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. 17 No. 2 · 26 January 1995

Search by issue:


It is relatively easy to compile a compendium of South Africa’s ills, to give inflated attention to the more bizarre or sensational things that happen, and to make the simplistic judgment that this is a country going to the dogs. R.W. Johnson, for example, delivered himself of some pretty contestable comments (LRB, 20 October 1994). Considering that he must have written his piece, ‘Enrichissez-Vous!’, barely five months after the inauguration of President Mandela, he showed himself eager to rush to judgment. He patronisingly refers to the President as a ‘dear old man with a shining moral character’, and follows this with the remark that ‘there is, quite unmistakably, a lack of grip in the way the Government is being run.’ Those who know and work with President Mandela arrive at the opposite conclusion. He has moved naturally and rapidly to gain control of the administration of the country, and to give it moral content and direction.

Johnson persists in calling the Minister of Justice ‘Omar Dullah’, showing some lack of grip of his own. This apart, the reader is left with the impression that Mr Dullah Omar is trying to steamroller the Truth and Reconciliation Commission through Cabinet, with Deputy President F.W. de Klerk fighting it tooth and nail. This is hardly the case. Although there were reservations on the part of Deputy President de Klerk’s National Party and others, a basis for wide agreement has – since Johnson’s remarks – been achieved, and legislation is expected to go through Parliament in 1995 with maximum support. So much for the tooth and nail conflict.

Johnson says that the ‘Ministry of Administration’ (sic) ceded control of the country’s water resources to the provinces without consulting the Ministry of Water Affairs, ‘which then had to put up a furious fight to snatch back control’. The facts are that the interim Constitution categorically reserves water affairs as a national responsibility, i.e. under my department’s control. There never was any question of this responsibility being ‘ceded’ to anyone else by the Ministry for the Public Service and Administration. It was constitutionally impossible. Admittedly, it did take some time to convince all and sundry of the self-evident fact that water was a national responsibility (this was done by concentrating minds on the actual situation), and of the obvious truth that water is an indivisible national asset. A ‘furious fight’ was unnecessary.

Johnson mentions alleged Cabinet incapacity to reach tough decisions. We have a Government of National Unity, comprising the ANC, the NP and the Inkatha Freedom Party. It would be an immaculate coalition were there no differing viewpoints in the Cabinet. But on the really important questions, such as the integrity of the new South Africa and vigorous prosecution of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, there is unanimity among all players. Johnson describes the Government’s White Paper on the RDP as ‘wholly vacuous’. All one can do is to direct attention to the White Paper itself, and to favourable comments that have been made about it locally and abroad.

The impression given of indecision and drift is not fair and not factual. Yet it is cunningly woven into much that Johnson writes. We know him well. He is a craftsman of destructive criticism, and on occasion something of a prima donna in the process. The statement that ‘no one can say whether the question of where the country’s capital is to be has been resolved.’ suggests drift verging on incompetence, whereas the President himself and his office have made very clear statements on the state of this debate. What cannot be clear, until it is tested, is the wish of the people of South Africa and their representatives on this matter. To test opinion and not to pre-empt it is the democratic way. What is wrong with that?

Johnson’s reference to 12 figures in the Cabinets being Communists or ‘close to the SA Communist Party’ is gratuitous suspicion-mongering, reminiscent of the Cold War. It takes no account of the central fact that the new government is remarkably pragmatic and non-ideological in tackling the vast, practical challenges facing South Africa. The substantial privatisation programme is a case in point.

Johnson suggests that the 11,000 civil service vacancies which were advertised and drew 1.4 million applications were additional posts to find jobs for the ANC’s ‘clients’. They were routine civil service vacancies, and the Government rightly insisted that they should be advertised widely. The fact that the new government inherited a truly staggering unemployment rate had an understandable result: there were hosts of applications. Not ‘clients’, just people needing jobs.

