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. 15 No. 14 · 22 July 1993

Search by issue:

Nixon’s Greatest Moments

Michael Meadmore’s letter (Letters, 24 June) taxes R.W. Johnson with ‘failure to understand the Alger Hiss case’, but it is Meadmore himself who is wide of the mark. Hiss, a former US State Department officer, was convicted of perjury in 1950 for denying that he had given State Department documents to his accuser, Whittaker Chambers, in 1938. Chambers said the papers were destined for the Soviet Union. Congressman Nixon was Hiss’s principal harrier, and the case paved Nixon’s road to the White House.

At his sentencing to five years in prison, Hiss again denied the charges and expressed confidence that ‘how Whittaker Chambers was able to carry out forgery by typewriter’ would eventually be disclosed. Hiss meant that it would be revealed how Chambers had got access to Mrs Hiss’s typewriter, since Chambers had brought forth copies of State Department documents retyped in typescript closely matching that of personal letters typed at home by Mrs Hiss. Unknown to Hiss at the time of his trials, there was another way to forge typing, a technique that Meadmore mistakenly denies is possible: building a replicating typewriter. During World War Two – a decade before the Hiss trials – intelligence operatives using that technique ‘could produce faultlessly the imprint of any typewriter on earth’. One such operation, with the collaboration of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, called for rebuilding a typewriter ‘that precisely duplicated the machine in Rome [and produced] a letter so perfectly forged by matching the imperfections of typewriter keys … that it caused the removal of certain key pro-Nazis in South America’ (William Stevenson: A Man Called Intrepid). President Nixon reportedly told his aide Charles Colson that ‘the typewriters are always the key. We built one in the Hiss case’ (John Dean:Blind Ambition).

Even if the copies were typed on Mrs Hiss’s typewriter, that says nothing about who typed them or how they came into Chambers’s hands. There was no expert testimony on those questions: only Chambers’s word, against the word of both Mr and Mrs Hiss, that the typist was Mrs Hiss (Chambers had first said it was Mr or Mrs Hiss, but he changed that version when he learned that Mr Hiss could not type) and that Chambers himself had collected the copies at the Hisses’ house. Chambers had been a house guest of the Hisses briefly in the Thirties, and he also had sources in the State Department other than Hiss. In any case, the fact that the typescripts were closely matched suggests a frame-up; no rational intelligence agent would leave such a trail leading back to himself. The form of the papers also belies espionage: short excerpts, summaries and full copies appear at random, and telling parts of the original documents are omitted entirely or paraphrased while routine material is copied verbatim. (They are all publicly available in Volume VII of the printed court record.)

Chambers also produced four notes pencilled by Hiss, which Chambers said Hiss gave him to convey to the Soviets – again, a most unlikely spy story. The notes had been creased and crumpled; portions are unintelligible to anyone but Hiss; and they look just like what Hiss said they were: notes he made to himself for briefing his superior officer on incoming cables and then discarded.

Finally, Meadmore’s reliance on Allen Weinstein’s Perjury betrays his unawareness of the critical and investigatory discrediting of Weinstein’s book and putative change of mind; of his published apology and capitulation to a libel suit; and of his continuing refusal, in violation of the rules of the American Historical Association, to make his supposed source materials available for verification. Far more qualified than either Weinstein or Meadmore are General Dmitry Volkogonov, the overseer of the Soviet intelligence archives, and Yevgeny Primakov, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, who last year conducted an archival search at Hiss’s request. They reached the ‘firm conclusion’ that ‘Alger Hiss was never an agent of the intelligence services of the Soviet Union.’

John Lowenthal
New York

Reverting to flares

Like the medieval church it resembles, the new academicism offers no salvation outisde itself. Nearly thirty years ago I had a mild argument in print with Frank Kermode about the importance of things and bodies in books. Frank, who had just published The Sense of an Ending, was doubtful of their existence. Now Jonathan Sawday tells us that there is a ‘truly innovative theoretical move’ in the direction of a new ‘somatics’ (Letters, 8 July). Old-fashioned bodies are being taken over as the ‘theory of the month’: the new must always be new.

Literary theory would OK if, like dental mechanics, it stuck to its own ‘discipline’. But it wants to own and control the whole process, to create art by theorising about it. The body of Larkin’s awful pie becomes a construct for the new ‘somatics’? Even such an evidently reasonable academic as Tim Trengove-Jones (Letters, 8 July) abhors ‘minimising the role of institutions’ in moralising the poems actually written by non-institutional poets. And in the great malignity race between Larkin and Tom Paulin, Larkin surely wins hands down. His ‘calculated, concentrated malignity’ was at least his own. Paulin must have learnt his from academic theology, perhaps at the same seminar where he learnt to write poetry.

