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


Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

Let’s Cut to the WailMichael Wood

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.
An Oresteia 
translated by Anne Carson.
Faber, 255 pp., $27, March 2009, 978 0 86547 902 9
Show More
Show More

Some time ago the scholar Jean-Pierre Vernant reminded us that Greek gods are not persons but forces; and in Anne Carson’s Oresteia, her sharp, sceptical, often laconic version of three plays about the legacy of Atreus, one each by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, as well as in her translations of four other plays by Euripides,* I kept hearing an invitation to extend and refine the thought. These gods are the names of forces humans cannot otherwise name and must still name somehow.

Do you belong to a group of persons like the old men left behind in Argos during the Trojan War, eager to believe in some sort of universal justice, however often it lies in abeyance?

Do you think the gods ignore a man who
steps on holy things?

Of course they don’t; or at least they shouldn’t: Zeus is the god who punishes excess and impiety. Are you anxious, as those same old men are, to assume that suffering brings wisdom? Then you will call on Zeus again, although perhaps not with all the confidence you would like.

Zeus! whoever Zeus is –
if he likes this name I’ll use it –
measuring everything that exists I can
compare with Zeus nothing
except Zeus.
May he take this weight from my heart …

Zeus put mortals on the road to wisdom
when he laid down this law:
By suffering we learn …

‘Whoever Zeus is’; ‘I can/compare with Zeus nothing/except Zeus.’ Elsewhere the same chorus says, ‘Zeus acts as Zeus ordains,’ and these tautologies and open-ended provisions suggest that even for pious persons Zeus is the name for what order would look like if there was an order. Hugh Lloyd-Jones, in the notes to his translation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, says it is important for ancient Greek worshippers to get the name of the god right, ‘otherwise he may not hear or may not listen.’ And Lloyd-Jones’s phrasing – ‘if this name is pleasing to him’ – clearly strikes a less sceptical or less breezy note than Carson’s ‘if he likes this name I’ll use it.’ But Lloyd-Jones does recall in this context Heraclitus’ wonderfully cryptic ‘One thing, the only truly wise, does not and does consent to be called by the name of Zeus.’

These old men – they appear in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon – think of justice as some sort of ultimate moral balance. But when other characters in the same play speak of justice they generally mean vengeance or retaliation or the satisfaction of old grudges. Klytaimestra (I’m going to follow Carson’s spelling) explicitly associates the term with what she calls her two other gods, Ruin and Revenge. No aspiration to order there. In her introduction Carson finely says: ‘Almost everyone in the play claims to know what justice is and to have it on their side … The many meanings of the word justice have shaped the history of the house of Atreus into a gigantic double bind.’ She even goes so far as to doubt whether Aeschylus ‘wants to clarify the concept of justice in any final way’. He may of course want to clarify the sheer difficulty of the notion.

If we turn to the other plays in the volume, we find that characters in Sophocles’ Elektra pray to Apollo as if he were the name of whatever there might be in the universe that could help them get their way; and in Euripides’ Orestes they wax openly sarcastic about the same god’s moral interests. ‘There ought to be a law against a mother like that,’ Elektra says of Klytaimestra. ‘Turns out there is: Apollo.’ When Apollo himself appears at the end of the play to sort everything out, the effect is frankly burlesque. Carson writes of ‘moments … where exasperation verges on farce’, and in Grief Lessons sees Euripides more generally as caught ‘between resignation and satire’. In her translation, Apollo and Orestes talk to each other as if they were a couple of good old boys rearranging the collateral damage from a wild night on the town. ‘I’ll fix up Orestes’ relations with Argos,’ Apollo says. ‘It was me made him murder his mother.’ Orestes is grateful but curiously unsurprised. ‘Apollo of oracles!’ he says. ‘So you were no false prophet!/But I admit I was getting nervous.’ ‘Getting nervous’: this is a man who in other plays is driven mad by the Furies, and even in this play has said: ‘My mind is gone.’

