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

Letters

Vol. 38 No. 1 · 7 January 2016

Search by issue:

Is that it for the NHS?

Peter Roderick is right to trace the ills of the NHS to the Thatcher-Clarke ‘reforms’ of 1990 (LRB, 3 December 2015). Having worked as a hospital physician in the NHS between 1968 and 2007, I see the Lansley Act of 2012 as the latest stage in a long process of fragmentation, marketisation and erosion of professionalism. There are two effects of this process that I think should be more widely understood. The first is that before 1990 the NHS ran on goodwill, which has now largely been dissipated. The extra, usually uncounted, unpaid hours that people are willing to put in when they are public servants tend to disappear under a commercial or quasi-commercial regime. I suspect that politicians who thought that commercial pressures and competition would improve efficiency had no idea what they stood to lose, and probably thought that staff were, on average, taking what they could get away with rather than giving more than they were paid for.

Second, when providers are private or, like foundation trusts, quasi-commercial there is an incentive to increase activity. The more patients seen, the more investigations or operations performed, the better the bottom line (as long as the accountants and contract lawyers have done their work well). This makes for overdiagnosis, overinvestigation, overtreatment, iatrogenic disease and quackery. It is almost an invitation to profit from public gullibility.

Nicholas Dennis
Winchester

Among the Sufis

Jenny Diski seems to have had a mixed time with Idries Shah’s ‘Sufis’ (LRB, 17 December 2015). What she disliked ‘more and more’ about them ‘was that sense of belonging to an elite … who thought they had access to a secret that others didn’t’. She also refers to ‘the Sufi who, on hearing of Doris’s death just weeks after [her son] Peter’s, told me that at last they were together for ever.’ No Sufi, by the sound of it; more agony aunt. It sounds as if she encountered only one actual Sufi, Shah himself.

Shah didn’t work with other Sufis at Langton Green, his home in Kent. It would have been pointless. In the Middle East and beyond, people at various times invited to participate in study activity would have been termed ‘dervishes’ or ‘darwishes’ (from the Persian, a seeker, someone at the door, an entrance to something or somewhere). Here, they were called students. He, Teacher – never guru. Gurus were a bane of his life, for the confusion caused, and the source of a good few of his jokes. Unlike the guru, the Sufi’s objective, always, is to get the student to a point where they can go it alone, having developed the necessary mental skills in an ancient, practical form of psychology – and intuition. Sufis say: ‘When the work is completed, the workshop is dismantled.’ The aim of the guru in the flowing robes and preposterous beard, by contrast, is a following of unquestioning disciples for life, if bankably possible.

So, the people Diski disliked were neither Sufis nor an elite in the customary sense. Doris Lessing, whom I met a number of times in the 1960s and early 1970s, had not I think become a Sufi, and referred to Shah as ‘my teacher and my friend’. Shah, as with Sufis throughout history, had students from among society’s most materially unexceptional and often the surprisingly young. What he sought was potential. Given his task of spreading Sufism at all reachable levels of society, he did indeed draw about him groups of men and women of social influence, not all of them as students, to help advance his ‘brief’. That this worked is clear from the international spread of his university lectureships and in the reach of his more than thirty published works, sold in a dozen translations and in their millions.

Seán Gallagher
Eastbourne

The Fair Sentimentalist

Steven Shapin writes that in Michael Gordin’s ‘well-founded judgment, there’s no quality intrinsic to the English language that makes it suited to be a global scientific tongue: it’s not “easier" than many other languages’ (LRB, 3 December 2015). Robert Louis Stevenson found it was. Travelling in Polynesia in 1888 he encountered English everywhere. He recalls in his book In the South Seas ‘a Marshall Island boy who spoke excellent English; this he had learned in the German firm in Jaluit, yet did not speak one word of German. I heard from a gendarme who had taught school in Rapa-iti that while the children had the utmost difficulty or reluctance to learn French, they picked up English on the wayside, and as if by accident.’ Most of all, Stevenson was struck by something he ‘heard on the verandah of the Tribunal at Noumea’ where the audience were awaiting the verdict in a case of infanticide against a native woman. ‘An anxious, amiable French lady … was eager for acquittal, and declared she would engage the prisoner to be her children’s nurse. The bystanders exclaimed at the proposal; the woman was a savage, said they, and spoke no language. “Mais, vous savez," objected the fair sentimentalist; “ils apprennent si vite l’anglais!"’

Anthony Paul
Amsterdam

On Bombing Syria

James Meek makes some very good points about Parliament’s decision to back the bombing of Syria (LRB, 17 December 2015). But he misses the historical context. How any British politician after the events of Suez in 1956 could think that what Britain does on the world stage makes a significant difference for worse or better is puzzling. It suggests a generation in denial about recent British history.

