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. 18 No. 17 · 5 September 1996

Search by issue:

The Agathocles Story

Jeremy Waldron (LRB, 22 August) asks: ‘If Agathocles’ – in Machiavelli’s Prince – ‘is to be condemned as someone who has crossed the line into tyranny, how are we to distinguish him from other apparently unscrupulous princes, like Cesare Borgia, whom Machiavelli praises for their ruthlessness?’ The answer is simple, and evident from Machiavelli’s telling of the story: Agathocles had murdered his fellow citizens and destroyed the free constitution under which they lived. Borgia had not, but had brought order where there was only disorder. The reason this simple answer hasn’t been adopted is that scholars tend to assume that in The Prince Machiavelli is advising the Medici to destroy the surviving remnants of Florence’s shattered liberty. In 1967 C.H. Clough explained why this is a mistaken interpretation. Once one sees that Machiavelli believes in the use of wicked means to defend freedom, but not to destroy it, his repeated insistence that there are some things no one should be prepared to do becomes consistent and comprehensible. Waldron is right to think that Machiavelli does not regard the traditional distinction between tyranny and legitimate authority as meaningless – and that’s the point of the Agathocles story.

David Wootton
Brunel University, Twickenham

Raymond Williams

Of the three points raised by the publisher of Raymond Williams in her letter (Letters, 22 August), two are wrong and one is doubtful. 1. Raymond Williams’s official biographer? I have a letter from Fred Inglis, dated 18 October 1993, saying, inter alia, that he was now Raymond Williams’s official biographer, due to deliver his manuscript to Routledge by the end of 1994, and interested in talking to me. I understand that other people received a letter couched in similar terms. 2. John McIlroy. Inglis does indeed, in his prefatory acknowledgments, give fulsome thanks to Dr McIlroy for the loan of materials on Raymond Williams’s years in adult education, and salutes his ‘comradeship’. What he does not have the grace to acknowledge is that McIlroy has published a very substantial book on the subject – much more fully researched than Inglis’s treatment in two chapters. Elsewhere there are just three footnote references to McIlroy’s book: none of them expresses either appreciation or gratitude for a book which sets a new high standard of writing and research on adult education. 3. Oral History. To send interviewees transcripts of what they have said does not exhaust the writer’s responsibilities. Selective quotation can give a quite different twist to any extract. According to one who had to resort to it, there were two instances in which it was only the threat of legal action that persuaded Inglis to withdraw from the use he was making of the interview.

With regard to Nicolas Tredell’s letter in the same issue, I cannot see what is Brechtian about a biography which, so far from dispelling the illusion of immediacy, contrives to suggest that the author was an eye-witness to every incident, a participant-observer in every drama. The sexual politics of the book also seem to me murkier than Tredell suggests. I cannot see what is feminist about claiming – on the evidence of unknown women informants – that Williams had no ‘sexual presence’, or that a man who smoked a pipe was unimaginable as a lover. The belittling references to Raymond’s uxoriousness, and the sneering caption attached to the photograph of Raymond and Joy, suggest that Inglis, in common with many others on the left, finds the idea of a loving marriage difficult to contemplate. But whether he approves of its terms or not, he might have considered the possibility that this was one of the elements at stake in Raymond and Joy’s particularly close relationship. What struck me most in Inglis’s fumbling attempts to deal with the private man was that he could conceive of no independent being for Joy at all, and that far from emerging as the champion of feminist understandings of female subordination within the private sphere (which would require him, at the least, to have read the feminist work on Williams by Jardine and Swindells, Shiach, Kaplan et al, which he clearly hasn’t), he seems quite unconsciously compelled by his own masculine, even Oedipal relations to his appointed authority figures, not least Raymond Williams himself.

Among more thoughtful responses to my piece, Lawrence Goldman (Letters, 1 August) makes the very interesting suggestion that Culture and Society, so far from breaking new ground, actually presented the old adult education syllabus in new form, setting it out accessibly before a fresh audience in the expanding universities of the late Fifties and Sixties. This may be true, as Goldman suggests, of the pantheon of anti-industrial critics (Carlyle, Ruskin, Morris), but the centrality which Williams gives to Pugin’s Contrasts as a way of conceptualising the opposition between past and present in early 19th-century thought seems to come from somewhere else. More surprising is the fact that Williams chooses to start his narrative, and frame the problematic of his book, in terms taken from that age-old whipping boy of British radicalism, Edmund Burke. No less remarkable in a writer from the left is the absence of any reference to Burke’s great adversary, Tom Paine.