Of the goddess who dominates Euripides’ Hippolytos (one of the plays in Grief Lessons), Carson says: ‘Aphrodite is the name for all that Hippolytos wants to edit out of his view of reality.’ Edit out or edit in: there is always some sort of editorial action in relation to the gods. They are figures for what humans want or don’t want, and also of what is beyond their reach or control; images of agency scrawled on the face of chance. I don’t mean to blur the distinctions among the three dramatists, as if all three (and all Greeks) had the same view of the gods, and I don’t want to turn them all into atheists. I want only to suggest that there is plenty of room for scepticism even in the loftiest of these writers, and that the distance between those who believe there must be a divine order (because there absolutely must be) and those who believe there can’t be (because they see no evidence of one) is not as large as it may at first look, since it rests on a shared absence of hard knowledge and on a range of estimations of desire. Carson says Euripides was interested in ‘what it’s like to be a human being in a family, in a fantasy, in a longing, in a mistake’. The terms are a little casual for the grandeur of the situations in Aeschylus and Sophocles but they are not inaccurate. It’s true that characters in Aeschylus inhabit their mistakes with tremendous horror or relish, while those in Euripides mainly contemplate the mess they have made or inherited. In Sophocles they cultivate their difficult obsessions and seek scraps of moral dignity in a context that hardly seems to have heard of the idea.

This is familiar ground, though, and Carson’s book suggests we go on to think about something rather different: the immense familiarity of the ancient Greek stories themselves, the sense of déjà vu haunting even the first performance of any of these great plays. Déjà vu and not quite déjà vu. Every story was known before its first telling – or if not literally before its first telling, before any particular recorded telling – and every telling was slightly different. It’s not just that all interpretations of a myth are instances of the myth, as Lévi-Strauss said (Freud and Sophocles are both dramatists of the tale of Oedipus): it’s that all instances of the myth are interpretations of it, as if they were played from a musical score that everyone knows but no one possesses. It is in this sense that there can be such a thing as what Carson calls ‘an’ Oresteia.

The Oresteia, of course, is Aeschylus’ trilogy: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides. But once Carson has replaced, so to speak, the second play with Sophocles’ Elektra and the third with Euripides’ Orestes, we can dream of four other plays in two other trilogies and, more immediately, we can see what happens when different musicians play the same score. In any version, of course, certain things will happen. Before the play opens, in a previous generation, Atreus will have cooked and served his brother Thyestes’ children to him, sliced them into soup, as Carson has a character say in Orestes, although the reference in Agamemnon suggests something more like a stew. As if to generalise this story, or to make sure it never leaves our minds, other cooked children keep coming up in the allusions characters make in the plays: to Tantalos, who offered his son as a meal to the gods; to the nightingale who used to be Prokne before she fed her son to her rapist husband. Agamemnon will have sacrificed his and Klytaimestra’s daughter in return for a favourable wind on the way to Troy.

The Trojan War will have been fought. Then, within the performed sequence, Agamemnon will return from Troy, bringing with him Kassandra as his princess-slave. Klytaimestra will kill him, with or without the assistance of Aigisthos, Thyestes’ remaining son. Elektra, the child of Klytaimestra and Agamemnon, will mourn her father and keen for vengeance. Her brother Orestes will return to Argos and pretend to be dead. Then he will kill his mother and her lover. He will go mad after the event, and be pursued by the Furies, who in Aeschylus, with some reluctance, after Orestes’ acquittal by a divinely constituted human court in Athens, finally become the Eumenides, the Kindly Ones. In Euripides, as we shall see, something else happens, although Orestes is still absolved.

Even in this bald and compressed form the story can be seen as offering an extraordinary combination of hereditary curse and multiple motivation. Could anyone survive unharmed in a domain where all-out war seems to be the natural climate of both family and marriage? Does Klytaimestra kill Agamemnon as an act of long-planned revenge for his sacrifice of their daughter to his war aims? Or because she has taken her husband’s family enemy as her lover? Is this affair part of her revenge or just a sideline? Can Orestes not avenge the death of his father? Should he kill his mother? If he asks the advice of a god, what moral status does that advice have? When he is acquitted in Aeschylus, it is because Apollo pleads for him and Athene decides the case, casting the deciding vote when the jury stalls at six voices for acquittal and six for condemnation. Zeus doesn’t appear, and Athene, curiously, makes her tie-breaking move before she knows there is a tie – that is, before the votes are counted. It’s true that any goddess, and many a human, can tell when a hung jury is in the offing, but the procedure is curious all the same. The ancient curse seems inescapable, but doesn’t relieve anyone from blame – or from the feeling or accusation of blame.