To report that ministers ‘repeatedly make speeches saying how much they dislike having white civil servants’, and ‘in many cases have already suspended their top white civil servants … in order to give jobs to clients and cronies’ who are less able, is to suggest a concerted campaign waged against senior officialdom. There might well be reservations about some of the ‘old order’ civil servants, virtually guaranteed employment by the new Constitution. The reservations have limits, and there is great respect for the many competent and industrious white civil servants who are settling down to the new dispensation. All permanent heads of government departments were viewed as acting in that capacity while their posts were advertised. This was in accordance with the spirit of the new Constitution. It would be interesting to see Johnson’s list of the many ‘clients and cronies’ who have been placed in top civil service positions by the ANC. In fact, a good number of the ‘old’ civil servants have been reappointed.

One could go on testing the assertions offered as Revealed Truth in Johnson’s article. He speaks of strikes, blocking of motorways, rioting, marches, littering, hostage-taking and university crises. He speaks of a ‘mess’ in education; he questions whether the press will remain free (though free expression is specifically guaranteed in the Constitution, backed by the Constitutional Court). Of course, he cannot resist the ritual denunciation of Deputy Minister Winnie Mandela, and so on. From Johnson’s October 1994 view, one would have expected South Africa, emerging into 1995, to have been well on the boil once again, as in the days of apartheid repression. This has not happened. The politically-related violence level is well down, the economy is re-emergent, RDP projects are underway, the police are increasingly seen as protectors and not bullies, the people are happier (and far friendlier to one another), foreign tourism was up 14 per cent in the year Johnson entered his gloomy judgment – and, to cap it, in March 1995 the British Queen and her consort will pay their first royal visit to South Africa in nearly fifty years. Was it better in the old days?

Kader Asmal
Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry

Misplaced Grievances

I thought the basic criterion for printing letters in the LRB was some sort of style, wit or literary relevance. That from Lord Hanson’s Legal Director (Letters, 22 December 1994) had none of these; worse still, the silken politico-litigious menace within the phrase, ‘organisation funded through the public purse’, seemed to imply that taxpayers’ money should never be spent on any organisation which published matter critical of any powerful private interests and that, if it happened again, Hanson plc might one day use its undoubted influence with the current government to teach you a lesson. But then again, perhaps its publication was simply an intelligent way of reminding the Literature Panel of the Arts Council how much you deserve your modest grant. In any event Mr Dransfield doth protest much too much and wholly counterproductively.

Christopher Price
Settle, North Yorkshire

One only has to suffer the misfortune of viewing Hanson’s current self-congratulatory and imitative television advertisement (presumably allowable as a cost for tax purposes and thus, like your journal, supported partly out of the public purse) to appreciate the extent to which the company cares about its persona. Paul Foot’s review of Hanson: A Biography gave us the critic’s view, which is surely one of the objects of criticism. Graham Dransfield’s call for that view’s suppression gave us real insight into Hanson’s psyche. Mr Dransfield has very definitely and most helpfully put Hanson’s foot in it.

Anthony Bilmes

The British Library Will Survive

John Sutherland is quite right to point to the danger that access to the British Library will be restricted once the Euston Road building is eventually opened (Letters, 12 January). But it is not only at the British Library that accessibility – and therefore independent scholarship – is increasingly under threat. University libraries are more and more following policies that deprive those without some sort of sponsorship from pursuing research.

I had a research permit for about fifteen years to the British Library of Political and Economic Science, which was founded by Sidney Webb a century ago ‘as a great laboratory of social research’ and which is run by the LSE. The permit was issued under the then regulations of the Library that provided for free access to ‘bone fide researchers’ not working for ‘profit-making institutions’. This helped to provide me with material to produce several books and a large number of journal articles, so that some twenty-five of my works are to be found in the catalogue of the Library (two of them as ‘recommended texts’). Much of this material is not to be found at the British Library or any other in this country. Then last summer I received a letter from the Library telling me I could only use it in future on payment of £7.50 a day, £20 a week or £200 a year. A similar letter presumably went to many other permit-holders.