John Bayley

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett’s article on criminal justice was devastating, not least because it was so understated and dispassionate (LRB, 24 June). Surely the real flaw with English justice lies not with individual policemen, or with any individual for that matter (although whoever marked the bundle of documents in the Guildford Four case ‘not to be seen by the defence’ should have been in the dock), but with the system itself. The older I become, the more I am convinced that what the law, medicine, indeed all the professions need is far more women. In my experience, they are clearer-minded, brisker, and above all less interested in the cosy clubland and endless games-playing of their male colleagues, which sometimes seem more important than the end they are supposed to be pursuing.

Jeremy James
St Julien le Montagnier, France

I was particularly struck by the way Ronan Bennett used his personal experience to analyse and understand his subject. This contrasts with much modern extended reportage (originating, I guess, with John Reed) in which wars, revolutions and the suffering of other people appear as interesting backgrounds in the author’s quest to understand (or just enjoy) himself. Bennett’s refusal to allow his own experience to become his subject is rare and admirable.

Nicholas Young
Save the Children Fund,

An Avuncular Request

Re E. Winter’s nunclish poem and your letters column passim:
Rhyme’s dry couplings find G. Ewart even hard put to surpass him,
The solitary substitute for the copulative ‘deathly’
Being nothing but a wet weekend (and dirty) in Llanelli.
But surely it is time to cap, put an end to, this lubricity
And starve Ms F. Pitt-Kethley of the oxygen of pubicity?

This short epistle puzzled but ejaculated pithily
I sign paronomastically, sincerely, and Stan-Smithily.

Stan Smith
Dundee University


Use of first names, interestingly discussed by Miranda Seymour (Letters, 27 May) and Frank Kermode (Letters, 24 June), is not a problem restricted to biographers. Nurses, doctors, social workers and others in what are now called the caring professions face a similar predicament, often with even greater irritation, embarrassment or distress to those they serve. Some are trained dogmatically to believe that spontaneous use of the first name is an emblem of kindness and understanding. As a result, on a walk through our wards and consulting-rooms we may meet such absurdities as a man in his fifties just admitted to hospital suffering from the pain and anxiety of a heart attack being addressed as ‘Kenneth’ by a 20-year-old student nurse and others old enough to know better; and a young house physician shouting ‘Margaret’ at a deaf and dying lady who has never been known as anyone but ‘Meg’. Our colleagues who do this may never learn that routine use of first names with total strangers who have had the misfortune to become patients is as likely as not to be experienced as wretchedly patronising: a crude substitute for good manners and thoughtfulness.

Robert Cawley
London SW5


David Townsend (Letters, 10 June) may well be on firm ground when he challenges my suggestion that approved children’s fiction incites to violence. It could be that Stevenson, Richmal Crompton and Ransome were so successful as children’s writers because they saw very clearly that children had wicked propensities and addressed them on this basis, diverting them from real violence into morally tolerable fantasy. It is silly of Mr Townsend, however, to smear me with Gummerism for taking the notion of ‘original sin’ seriously. I am an atheist. Rousseauesque notions of ‘original virtue’ swiftly sent lots of people to the guillotine, which undermined the credibility of these notions more than somewhat. Though some Christians at every stage in history have been very stupid, hideously intolerant and/or extremely vicious, we should not, as historians of ideas and culture, dismiss the insights of their theologians out of hand. The onus of proof rests on those who dispute that children are naughty, amoral and often cruel.

As for the idea of improving them by compulsory education, it will hardly do to cite D.H. Lawrence against my contention that we should drop that. His account in The Rainbow of the foul working conditions for early state schoolteachers is outstanding in his generally mediocre prose oeuvre for a documentary power to rival Zola’s Germinal. It was not just because of faddism or snobbery that ‘progressives’ in his day who could afford it sent their children to the experimental schools founded by A.S. Neill and others.

Angus Calder
Open University, Edinburgh

Hue and Cry

In his/her response to my review of Habermas’s Faktizität und Geltung Pat Kane (Letters, 10 June) highlights the dangers of appeals to a substantive conception of human nature as a means of grounding a normative political theory. The dangers are far from illusory, but I would like to correct a misunderstanding in his/her letter, and also to suggest that the issue of substantive universals is inevitably raised by Habermas’s own position, however much he may try to defuse it.

First, I did not suggest that Habermas’s politics needed beefing up with a scientific theory of human nature. Rather, I spoke of the need for an exploration of ‘what is essential to the integrity of human life-forms in general’, so I had in mind configurations of social, cultural and interpersonal structures. Habermas’s own view is that the object-domains of specific sciences are only constituted by abstraction from the life-world which consists of these structures, in their lived, and constantly shifting, meaning. Accordingly the exploration of forms of life is a pre-scientific enterprise, whose approach would be phenomenological and hermeneutic, not objectifying.

