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. 12 No. 3 · 8 February 1990

Search by issue:


As a San Francisco resident who survived the earthquake, I offer my observations as a corrective to some of Alexander Cockburn’s skewed account in your issue of 21 December 1989. Watsonville was far from ignored in the press and television coverage. Although Cockburn calls it a ‘Third World town’, implying that the deprived residents dwell in hovels, the damaged houses appeared on television to be spacious, well-maintained, middle-class dwellings with verandahs, set in large yards. The wide-eaved buildings, dating from the first quarter of the century, would be called bungalows. The force of the quake would have required more than ‘a handful of nails’ to prevent slippage and broken chimneys.

Dragging in politics, as a revolutionary must, Cockburn neglects to mention that Watsonville’s election under the ‘new forms of representation’ still resulted in the election of only one Chicano to the city council. The ‘First World’ destruction in San Francisco’s Marina district received more attention than the Watsonville and Santa Cruz damage simply because it was far more concentrated and spectacular. A big part of a city block burned, with smoke visible for miles. Rows of apartment buildings tilted crazily or collapsed, signifying greater and costlier destruction than happened to scattered buildings in small towns. Yet the damage there was thoroughly displayed. Cockburn neglects to mention the heavy damage in Los Gatos, perhaps because the area is more affluent, thus able to buy all the nails it wants. In West Oakland, the collapse of the double-deck freeway, killing 41 persons inside their cars, was ghastlier than other damage. Press and television, however, gave exhaustive coverage to the misery of poor persons driven from homes and apartments. Cockburn is dead wrong when he blames a supposed shortage of utility workers in the Marina fire on a cut in property taxes. The provider of gas and electricity is the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a private utility. It is not an agency of government and not supported by taxes. ‘Here at least the rich were finally consumed in the fires of their own civic indifference,’ Cockburn gleefully proclaims in a fuzzy, fervid and hardly charitable rhetoric. (Among the three capitalist victims was a twenty-month-old boy.) But a majority of Californians, hardly indifferent to constant tax increases and widespread waste of the money, voted for the tax-cutting measure: hence, Cockburn might infer, the majority of Californians are rich. That would speak well for the system he is trying to tear down. Cockburn waves his red wand in suggesting that property privately owned along the coast be seized and filled with farmworkers. He ignores the questions of where the money will come from to pay for the expropriation or to replace the lost tax base. Perhaps he would simply print more roubles.

Thomas Scott
San Francisco

Boswell’s Last Journal

In writing about Boswell’s last journal, Karl Miller (LRB, 25 January) points out that he saw himself, in a period manner, as ‘inconsistent’, and proceeds to discuss Boswell’s colourful behaviour in those terms. But then everyone is inconsistent, aren’t they, and the world proposes inconsistent goals and gratifications? So what makes Boswell so special – in his own word, ‘diseased’? Miller doesn’t say enough about that. One part of Boswell’s behaviour can appear to invalidate, or to afflict, another part; a ‘virtuous mind’ kept succumbing to the venereal. But there’s always been a lot of that about. If Boswell’s ghost could bring itself to return to Edinburgh, and take a look at Scotland’s colourful legal profession, he might, according to report, discover, on the bench which he longed to join, one or two fellow spirits: not so secret sharers in Boswellian inconsistency.

Karl Miller doesn’t acknowledge how much the Life of Johnson changes for the better when Boswell comes to know his subject personally, and on this very matter of inconsistency it is wonderfully rewarding. ‘Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on its hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all’: Boswell manages to subvert Johnson’s well-known words. They are preceded by a tale of Goldsmith’s attending a performance where a puppet tossed a pike, and foolishly exclaiming: ‘Pshaw! I can do it better myself.’ This has its bearing on the remark about the woman preacher – which is immediately followed, moreover, by Boswell’s observation that ‘it was strange to think that the most indolent man in Britain had written the most laborious work, The English Dictionary.’ And he might have added that it was strange, too, that another of the most indolent men in Britain was hard at work on the Life of Johnson. What Boswell does here (I think) is to throw light on what we expect of authors, and preachers. It is made to seem that human life is inconsistent enough to keep disappointing our expectations – that in this respect it’s at least as strange as fiction.

James Smithson
London SW4

Unwritten Novels

Doris Lessing wonders why World War Two produced so few novels, such a sparse literature, as she sees it (LRB, 11 January). Where, she asks hypothetically, is the novel about the battle of the Atlantic by ‘the sensitive young officer … sunk in the Repulse in the Pacific, and picked out of the water to fight again in the Med? Where the novel, rather than the memoirs, of the POW camps in Germany?’ A crowd is not company and its sequel, The Impossible Shore, by Robert Kee, are about a bomber pilot shot down and imprisoned for the duration. No ‘memoirs’ these, but, taken together, a small masterpiece written with a novelist’s shaping spirit. And there are a number of novels written during or just after the war by novelists like Colin MacInnes (To the victors the spoils), Geoffrey Cotterell, R.C. Hutchinson, to name a few that come to mind. Women novelists too; Virago recently republished three. And Life in Our Hands, by Pamela Bright, a novel about nursing on the Western Front, graphic, tender-hearted and horrifyingly authentic, deserves republication. Add to this Inez Holden’s Night Shift about the Blitz.

