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. 26 No. 17 · 2 September 2004

Search by issue:

Where are Gracie and Rosie?

I was surprised by the tone of Stephen Mulhall’s letter in response to my essay on conjoined twins, and to be told that I had demonstrated ignorance of the philosophical debates on applied ethics, personal identity and the mind-body problem (Letters, 19 August). Fourteen lawyers were in court for the Gracie and Rosie Attard case in September 2000; all recognised they were engaged in a philosophical as well as a legal debate. Lord Justice Walker’s judgment included a list of academic authorities on the ethics of euthanasia. A section of Lord Justice Brooke’s judgment was headed ‘Necessity: modern academic writers’. But these authors were of limited help because the choice the court faced was different in character from the situations they had discussed. I gather, however, that the philosophical literature has moved on since 2000, particularly with the publication of Jeff McMahan’s The Ethics of Killing, reviewed by Mulhall in the LRB (LRB, 22 August 2002).

As for personal identity, there are plenty of philosophical discussions of ‘brain-division, brain transplantation, bodily fusion and so on’, but none, I think, of conjoined twins. Finally, I said nothing about the mind-body problem. I did say that the position of Gracie and Rosie was comparable to that of passengers in an overcrowded lifeboat, in that one could survive only at the expense of the other, yet both had a right to be in the boat. Arguments about this sort of situation go back to Cicero. Mulhall moves from my word ‘belongs’ to his word ‘possession’, and, via a pun, to ‘possessed or haunted’, conjuring up a Cartesian ‘ghost in this physiological machine’. So he convicts me of holding a sub-Cartesian position on the mind-body problem when I said nothing at all about the relationship between minds and bodies: what I discussed was the situation of two people who were completely dependent on a resource (oxygenated blood) of which the supply was insufficient, and what I argued was that the blood couldn’t properly be said to ‘belong’ to just one of them. Mulhall claims that my ignorance ‘nourishes fantasy’, but here at least he is arguing with a fantasy figure, not with me.

David Wootton
University of York

Crowds v. Experts

In his review of James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds (LRB, 5 August), David Runciman misses an important point about the use of experts. The obvious requirements for choice of sample, independence and so on are only necessary conditions, not sufficient ones. A properly random sample of people can be completely wrong about something if they are all working on the same incorrect assumption. Consider the jellybean example: if there is a large glass sphere hidden among the jellybeans, then you will get a normal distribution of guesses centred on the wrong mean. An expert – someone who knows about the glass sphere – will be able to make a much more accurate guess.

If you want to determine the relative usefulness of experts and crowds in a particular situation, you need to consider the relationship between them, and the ability of the crowd to make reasonable guesses. There are situations in which there are no real experts, such as an unfixed jellybean contest; situations in which everyone is an expert; and situations in which there are real experts. A good example of the second type of scenario is betting on horses. Ask a thousand random people to look at the form and then bet on a race and most professional gamblers will be happy to bet according to the crowd's decision.

A simple example of the third type of situation is the well-known doubling problem: ask a thousand randomly chosen people how much money you'll have in a month's time if someone gives you a penny today, two tomorrow and so on. The group mean will almost certainly be an answer that's much too low; but ask an expert (anyone who understands basic exponential functions) and you'll get the right answer. The run-up to the war in Iraq was probably one of these situations. The point as regards Iraq is not that the crowd somehow knew better than the experts, but that the experts lied.

Jeffrey McGowan
Glastonbury, Connecticut

It is a fundamental principle of experiment that, if there’s no bias, experimental error will be randomly distributed. That’s why an experimenter will repeat his experiment, and average the results. The average, with experimental error roughly cancelled out, will be more accurate than a single measurement. It should be no surprise that this applies to guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar. If, however, we asked people to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar labelled ‘1000 jellybeans’, the average guess would be in the neighbourhood of 1000. The label introduces a bias into the experiment.

Runciman proposes that matters of public policy be submitted to ‘a large group of people … to give it their best guess’. But while we can easily find unbiased jellybean counters, I would not know where to look for unbiased policy-makers. Had such a process been applied to the decision to invade Iraq last year, the American people would have approved it (Runciman is wrong to suggest the opposite). Public opinion last year was biased (in the experimental sense) by the overwhelmingly one-sided propaganda favouring invasion. We see through this now, but all the averaging in the world could not have saved us then.

Clifford Story
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

‘Taken individually,’ Rachmaninov once said, ‘the people in an audience may be poor critics of music, but as a complete body, the audience never errs.’

Michael Scott

Señor Welles

I was pleased to see that Campbell Lennie set the record straight about Orson Welles being buried in Ronda, rather than Seville (Letters, 8 July). Perhaps more than his affection for his friend Antonio Ordóñez the reason he asked to be interred there was his love of la fiesta brava – Ronda is generally acknowledged to be the cradle of the corrida.

