In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick


Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry


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. 7 No. 1 · 24 January 1985

Sponsored by the Arts Council

Karl Miller

The Arts Council is weeding its garden. It is taking steps, as many institutions have had to do over the last few years, to effect economies and redundancies. Operas, orchestras, spectacles for the wealthy, as they might sourly be described, are unlikely to be much affected. But there are small papers, including this one, for which the small steps in question will seem like giant steps, for which they may spell the end of the road. We have been very grateful for the Arts Council’s encouragement. Together with the tremendous support which we have received from publishers, it has enabled us to build up a satisfactory circulation in the course of our five years’ existence, and to look forward to a further two-year period by the end of which we hoped to be in profit. If this public funding is to stop, we shall have to see whether we must do the same. This money is not all there is to our existence even as a commercial concern, but it matters.

The Arts Council’s pensioners are given to feeling that the Government has laid on it, not just an injunction to save, but the principle that those cultural pursuits which do not bring immediate financial rewards should be deemed to have failed, and be denied support. But then it is clear that this principle has been honoured both in the observance and the breach. Opera, which is costly, does not appear to recover its costs: but it is pretty sure to be reprieved in any foreseeable economies. I don’t know whether the present Chairman of the Arts Council, William Rees-Mogg, believes that market principles should rule the Garden, in this sense. He is a former, and more than former, journalist: I notice that he is to serve as advisory editor of the new, the re-animated Time and Tide, staffed by refugees from the Spectator of recent years, ‘Young Fogeys’ and others, who used to produce a very sprightly paper. They could well find that even sprightly papers may need to be supported financially, as the Spectator has often had to be. But I don’t anticipate any application to the Arts Council from their advisory editor.

Part of the point of weeklies, fortnightlies and little magazines is that they may do the work of ‘discovering’ and encouraging new writers. It is the most enjoyable work they do, and it is work from which newspapers and television programmes regularly and ungratefully benefit. Part of our point is to look on, decades later, as the writers in question – long since written-out, as it may prove – are chased by producers and features editors. Small papers are prepared to publish and examine their writings long before any laureateship is conferred, long before any Booker Prize is won and wined and dined. It is work that would be missed if there were no one, and no place, to do it.

Little magazines helped Ted Hughes, who is now a welcome Poet Laureate. Poets Laureate pre-date the world of Public Lending Right; they are a survival from a remote past, where poetry was publicity in a sense which has largely disappeared; those were the days when poets hyped, and the City of London once employed one to compose annual panegyrics on the Lord Mayor. Ted Hughes will not be writing poems which will be easy to recognise as panegyrics or birthday presents. But there is an aptness about this choice which only a huge impatience with his fierce birds and beasts, his tribal England – predicted in an early poem about a pensioned-off predator, imperator colonel – could cause anyone to overlook. I remember what may have been the first poem he ever published: it was submitted to the Cambridge undergraduate magazine Granta under the pseudonym Daniel Hearing. Having published this, and then a number of other poems by him, I was taken to task by one of the best of the English dons and told with a smile that Ted was a delightful chap but that this stuff of his would never do. Well, I don’t doubt he will do fine as Poet Laureate. Tony Harrison would do fine, too, in this dodgy capacity, which need not, perhaps, be thought altogether obsolete, and comic. Both poets, in their own inward and intractable way, are patriots – and hardly less so than John Betjeman.

1984 was rightly reckoned, in its newspaper obituaries, to have lived up to its name. It was another bad year, in which the world went on under its current cloud or curse. It was the year in which the Belgrano was salvaged from the bottom of the South Atlantic and sunk all over again in the course of a prolonged argument as to whether or not the decision to attack it was justified, whether or not the decision was meant to terminate or to prevent negotiations for a settlement. 1984 was the year of the Dalyell – of the MP who, in the London Review among other places, instigated this argument. Now he is claiming that an old woman, a nuclear disarmer, may have been killed by Intelligence agents, British or American, perhaps on the hunt for material relating to the sinking. Whatever the outcome here, it seems obvious to me that he was right to ask his questions. But this will not seem obvious to those journalists who have been claiming that Dalyell is a busybody who should keep his questions to himself. There is something very nasty about copious opinion-formers who fill their columns with the suggestion that other people should be silent on matters of principle and honour.

1984 was a year in which such matters arose only to be ignored. It was a year in which a young British soldier, who had only lately arrived in Ulster, and who had been ordered by his corporal to ‘get’ someone seen escaping from a disturbance, was sent to prison for life for shooting the escaper dead. This is a sentence of which those responsible for what there is of government policy in Northern Ireland, and for the failure to challenge and improve it in the House of Commons, should be ashamed, and of which everyone should be ashamed. The state sends a man to keep the peace and jails him for life for making a mistake in the heat of the action. Our self-important and ineffectual MPs have let this matter lie. Apart from a case argued on BBC Television in favour of the creation of lesser penalties to meet such occasions, the only protest on the subject that I have heard has come from a spokesman in Ulster who is rocking with indignation that the soldier has been allowed to serve his life-sentence on English soil, from which, according to this spokesman, IRA prisoners should be repatriated to jails in Northern Ireland. I trust the spokesman does not think that justice requires that the IRA should have access to the soldier in those jails.

Put out on television in instalments over Christmas, Nicholas Nickleby – sponsored by the Arts Council, as it happens – and Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander must have made a deep impression. Each, at a dark time, may have exercised a special appeal. Each is dedicated to misfortune, and has the ring of an authorial self-pity. As such, each can be called conventional – items in the great tradition of the outcast’s ordeal. The Bergman I found beautiful and interesting to look at: but it has its doldrums; it is a study of theatricality which is itself theatrical – and Seventh Seal pretentious. It is not unworthy to be the last word of a master, but I didn’t feel that it really held a candle to the extraordinary Dickens show, where many a candle is held as the characters hurtle from disaster to disaster. As a collective display of acting talent, it shows that in the matter of theatricality the British have as much as ever to be patriotic about. Both films are texts for the time, or so I supposed, and Nicholas Nickleby – the adventures of ‘a well-behaved gentleman reduced to such necessities’, and of poor Smike and a cast of unfortunates – could at moments seem to have more than a resonance of the country we now inhabit, where youth is on the dole and dolefulness contrasts with a bliss secured for the wealthy few. Pauperism and a magic monetarism, brimstone and counting-house – all this had a smack of the Dotheboys Britain which quite a few, and not least that lad from Ulster, will experience in 1985.

Another Christmas benefit, for this diarist, was a reading of Milan Kundera’s novel, The Joke.* A human face from the ordeal of Central Europe, and a novel in which a recoil from the Communist system is imagined in generosity of heart. Ludvik is expelled from the Party and from the University, for a light iconoclastic joke, by a lecture hall crowded with people he knows. Raised hands, a democratic consensus, deliver their reproof to laughter. ‘Since then, whenever I make new acquaintances, men or women with the potential of becoming friends or lovers, I project them back into that time, that place, and ask myself whether they would have raised their hands; no one has ever passed the test: every one of them has raised his hand in the same way my friends and colleagues (willingly or not, out of conviction or fear) raised theirs. You must admit: it’s not easy to live with people willing to send you to exile or death, it’s not easy to become intimate with them, it’s not easy to love them.’ Later still, Ludvik suffers a didactic change of heart; he feels less vengeful. But it’s not easy to forget these reflections of his.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

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.