In this framework the variants on the story become inordinately interesting. They can’t change any major event or moral dilemma, but they can move events around, add or subtract them, and shift whole swathes of atmosphere. And since Carson starts with Aeschylus, whose other plays we have, we can watch the roads diverge. In The Libation Bearers, Orestes returns, meets up with Elektra, and the two spend a good portion of the play invoking the help of the powers of darkness in the killing they have to do. ‘Two murderous children,’ Carson says, ‘are (arguably) redeemed by mutual love’; and certainly their need of so much prayer makes them anything but unreflective killers. ‘You lords of the underworld,’ Orestes says (in Ted Hughes’s translation),

You crowned and enthroned curses,
Look at us.
The last shreds of the house of Atreus –
Bereft of all but bare life,
Benighted in this darkest pit of our fate –
Lead us. Guide us.

And a little later Elektra prays:

Persephone, Queen of the Underworld,
Direct our steps.

Then Orestes, having prayed for good measure to Hermes, ‘God of the dark pathways’, pretends to be a foreigner arriving with the news of Orestes’ death.

In Sophocles’ Elektra, Orestes’ pretence of death starts earlier, and is inflicted on Elektra too. Why does he do this? And why does he wait so long to relieve her of her pain? It is indeed ‘deeply odd’, as Carson says, ‘that Elektra’s profoundest emotional outpouring … should be evoked by a fake object’. She speaks one of the world’s great laments to an urn that does not contain the ashes of her brother. She asks to hold the object – ‘I have tears to keep,’ she says, ‘I have ashes to weep’ – and Orestes, still pretending to be a stranger, brutally says to his friend Pylades, who is carrying the thing: ‘Bring it here, give it to her, whoever she is.’ She says:

If this were all you were, Orestes,
how could your memory
fill my memory …
You are nothing at all.
Just a crack where the light slipped through …
Now our enemies rock with laughter.
And she runs mad for joy –
that creature
in the shape of your mother –
how often you said you would come
one secret evening and cut her throat!
But our luck cancelled that,
whatever luck is.
And instead my beloved,
luck sent you back to me
colder than ashes,
later than shadow.

This fake death is so real that it’s not at all clear Orestes can get over it, whatever he does. Earlier in the play, considering his stratagem (technically just a scheme to come close to Klytaimestra and Aigisthos without causing any suspicion), he says: ‘What harm can it do/to die in words?’ Presumably everyone who has ever watched or read this work has groaned at this moment, even without knowing how long he will keep up the act or with what results. There can scarcely have been a rhetorical question that was less rhetorical. The play ends as it has to, with corpses offstage, and a chorus (of local women) speaking blindly of freedom for the ‘seed of Atreus’.

David Kovacs, another recent translator of Euripides’ Orestes, tells us the play was ‘immensely popular in antiquity’, but this fact only increases his puzzlement, which he shares with Carson. ‘This most baffling play,’ Kovacs says, ‘has a plot that seems to be the poet’s free invention.’ An invention within the narrative limits I’ve sketched above, of course, but we scarcely feel any restriction as we read, and Carson wonders whether we can detect any purpose. The play ‘seems to unfold’, she says, ‘like a bolt of cloth falling down stairs, spilling itself, random’. She goes on to wonder whether randomness is not perhaps the play’s point, but her version of the text suggests the idea may take one more twist.

