political climate of the Thirties scarcely suggest that he has made a deeper study of these events than (as he alleges) Professor Hunter. His comment that ‘the Left intelligentsia was unable to take the centre with it’ appears at variance with the seemingly endless unmaskings of past and present members of the Establishment as Russian spies. Equally perplexing is the attempt to discredit Muggeridge’s insight in reporting the atrocities of the Soviet regime when James goes on to imply some sort of equivalence between the setting up of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the founding of the Welfare State. ‘But in the long run he undid his share of the good work by expanding his contempt for the Soviet Union into an indiscriminate attack on any form of social betterment whatever.’ The politics of Europe in the present century has been mass politics, the politics of the collective will. James becomes preoccupied with seeking to avoid the consequences of his own philosophy. ‘Stalin’s example was not enough to teach him [Muggeridge] that there is no such thing as the masses.’ Or, somewhat later on: ‘But there is no such thing as the herd. There are only people …’ Alas, repeated assertion does not make it so. I doubt if there are many Europeans who would derive much benefit from these platitudes. Probably most would think Lenin’s postulate ‘Who whom?’ a much more valid comment on their recent history.

A French strand is also apparent in James’s thought: he imagines like Voltaire that if the Deity didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent Him, which it seems Muggeridge did. James continues: ‘self-indulgence and severity towards others are the same vice. The epigram is La Bruyère’s. It could conceivably have been Kingsmill’s. It could never have been Muggeridge’s.’ But, then, The Thirties could never have been James’s – a book which he has clearly never read. Had he done so, he would never have fallen into the error of thinking that Muggeridge lacks an historical sense, as James so clearly does. Instead, he finds his explanations in the notion of progress – a lazy man’s substitute if ever there was one. The article on the monarchy, mentioned by James but probably not read by him, made its impact by a careful historical analysis of the British monarchy since the 18th century, underlining the erosion of its power-base, its raison d’être. In the event, this makes his talk of slit noses an irrelevance.

Probably the most extraordinary part of James’s review concerns his comparison of Mother Teresa and Jonas Salk: ‘Mother Teresa cares for those who suffer, which fits Muggeridge’s idea of God’s plan for the world. He would find it hard to express the same admiration for, say, Jonas Salk.’ It must be pretty obvious to James that a person’s moral and spiritual standing bears some relation to the actual physical circumstances of their daily life – when, for instance, one contrasts the squalor of Calcutta’s teeming slums with the remote calm of some Californian Institute of Virology.

Clive Towse
Swansea

SIR: According to Clive James, Malcolm Muggeridge has contemplated his navel endlessly without drawing much enlightenment from it. One day, in contemplating his own navel, Clive James may discover the real reason for his hostility towards Muggeridge, and the enlightenment he will acquire will at last set him free from the sophisticated secularism he clings to. And he will then understand that Muggeridge is infuriating simply because he is a master at penetrating the defences of that sophisticated secularism.

Nicholas Brown
London W1

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.