Even once this is admitted, however, Kane raises two pertinent points. Do we have any reason to expect that there is anything common to all life-worlds? And how do we prevent a theory which claims to identify such universals from overriding the need for discussion? It is important to note that Habermas currently distinguishes between two basic functions of philosophy: one as a ‘stand-in’ or path-breaker for universalistic theories in the human sciences, the other as what he calls an ‘interpreter’, seeking to comprehend and integrate the various dimensions of a culture from within. This notion of ‘interpretation’ remains entirely undeveloped, however – the residue of Habermas’s formalism. One could ask why interpretation should be seen as a philosophical activity, unless it moves from culturally specific meanings to some general conception of their grounding. Philosophers are not just interested in what their own culture identifies as ‘nature’ or ‘art’ or ‘love’, vitally informative though this is, but rather in what these phenomena basically are. The constant return of philosophy to its own history suggests that such insights can be achieved, although they always remain open to new interpretations.

Furthermore, a philosopher may reach the conclusion that a society which systematically limits the opportunities for enjoyment of an unspoiled natural world, or for aesthetic experience, or for the development of loving relationships, is humanly deficient, however formally ‘just’ it may be. The fact that others may reach contrary conclusions does not automatically render this level of discourse invalid. Indeed, Habermas himself has recently admitted that such ‘ethical’ (i.e. qualitative) conceptions can be proposed, if universalised through the substantive notion of a ‘civilised world society’.

Such conceptions cannot be allowed to legitimate their own enforcement, however, and in this sense the primacy of ‘discourse ethics’ remains. But the need for a ‘fallibtlistic consciousness’, as Habermas calls it, can be stressed by undermining claims for a sure-fire philosophical method, without placing limitations on the content of philosophical reflection. To suggest that philosophers should avoid seeking to explore and depict the ingredients of emancipated or non-pathological forms of life (not ‘defining the “essential human forms of life" ’, as Pat Kane misquotes me) as a prophylactic against metaphysical delusions of grandeur seems to me to hinder excessively the relation between thought and social practice. It is precisely when a space is left open here by the imaginative failure of our most reflexive forms of thinking that a dangerous mishmash of science and ideology is likely to rush in to fill the gap.

Peter Dews
University of Essex


I thought I might add a postscript to my letter in your previous issue, explaining that my view of Botticelli’s Primavera is coloured by early experiences. The picture hung on the wall of our mathematics classroom, where a boy called Hoskins in the back row was attempting to take a surreptitious photograph of the mathematics master in one of his tantrums. He was discovered and hauled up to the front of the class, where he had to stand below the picture and put his head into a wastepaper basket (a large tea-chest of plywood), and in this position, with his bottom in the air and head in the chest, he was slowly and methodically kicked (tea-chest and all) out of the door of the classroom. I remember the rasping of the chest as it moved across the floor. All this took place under the picture of the Graces dancing their enigmatic dance under the enchanted trees. Since then for me, as I suppose for the rest of the class, sadomasochistic episodes have always acquired a Neoplatonic penumbra. By the same mechanism the decipherment of the picture was to be all the more emotionally charged. (Hoskins’s own opinion of the Primavera was neither asked nor given, though he retained his interest in photography, moving in later years from satirical subjects to landscape.)

Miles Burrows
Al Ain, Abu Dhabi

What on earth does she mean?

I enjoyed Jenny Diski’s review (LRB, 24 June), but what on earth does she mean by ‘Men have always thought they could beat death to death with an engorged penis’? I have passed the traditional span of man but it has never occurred to me that I might defeat or even delay the final curtain by getting a hard-on. In fact, I remember reading somewhere that experiments with Drosophila indicated that over-use of the penis invited early demise.

Kevin Laffan
Petworth, West Sussex

Benevolent Mr Philp

In his review of the Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin (LRB, 8 July), of which I was the General Editor, E.P. Thompson made a significant error of attribution which I would like to correct. The eight-volume Collected Novels and Memoirs of William Godwin was kindly but incorrectly attributed to myself ‘with the help of Marilyn Butler’. We did indeed co-author the General Introduction, and I acted as General Editor for the collection and as the editor of the volume of Godwin’s Memoirs. However, five of the volumes were edited by Dr Pamela Clemit, including the first edition of Caleb Williams with variants from the manuscript and the four other editions published in Godwin’s lifetime, and two were edited by Dr Maurice Hindle. Dr Clemil also edited Volume V, Educational Writings, in the Political and Philosophical Writings, and Dr Martin Fitzpatrick edited Volume I, which contains Godwin’s political writings prior to 1793. The impeccable standard of the scholarship of these volumes should be attributed to their editors.

Mark Philp
Oriel College, Oxford

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.