In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

‘Trick Mirror’

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

At Tate BritainPeter Campbell
Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — 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.
Close

Peter Doig painted Echo Lake in 1998. A man stands on the far side of a stretch of dark water. He is quite a way off, but you can see that he wears a white shirt and a dark tie. His hands are raised to his face. Is it to keep the light out of his eyes as he looks at you? Or is it to project his voice as he shouts? A police car, lights on, is parked behind him. Beyond the car the black-green of a band of trees is broken by a few bright spots; they could be streetlights or house lights half-obscured by foliage. It must be night time. Are they crime-scene floodlights that shine across the lake, on the man, grass, rocks and car?

Although the scenes shown in this painting and others by Peter Doig (the retrospective of his work runs until 27 April) seem to imply that curious things have gone before, and that others will follow, there is no reason to think you will ever know what the pictures signify. Like ghost stories, they draw on the potency of matters unresolved; it hangs about them like an unearthed static charge.

Doig has sometimes used a scene from a movie as a starting point, and many of his paintings stay in your mind the way scenes in films do: locations chosen for bleak episodes of distant violence (the execution on the lake in Godfather II); places where there is no possibility of communication (Antonioni, frequently); others where what is special is an eerie suburban ordinariness (David Lynch’s small-town America). Doig’s landscapes, to a greater degree than most you might include in an anthology of painted and filmed scenery, suggest a surprising discovery about to be made, rather than something that’s been imposed on an amenable view.

Although Doig was born in Edinburgh and has spent much time in England, he grew up in Canada and now lives in Trinidad. There are pictures here that echo other images that fill my narrow view of those last two places. Both his lake-and-canoe pictures like Swamped (1990, below) and tropical pictures like Grand Rivière (2001-2) share motifs with the watercolours Winslow Homer painted in the late 1800s and early 1900s while on Canadian fishing trips and on holiday in the Bahamas. In both Homer’s and Doig’s pictures, a feeling for place arises from the look of distant figures in a landscape, canoes on dark water, the ragged outlines of palm leaves and Prussian blue seas. The similarity brings no suggestion of influence; the impression is rather of tales from travellers who, unknown to each other, visited the same country.

Peter Doig, ‘Swamped’ (1990)

There is comfort in proof that this sort of resonance between traditions is still possible. It must arise from a particular apprehension of place. There is little or nothing in the means used – the controlled yet free, fluid strokes in Homer’s watercolours and Doig’s sometimes runny, sometimes dabbed and scrabbled oil paint – that brings them together. ‘I didn’t want the surfaces to be beautiful, but slightly repellent on close inspection,’ Doig once said, and his paintings of the 1990s are just that. In pictures of winter weather from the 1990s blobs of snow may spatter the air, obscuring a scene. Reflections on ice and the bare branches of trees create patterns that slow your reading. On some, seen close to, you find a sparse scattering of little blobs of bright colour like bits of chopped up cherry in a cake mix (in reproduction their force is lost). While spangly effects recur – stars in the night sky in Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre and Girl in White with Trees, for example – the desire to repel fades over time.

Recent pictures are suave. Some are very pretty indeed. Untitled (2006) is in oil and pastel on linen – imagine a Chinese ink drawing on silk much enlarged. It shows a boy climbing a palm tree. His tree bleeds out of the picture on the left, a fringe of leaves from other palms invades on the right. High above a bird flies across the expanse of slightly stained creamy fabric that separates them. It looks as though it was all drawn in pink first, then gone over in lines of blue-grey that are firmer, but still faint, as though seen through fog. Paint which stains and soaks into linen, here and elsewhere, gives a Whistlerish vagueness to things.

The Concrete Cabin series painted in the mid to late 1990s arose from Doig’s connection with a late version of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Briey. The building was derelict: it had been abandoned twenty years earlier. Doig was one of a group of artists and architects who took over a floor and worked on its reclamation. In the Briey paintings a tendency to show things masked or obscured – it is seen elsewhere in smudged faces and snow-veiled houses – is at its most straightforward. The white wall of the Unité is glimpsed through gaps in a screen of pine trunks; fissured brown bark in front, white geometry beyond (the original bare concrete of the building had been painted). A building approached through trees is a storyteller’s device. You, the spectator, take the place of a camera or a narrator. You are in the shade and cannot be seen. Depending on the story the building beyond could be a haven, an adventure or a threat. That Doig made a video of the approach to Briey (and used stills from it as a source for graphic work) suggests that he was attuned to this.

In pictures like those in the Cabin series, Doig becomes a history painter or illustrator, but not one who turns to the stories of others for subjects. Henry James chose to have the New York edition of his novels illustrated with photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn. They were not strictly speaking illustrations and certainly did not compete with the images the words created, yet they did genuinely enrich the texts. They were not merely embellishments. When the publishers of classic fiction rake the archives for old paintings to put on covers they are after the same thing: a visual correlative that doesn’t interfere with the author’s work. The faces readers give a heroine, the architecture they imagine for a country house, are often both strong and vague. They would be hard put to say exactly what the character looks like, but are easily irritated by unwanted specificity.

Doig’s obliquity would qualify his work for the game of literary/graphic marriages. In Lapeyrouse Wall a man walks away from you, following the line of a long wall: it is piebald below, pink, as though tiled, on top. It’s hot; only his feet can find the comfort of its brief shadow. For the rest he must depend on the one cast by the flowered umbrella he carries. He wears a black baseball cap and glasses. You can’t see his face; you only learn from the catalogue that the wall hides a cemetery. The picture is laden with narrative possibilities, but you, not the painter, must tell, or find, the story.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

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.