Here Orestes has not gone off to Delphi to throw himself on the mercy of the god whose advice he took: he is still in Argos, asleep, delirious, and then rather suddenly scheming again. He and Elektra are about to be condemned by the people of Argos to death by stoning. Helen is here to grieve for her sister Klytaimestra, and so are her prevaricating husband Menelaos, and her angry father Tyndareus: quite a gathering. Orestes hopes Menelaos will support him in the assembly, but there is no chance of that – it’s quite possible that Menelaos has a cautious eye on the throne and certainly knows there is no political mileage in supporting a matricide. Orestes and Elektra are about to give up the fight and accept their sentence – they will be allowed to kill themselves, it turns out, rather than have to submit to stoning – when Pylades has an idea: they could murder Helen; that would be popular. They set out to do this, kidnapping Helen’s daughter Hermione on the way, but Apollo (or Euripides) has finally had enough. The god descends, whisks Helen away into some sort of transubstantiation (‘She will sit in the folds of the sky beside Kastor and Pollux’), marries Elektra to Pylades, tells Orestes to go to Athens and stand trial – to rejoin the plot of The Eumenides, in other words – and after that he can marry Hermione. Orestes accepts the deal, as Menelaos superfluously reminds him he must, and wryly says: ‘I make my peace with circumstances, Menelaos,/and also with your oracles, Apollo.’ Apollo says Peace is the ‘most beautiful of gods’, and they all live happily ever after.

We seem to have shifted into Shakespearean romance or even Hollywood screwball comedy. And in one sense we have. Carson reminds us that Aristotle thought that Euripides, ‘whatever the ineptitudes of his stagecraft’, was ‘the most tragic’ of the tragic poets. Here, I think, is where her idea that there is ‘something terrible in randomness’ is trumped by the dramatist himself. There is something even more terrible in the blatant, cynical, impossible taming of randomness, in the assertion of an order which even its architect does not believe in, and there are many milder works, including some fairy tales, where the happy ending can only be a desperate irony, precisely what’s available only in words, as Orestes might say.

I’m basing these suggestions on Anne Carson’s words rather than those of Euripides, which I can’t read – to be precise, I can read a few famous words, but not sentences or tone. And it’s important to understand what her consistent and at times apparently frivolous modernising (or Americanising) of idiom is doing. ‘So you got good news?’ people say. ‘You’re optimistic?’ And ‘I’ll be okay,’ and ‘Oh come on, relax your principles.’ They say ‘No kidding’ and ‘Let’s cut to the wail.’ Helen, the woman who in other translations is said to have killed off so many of the Achaeans, is called ‘that weapon of mass destruction’. At the end of Klytaimestra’s grand false welcome home speech, Agamemnon says (in Hughes’s translation), ‘Your eulogies are like my absence:/Too long, too much,’ and (in Lloyd-Jones’s version): ‘Your speech matches my absence;/for you have drawn it out at length.’ Carson has him say: ‘You have made a speech to match my absence –/ long.’ There is no great difference in meaning, but Agamemnon begins to sound like a comedian, and we haven’t even got to Euripides yet. However, Carson’s strategy is not, as it may seem, to bring these old Greeks up to date, to make them our contemporaries. It is to remind us that we are their contemporaries, that we have not left the violent domain they so fiercely drew for us. She makes us at home in their language so that we can more thoroughly understand their vision of how not at home in the world we are.

Send Letters To:

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

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.


Vol. 31 No. 14 · 23 July 2009

Michael Wood observes that when Orestes is acquitted in The Eumenides, it is because Apollo pleads for him (LRB, 11 June). In fact, as counsel for the defence, Apollo is something of a dud (one of his key arguments is that the mother of a child is not a parent but merely a vessel for the seed). Wood also notes that it is curious that Athena makes her tie-breaking move – the exoneration of the matricide Orestes – before she knows there is a tie. Although, admittedly, a legally questionable procedure, this is not necessarily a surprising move on Athena’s part. The Eumenides may well mark the epochal advent of the rule of law; but this enlightened construct is to be underpinned by the enduring reality of male dominance. This is what Athena – sprung from an Olympian male brain – is publicly and everlastingly sanctioning.

Frederick Sweet

send letters to

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

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.