In 1962 I had a marvellous mano a mano lunch with Orson at his Malaga villa; he wanted to talk about bulls (of which he knew a great deal) and I wanted to talk about his films. Later that day we went to the corrida with Kathleen and Ken Tynan. The third bull charged into the plaza and leapt over the barrera with its hooves virtually in Orson's lap. We pushed it back into the callejón, where it killed the carpenter of the ring. What a day!

Barnaby Conrad
Carpinteria, California


Frank Kermode says that ‘narratology’ isn’t in the OED (LRB, 5 August). it’s in the online version, with a first citation from Todorov, 1971.

James Grieve
Australian National University, Canberra

Ageing Leo

Andrew O'Hagan says that the role of Leo in The Go-Between was one of Michael Redgrave's great screen parts (LRB, 5 August), but Leo was played by Dominic Guard. Redgrave played the ageing Leo and was on screen for no more than four minutes. If we're talking about his great parts, Kipps, Fame Is the Spur or The Dam Busters would have been better examples.

John Williams

The Knife that Killed

The coroner’s report on Christopher Marlowe’s death is ‘at its most vivid’, Michael Dobson writes, ‘when it says that the wound was inflicted using a dagger “of the value of twelve pence"’ (LRB, 19 August). Until 1854 the value of the instrument of a man’s death had to be recorded in the coroner’s inquisition and, if the matter went to trial, in the murder indictment. The knife that killed Marlowe would have been seized as a deodand (‘that which should be given to God’), sold, and the proceeds used to support the dependants of the deceased.

A.R.W. Forrest
University of Sheffield

In his review of my book History Play: The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe, Michael Dobson, after quoting an extract from the blurb, writes of the cover image of the putative Corpus Christi portrait of Marlowe morphing into the Chandos portrait, supposedly of Shakespeare: ‘It is unfortunate for Bolt that the Corpus Christi portrait is very unlikely to be of Marlowe … and that the Chandos portrait is equally unlikely to be of Shakespeare.’ It is unfortunate for Dobson that he appears not to have penetrated History Play much further than the blurb and the cover. I make exactly that point about the Chandos portrait; and the exposure of the fragility of so many accepted ‘facts’ about Shakespeare is precisely the reason my book was written.

Rodney Bolt

Evolutionary psychology doesn’t have all the answers

J.P. Roos, a defender of ‘evolutionary psychology’ (Letters, 19 August), may have half a point against Mulhall and Nussbaum: disgust probably does have some biological basis. But he fails to support the other half of his conclusion: that shame does, too. it’s possible to see the evolutionary advantageousness of disgust reactions to excrement, for example, but what is the evolutionary story that will explain the sense of shame felt by concentration camp inmates, rape victims or, indeed, public farters?

Rupert Read
University of East Anglia

What about Gödel?

Most readers who enjoyed A.W. Moore's brisk demonstration that an arithmetisation of meta-mathematics produces provably unprovable propositions (LRB, 22 July) will have heard of Kurt Gödel, and some will recognise this as the work for which Gödel is famous. Without any mention of Gödel's theorem, however, Moore's article seems incomplete.

Paul Taylor
University College London

Kerry loops-the-loop

Andrew O’Hagan reports that John Kerry ‘taught himself to fly and had a go at looping-the-looop under the Golden Gate Bridge’ (LRB, 19 August). The roadway of the bridge is only 220 feet above water – lower than the Clifton Suspension Bridge. To attempt a loop in such a space would be suicidal. And how did Kerry teach himself to fly? Who leased (or loaned) an aeroplane to a man without a pilot’s certificate?

Derek Robinson

Locating Nivisons

The Whitney Museum of American Art did not, as Gail Levin has it in her piece on Edward Hopper, ‘discard whatever it thought was Nivison’s’ (LRB, 24 June). The museum owns more than two hundred pieces by Hopper’s wife, Josephine Nivison. It loaned or gave many of her oil paintings to hospitals in New York City to hang in offices and reception areas. Some were discarded. However, the watercolours and a few oils have been kept in storage at the museum alongside works from the permanent collection. Though none of Nivison’s work is on display at the museum, four of her Whitney paintings are being loaned for a group exhibition that will open at Brigham Young University in January.

Elizabeth Thompson Colleary
College of New Rochelle, New York

Stainless Stephen

Spender’s nickname, ‘Stainless Splendour’, took me back to the years before the Second World War. As a treat I was allowed to stay up late on Saturdays to listen to the evening music-hall programme on the BBC. A frequent performer was Stainless Stephen. He was Arthur Baynes (1892-1971), a teacher from Sheffield. On stage he would be dressed in evening wear, a bowler hat and a stainless steel waistcoat.

Ben Francis

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.