These sums may not seem large to the head of the LSE, John Ashworth, or to Lord Dainton, the chair of the Library Panel, but they are an awful lot for any researchers not working for an academic institution or in receipt of a substantial commission from a publisher. They effectively rule out access to the Library for anyone who chooses to keep themselves while writing books or articles by living on part-time work or enduring a spell on the dole: the £20 a week would eat up half someone’s dole money. The Library has, in fact, made a ruling that, had it been in effect earlier, would have prevented many of the books on its shelves ever being written.

When I made some of these points to the sub-librarian in charge of ‘management and external services’, the justification was twofold. First that ‘we are by no means the first university library to introduce charges.’ Second, that ‘today’s market economy is quite incompatible with your suggestion we should provide each of the authors of our material with free access to the wider collections.’

Chris Harman
London Nl

Kettle of Fish

William Scammell’s letter about metaphor and simile came to a somewhat sticky end (Letters, 22 December 1994). The metaphor ‘is not … a flying buttress but a … load-bearing wall’ makes little sense in light of the fact that flying buttresses are load-bearing walls.

Build a building without a trussed roof and the weight of the roof will tend to push the walls out. (Stand a book open like a roof on two others like walls.) Masonry, or to be precise mortar, is very weak in tension, it is imperative to keep it in compression. The quick way to do that, in this instance, is to thicken the walls. You can have somewhat thinner ones if you place heavy weights (say, statues, pinnacles or hunks of rock) along the top of the join between the roof and the walls. You can even scoop out part of the walls to allow big windows, provided you leave some wide bits to push in on the walls (solid buttresses to give them their proper name). However, solid buttresses don’t subtend as great a solid angle to the sky as simple windows. In order to extend the period in which light can enter the building, say, a cathedral, which you are constructing, you can cut out bits of the solid buttress, or build a simple pillar with a half arch on top to push in on the wall where the roof joins it. Unfortunately the half arch pushes the pillar out and over. Hmm, well then, add some weight where the half arch rests on the pillar (a statue? a pinnacle? a hunk of rock?) and/or give the flying buttress a flying buttress of its own, a little smaller, and a little shorter and so on.

Gothic architecture is not ‘gothic’ in any recognisable non-architectural sense of the word. It is not about fripperies, spookiness or decorative detail for the sake of it. It is ludicrously functional, medieval Pompidou Centre functional. You can dispense with these forms if you have roofing trusses (repeat the three-book experiment with a short piece of string pinned to the covers of roof book so that it can’t open) or other methods of keeping the walls in tension (pre-stressed concrete, for example). Whatever you do, you ought to be discouraged from removing the ‘prosthetic’, ‘unnatural’, ‘improper’ pinnacles, statues and flying buttresses from any Gothic buildings in your possession, unless demolition is your intent.

Gordon Guthrie

Great Copyright Disaster

John Sutherland’s erudite article (LRB, 12 January) contained a minor legal solecism. An author’s moral rights exist only for so long as the copyright in a particular work exists, and an author’s estate would not therefore be able to lodge complaints in perpetuity concerning the treatment of a work.

Anthony Mosawi
Brown Cooper Solicitors,


I was delighted to read John Bayley’s very positive review of Peter Taylor’s latest novel In the Tennessee Country (LRB, 12 January). The novel’s opening sentence, as quoted by Bayley, is: ‘In the Tennessee country of my forebears, it was not uncommon for a man of good character suddenly to disappear.’ This, to me, is a truly memorable sentence, so much so that it sent me hastily to my shelves to a treasured collection of Peter Taylor’s short stories entitled The Oracle at Stoneleigh Court where I found a well remembered story, ‘Cousin Aubrey’. This story begins: ‘In the Tennessee country of my forebears, it was not uncommon for a man of good character suddenly to disappear.’

Stanley Clingman
London N3

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.