Raphael Samuel
London E1

Nicolas Tredell denounces Williams’s support for the Russian, Chinese and Cuban Revolutions, on the grounds that ‘violence against the state’ leads only to ‘death and suffering on a large scale’ – a point which, for some reason, became even more unarguable ‘after 1989’. This is a curious charge; I had thought that it was generally believed, and not only on the left, that revolutionary uprisings could be justified against some regimes, under some conditions. What those conditions might be, of course, is another question, and one to which my answer might well differ from Williams’s. Tredell’s criticism, however, could only have been preempted by Williams adopting either absolute pacifism or the defence of any and every status quo. In any case, Williams was far from being any sort of evangelist of revolution: keenly aware of the correlation between political liberation and immediate human suffering, in Modern Tragedy he went so far as to characterise revolution as tragedy. His judgment of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was complex and critical. But it wasn’t entirely negative – and that suffices for Inglis to render him a figure of fun, an armchair Maoist with no idea of the real implications of what he was saying (‘Rotovating a few beds of nettles … wasn’t what the Red Guards had in mind’). This shaft of derision – for Tredell a ‘vigorous and justified riposte’ – raises a few questions. Assume that Inglis had given Williams’s views on the Cultural Revolution the consideration they deserve and constructed a case against them. Could the line quoted above form part of such an argument? To ask the question is to answer it. Whatever arguments Inglis might be able to make – in his mind, perhaps – his method on paper is alien to debate: he proceeds by way of condescension, sneer and lampoon. (An approach which Tredell endorses, to judge from his own petulant swipe at Raphael Samuel.)

Phil Edwards


I admire Tom Paulin’s strong readings, and I admire his willingness to unsettle reputations. But he could be right about Eliot’s anti-semitism while still being wrong about Anthony Julius’s book (LRB, 9 May and Letters, 1 August. Though it may seem odd to the likes of R.H. Marshall (Letters, 1 August), who appear to spend their lives in a fug of conspiracy theory about the canon, it is possible to find Eliot anti-semitic (which he surely was) while also finding Julius’s claim that Eliot ‘trained himself to be an anti-semite’ hysterical. In this context, it is not ‘petulant’ to point out that Julius’s book is misleading and incoherent.

It is misleading to complain, as Julius does, that The Waste Land, which mentions Vienna only once, ‘silences Jewish Vienna’. It is misleading to charge, as Julius does, that Eliot’s comment on Isaac Rosenberg – ‘The poetry of Isaac Rosenberg … does not only owe its distinction to its being Hebraic: but because it is Hebraic it is a contribution to English literature. For a Jewish poet to be able to write like a Jew, in Western Europe and in a Western language, is almost a miracle’ – is akin to Richard Wagner’s view when he said that a German Jew could never compose German music, but would always compose Jewish music. Wagner’s taunt is that the Jew will try to speak as a native but cannot help speaking as a foreigner, and that because of this, he will never produce anything great. But Eliot, who thought Rosenberg the greatest of the First World War poets, praises him for exactly the opposite quality; he praises him for the miracle of his self-preservation. And it is misleading to allege that Eliot’s poem ‘A Song for Simeon’, which is a version of the Nunc Dimittis, is ‘another one of Eliot’s triumphs over Jews’.

I am surprised that Paulin is so easily persuaded that Julius admires Eliot’s work just because he places that admiration ‘on record’. His book attempts a sustained erosion of Eliot’s quality as a poet. To observe this is not to want ‘to cuddle up close’ to Eliot. It is important because it leads Julius into incoherence, and unravels his entire thesis. His book makes two claims: 1. That anti-semitism is at the centre of Eliot’s work. 2. That anti-semitism is at the centre of some of his greatest work. Neither seems true: Eliot would not be cherished or even remembered today if we knew him only as the author of ‘Sweeney’, ‘Gerontion’ and ‘Burbank’. Julius’s argument that the three anti-semitic poems are great and important is disingenuous. For this is a greatness that Julius, far from being able to display or argue, cannot apparently find in the rest of Eliot’s work. And Eliot’s criticism? ‘At its best, it enlarged a particular tradition.’