Keith Flett
London N17

Sticking up for Natasha

Perhaps we all lead interesting, silly lives, as Andrew O’Hagan suggests the Spenders did (LRB, 17 December 2015). In the 1980s I became involved with the house in St John’s Wood as house-sitter and student – not of Stephen, but of Natasha. Her ‘silly’ life had led her to study psychology at UCL, and to become, for a while, the leading authority on the psychology of music, contributing a magisterial and near-monograph-length subject entry to the 1980 edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music. I encountered her when she delivered the occasional lecture to my undergraduate year in music at City University, which inspired me to adopt the subject for my PhD and led to something like friendship (which thirty years on and some thirty doctoral students later I now recognise as an integral part of a successful supervisor-graduate student relationship). For two or three years I lived in the Spender house when its inhabitants were abroad, usually at Mas St Jerôme, their house in the south of France. I got to know Natasha better than most, our friendship serving her intellectual needs rather than any other. Stephen was generally a shy and lanky presence tottering in the background, with little evidence of his ‘administrative energy’. Indeed, the only occasion on which I recall him as being foregrounded was when Natasha and he turned up with Isherwood and Don Bachardy late one evening. Natasha had asked me to stay on – I’m not sure why, as I was scarcely the type of conversationalist Isherwood required, other than in my role as audience for a series of anecdotes about Berlin during which Stephen beamed bashfully, shedding half a century in the process. But ‘silly’? Natasha changed my life.

Ian Cross
Cambridge

Andrew O’Hagan’s piece reminds me of the one time I met Spender. There was a writing school that met on a Saturday somewhere in Pennsylvania. I was there to discuss science writing, Spender to talk about poetry. I sat in on his class and admired his patience when reading out loud the most terrible poetry one could imagine. Finally I couldn’t stand it and told him that when I was at Harvard T.S. Eliot gave a public lecture and was asked what he thought the most beautiful lines in the English language were. Eliot had replied without hesitation: ‘But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,/Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.’ I asked Spender what his choice would be. He replied with some lines of Auden about the moon. I have looked through Auden’s poems and have never found anything that resembles what I remember. I suppose Spender was earning his living this way.

Jeremy Bernstein
New York

Memories of the Fog

Four days after the Luftwaffe raid of 16 October 1939 referred to by Harry Watson and Paul Machon, all those who died were buried with military honours (Letters, 19 November 2015 and Letters, 3 December 2015). The coffins of the two Germans were draped with swastikas. A photograph of the funeral procession accompanied a report, headed ‘Britain honours her own and Nazi dead alike,’ in the Daily Mirror the following day. Were such obsequies observed for enemy personnel killed later in the war?

David Martin
Sheffield

Reassuringly Expensive

John Lanchester cites two Nobel economists on the apparent irrationality of people paying more for branded than for chemically identical unbranded ibuprofen (LRB, 3 December 2015). There may, however, be a further issue in need of explanation: studies such as Branthwaite and Cooper’s in the British Medical Journal in 1981 show that branded drugs ‘work’ better than unbranded – and, in blind trials, branded placebos work better than unbranded.

John Craven
Petersfield, Hampshire

Electability

In his letter Bill Johnson makes several more or less contentious points about the problems of the Labour Party (Letters, 19 November 2015). He is right to emphasise the extent to which the decay of its institutional and industrial base has undermined it, as such decay has undermined every Western social-democractic party. He underestimates, however, the way in which simultaneous changes in the structure of the media have reinforced that process. When the Labour Party reached its peak in 1951 so did the Daily Mirror. At present Labour has no access to a powerful press and legislation brought in by the last Labour government neutered television as an alternative. Even at the most elementary level the Labour Party has effectively no instrument of mass communication. That was very apparent at the last election.

Johnson says that it does not make ‘a blind bit of difference’ how parties elect their leaders. It makes more than a blind bit when their electoral arrangements elect the wrong leader – as the Labour Party did this year. The election of Corbyn is the long-term result of ill-considered changes which now seem almost irreversible, but unless reversed are likely to continue producing wrong leaders.

On the other hand, Johnson exaggerates the electoral strength of the Conservative Party. Its base, he says, is as ‘healthy as ever’. It isn’t. The social base of the Tory Party began to fragment in the 1980s and 1990s and it remains historically weak. This fragmentation gave New Labour an opportunity which it then almost wilfully threw away. All we can say is that, for the moment, the Tory social base is less insecure than Labour’s.

Johnson is right to suggest that nothing is to be gained by trying to rebuild the old structures of social democracy (though I’m not sure who is doing that); also right to argue that Labour will have to look for new allies – simply because the majority of the population are no longer working class. However, he chooses odd examples – ‘small businessmen, shop-owners, small farmers and so on’. Labour has tried to enrol them for the last hundred years with virtually no success.

Ross McKibbin
St John’s College, Oxford

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.