Miss Lessing’s own reading is sporadic. ‘Let’s look at what we have’: she cites Evelyn Waugh’s and Olivia Manning’s trilogies, Alexander Baron’s From the City, from the Plough, The Cruel Sea. No word of Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day, or of Henry Green’s Caught and Back. Of New Writing she is dismissive: ‘Sharp, sardonic sketches, Shaving through the Blitz, by one Fanfarlo’. But almost every contemporary writer, known and unknown, appeared in New Writing. They mostly wrote, as might her prototype young sailor, in short bursts, in the little time left to them – for none of us, as Henry Green observed, whether soldier or civilian, expected to survive. As to poetry, she believes that ‘fragments of verse survive.’ But the war was a stimulating time for poetry. Alun Lewis and his fellow combatant poets left more than ‘fragments’. Roy Fuller, still with us, incorporated his years on active service in a verse sequence, part of a continuous work extended throughout his life (New and Collected Poems 1934-1984).

Jean MacGibbon
Manningtree, Essex

There are two obvious answers to the question asked by Doris Lessing. One is that the sort of people who write novels tend not to know much about the sort of subjects she mentions (radical politics, poverty, war, industry and trade), so that they tend not to write about them – and when they do they tend to write badly. The other is that, if one looks carefully enough, many if not most of the ‘unwritten’ novels she mentions have in fact been written – on the Chartists, the Marxes, the early Marxists, people at war and, above all, business (even in Britain). Anyway, an obvious reply to her assertion ‘that it is literature, not history, which has created a map of this or that society,’ is that it isn’t – or that if it is, the map in question tends to be very inaccurate.

An easy test is to look at literature about subjects one knows: almost all the many plays and novels I know about the extreme Left or the free-thought movement give ludicrous versions of these things.

Nicolas Walter
London Nl

The striking thing about Doris Lessing’s article on ‘Unwritten Novels’ was that she is, broadly speaking, correct – it’s difficult to deny that large areas of experience are being left unaddressed by contemporary fiction. It often seems that the only novels which actually have a subject – the only novels which have any informational content, which take the reader to a place he or she hadn’t been before – are what Lessing calls ‘bad literature, comics, airport literature’. Take airports themselves. Why hasn’t anyone other than Arthur Hailey ever written about them? All that fear, all that variety, all that material. Or consider Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, an enormously entertaining read and a novel that deserved its popular success, if only because Wolfe bothered to go out and do some research – why hadn’t anyone else ever written about the justice system in New York, for instance? In fact, Wolfe has recently, in an article called ‘Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast’, been proselytising to just this effect, arguing for the obligation of the writer to go out and report. He also makes the claim that ‘every writer over the age of forty’ knows that ‘90 per cent’ of a book’s interest comes from its material: only 10 per cent of a book’s claim on our attention has to do with its author’s talent. There can’t be all that many subjects on which Wolfe and Lessing agree, so perhaps the similarity of their views on this means that we are about to witness a change in the fiction-writing Zeitgeist.

Henry Stoll

I expect that Doris Lessing will find herself being offered a fairly heavy reading list. Perhaps to provoke this was part of her intention. If so, she will be pleased to know that she can find in The Daughter (Harper and Row, 1979) a touching study of Eleanor Marx and her awful marriage by one of the most amusing and thoughtful of contemporary novelists, Judith Chernaik.

Roger Gard
London SW1

Life of Brian

Kevin Barry’s article on Flann O’Brien/Brian Nolan/Myles na gCopaleen (LRB, 25 January) was interesting, but I felt that it left out of consideration some important aspects of its subject’s work. There should have been more discussion of Nolan’s Irishness – specifically, his attitude towards what he saw as the cod Irishness of writers like Synge, celebrating the idealised identity of an idealised peasantry who live in an idealised poverty. Nolan satirised all this, but he also partook of it: he disliked ‘Irishness’ – consider the dread character in his Irish Times column, for ever celebrating utterly mundane occurrences by intoning ‘only in Ireland!’ – but it was at the same time the basis of his humour. In the early writing, this tension is in control: witness the characters in An Beal Bocht whose journey to school involves having to swim in from Aran, or the parody of Irish poetry in At Swim Two Birds (where Finn’s backside is broad enough to block a mountain pass). Later, Nolan lost control of this delightful equilibrium between celebration and parody; and dislike of Irishness – especially the Irishness he felt within himself, which had gradually become his stock-in-trade as a humourist – was central to the unsustainability of his later life.

Tom Parker
London N16

His Wife

I was surprised to read in Jonathan Coe’s review of Soho Square II (LRB, 21 December 1989) that the failure of my husband (Stephen Amidon) to give my name in the Contributors’ Notes was ‘shot through with some very traditional assumptions’. I take this to mean sexist and would like to say that my name doesn’t appear in the notes because I didn’t want it to. Our 14-month-old daughter Clementine did not express similar objections, so her name was put in. I had thought that by omitting my name from my husband’s work I would be able to avoid the attention of condescending males who feel that my worth is derived from his achievement or behaviour. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case.

Caryl Casson
Richmond, Surrey

An omission

The last issue had a picture of a Romanian soldier on the cover, taken by Paul Lowe of Network: an exhibition of work by Network photographers can be seen until 16 February at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery in London.

Editors, ‘London Review’

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.