Now this is senseless: Julius denies greatness or centrality to all the work that is non-anti-semitic, denies greatness to the work that most of us love Eliot for, while awarding importance, skill and centrality to the anti-semitic work. But what kind of ‘greatness’ or ‘centrality’ is this? The most that Julius can say about the anti-semitic work, despite his attempts to claim its quality, is that it is ‘charged’, ‘economical’ and ‘virtuose’. (These three words are repeated again and again.) This is a greatness and centrality manufactured by Julius, who needs it for his thesis. The greater the poems in which Eliot’s anti-semitism appears, the greater the anti-semitism in Eliot’s work, and the better things are for Julius’s argument.

James Wood
Washington DC

The Pleasure Principle

I found Adam Phillips’s article (LRB, 20 June) the usual mixture of the baffling and the thought-provoking. The topic of sublimation, and of an ‘interest’ that is not simply prompted by an adult translation of childish sexual curiosity, is one that needs thinking about.

One of the problems with Freud’s concept of sublimation is that it seems to presuppose an original form of instinctual and unsophisticated psychic drive, whose main aim is physical (‘sexual’) gratification, which we learn, painfully, in the course of education and acculturation to redirect towards ‘higher’ and less immediate pursuits – intellectual, scientific or artistic work. At the same time, sublimation seems to entail some qualitative transformation of these original drives. In this way Freud’s concept comprehends the two aspects traditionally associated with sublimation (in alchemy, for example): an upward aspiration combined with the refinement of a base substance. ‘Interest’ could then be seen as a form of psychic investment that is no longer simply driven by instinctual need, and that has something optional about it (as the financial analogy implies).

However, this model of sublimation just doesn’t seem to match up with experience. As we grow up, or at least older, the nature of our appetites – even the ‘basic’ ones for food, shelter, company or sex – gradually becomes more and more sophisticated. In other words, they are increasingly complicated by a weaving together of our personal experience with cultural and social influences. This happens unevenly: some people’s sophistication in matters of food is greater than in matters of sex; in some cases it seems hardly to have happened at all; and in others it gets taken to the kind of extreme in which particularity and perversity of taste are almost indistinguishable. But at no point can we, as adults, draw a line on one side of which is ‘raw’ need and on the other a completely sublimated derivative of it.

With ‘Art’ the problem is that there is a more or less evident ‘jump’ between the kinds of investment we make in forms of conversation, conviviality and decoration, and the rather different ‘interest’ we derive from those forms of art (literature, music, painting) that are in some way set apart from the everyday textures of life. This jump seems to match Freud’s concept of sublimation, because it implies a special kind of transformation or ‘work’. Take Freud’s famous comment about a group of avant-garde artists: ‘Meaning is but little to these men; all they care for is line, shape, agreement of contours. They are given over to the Pleasure Principle.’ One way of making sense of this is to suppose some failure of sublimation because these artists had got stuck at a preliminary stage of narcissistic and hedonistic pleasure and had not done the transformative work necessary for a ‘proper’ work of art. Staying with this example, we can infer that for Freud successful sublimation was intimately connected with a process of conventional refinement. But when the gap between immediate pleasure-yield, lusty curiosity, transformation and interest begins to close, as it does in many forms of modern art, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out a conventional model for the sublimatory process: indeed it was one of the Surrealists’ tactics to aim at works of art that were anti-sublimatory in their effect.

David Maclagan
Centre for Psychotherapeutic Studies, Sheffield University

Night of the Living Dead

I was frustrated with the issue of LRB which carried reviews of recent books by Christopher Ricks (LRB, 1 August) and George Steiner (LRB, 1 August). Both Ricks and Steiner hold notoriously reactionary, anti-theoretical views. Why devote such attention to them? True, both Marilyn Butler and Andreas Huyssen expressed polite scepticism. But surely to dedicate such space to their work is a tacit endorsement of its spirit? Both men made important contributions to the field around thirty years ago, but are now markedly at odds with things. I would urge you to devote space to really important contributions of our decade, ones that are being talked about at the most interesting conferences in literary and cultural studies.

Ruth Parkin-Gounelas
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

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.