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. 40 No. 20 · 25 October 2018

Search by issue:

Here was a plague

Whatever sins can be blamed on Thatcherism, the fact that 60 per cent of Edinburgh’s injecting drug users (IDUs) turned out to be HIV positive when testing began in the mid-1980s cannot be attributed to Thatcherite policies, as Tom Crewe implies they can be (LRB, 27 September). It certainly puzzled epidemiologists that in no other British city (including Glasgow, less than fifty miles away) was the figure much higher than about 10 per cent, and in many places it was much lower. There are two main hypotheses. First, there was a crackdown by Edinburgh police on the carrying of syringes (leading to more sharing of paraphernalia) and an almost complete lack of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in Scotland at the time. However, in 2001 a study found that more than half of London IDUs were still sharing; they were just less likely to share with strangers. As for methadone, the decision of the British addiction establishment to discourage MMT in the early 1980s, just as the first dependable controlled trials showed how helpful it could be and just as the HIV epidemic was exploding, made MMT increasingly difficult to obtain across the whole of the UK. Governments played absolutely no part in that decision. The policy was reversed towards the end of the 1990s, but only after many lives had been needlessly damaged or lost. Calvinist attitudes may have made MMT even harder to obtain in Scotland, but only somewhat.

The second, more likely explanation for Edinburgh’s unique epidemic is its festival, one of the oldest and largest in the world. Many Americans attend or take part; unrecognised HIV infection exploded among gay Americans around 1980, long before other Western countries and sub-groups; and sexual minorities are over-represented in the arts. Also, it’s difficult to believe that Edinburgh’s IDUs ignored the opportunities the festival provided for locals to earn extra money. Heroin addicts are often driven to do things they would prefer not to do: shoplifting, small-scale drug-dealing, selling sex. Both male and female addicts do that, including men who don’t identify as gay or bisexual: hence the categorisation of at-risk populations simply as ‘MSM’, Men who have Sex with Men.

Around 1980, therefore, what had been virologically unhazardous encounters for gay (or adaptable) Edinburgh IDUs in the 1970s suddenly became extremely dangerous, but it wasn’t until about three years later that anyone realised this and began to act on it. During that short but crucial period, many people in many countries got infected with HIV who might have avoided infection had they known more than the experts knew. Edinburgh had far more IDUs in that category because the Edinburgh Festival attracted far more unknowingly HIV-positive gay and bisexual Americans per head of the local population than other British cities and they often stayed for several weeks.

Between 1980 and 1983, I provided a (rarely requested) psychiatry service to a busy NHS London STD clinic. Increasing numbers of otherwise healthy gay men were mentioning, in passing, that they had noticed enlarged but painless lymph glands. Many had visited the US. If we removed a gland and sent it for microscopic examination, nothing specific was ever found. Naturally, we reassured them: ‘Lot of it about, probably a virus, no need to worry, expect it will settle, come back if it doesn’t.’ We certainly didn’t say: ‘On no account have sex with anyone unless you or they are wearing a condom. And don’t forget to make a will.’

Colin Brewer
London SE1

I was completely knocked back reading Tom Crewe’s essay on Aids, back to my life in 1990, when HIV and Aids dominated much of what I did as a women’s health and reproductive rights activist, and as a writer and editor. The first thing I wrote about HIV was in 1985, when it struck me that the use of untested donated blood in transfusions designed to treat anaemia in pregnancy and to prevent maternal deaths from haemorrhage may have been one of the main reasons women in Africa were getting HIV.

Crewe focuses on gay men in the US and UK. HIV/Aids as a major factor in women’s health wasn’t officially acknowledged by international agencies until a meeting in Paris in November 1989. The issue first received public recognition on World Aids Day on 1 December 1990, and professional attention at the eighth International Aids Conference in Amsterdam in 1992. Women were getting ill and dying all that time, but they knew nothing. The years of delay in making antiretroviral (ARV) treatment available in Africa, and especially to pregnant women to prevent transmission during pregnancy and breastfeeding, are unconscionable. I recall being ridiculed when I said at a Department for International Development meeting with NGOs that was designed to address HIV in the global South, that it was urgent to get ARV treatment to Africa. The senior DFID representative scoffed that that would never happen, it cost far too much. I was not invited to attend another meeting.

The number of people who died in the prime of their lives doesn’t allow for Crewe’s nostalgia about the pre-HIV gay sex scene. The people with HIV I talked to for my book with Sunanda Ray, Women and HIV/Aids (1993), weren’t worried about missing out on the fun of sex. They were anxious about ‘the risk of infection that they represented to others; social, occupational, domestic and sexual hostility and rejection; being abandoned and left alone in pain; an inability to alter their circumstances; the ability of partners, family, friends and others to cope with their problems; the availability of treatment and care; the possible loss of privacy and confidentiality; a declining ability to cope; and the loss of physical and financial independence’.

Marge Berer
London EC2

Tom Crewe writes: I don’t think I’m ‘nostalgic’ for the pre-HIV sex scene – envious, certainly. Nor did I claim that people with HIV felt themselves to be ‘missing out on the fun of sex’, though it would be very odd if this wasn’t one aspect of the appalling misery of infection, especially in the pre-symptom period – Oscar Moore and Derek Jarman both thought it was and I quoted them saying so. Marge Berer’s broader implication, that because gay sex became in the 1970s the vector for a previously unrecognised disease, it must for ever fall under its shadow, is more troubling. Let’s try a thought experiment: if we view the days when heterosexuals could have sex without risking HIV transmission as a happier time, in Africa for example, are we guilty of nostalgia? Are we somehow invalidating or diminishing the subsequent suffering? I don’t think so. Lurking here seems to be an old assumption: that casual, non-procreative sex with multiple partners can only ever be trivial, superfluous, a ‘lifestyle choice’. Perhaps it was a problem all along.

He got it all from me!

Colin Burrow, in his review of Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s biography of Robert Graves, would not be quite so bemused if he had a better understanding of the background to Graves’s work (LRB, 11 October). Burrow’s irritation with The White Goddess (1948) is instructive. I once said to Laura Riding: ‘But there are some good ideas in there [The White Goddess], aren’t there?’ She drew her shoulders up and smacked the table. ‘Of course there are!’ she said, eyes wide. ‘He got it all from me!’ The figure of the ‘white goddess’ itself sprang from her earliest collection of poems, The Close Chaplet (1926), although she makes perfect sense of the notion, while Graves exaggerates it to a grotesque extent. The lengthy discourse in The White Goddess on words and their meanings, and their ‘sympathetic associations’ with each other (e.g., apple = Avalon = Apollo and so on) derive directly from Riding’s essays and writings on language, from Contemporaries & Snobs (1928), Anarchism Is Not Enough (1928), and on and on through her work, including her poems. The confusion shared by all commentators concerning The White Goddess and, equally, any number of Graves’s poems, is down to the fact they have not bothered to read Riding’s work. As Graves emphatically wrote in 1963, when he was still clear-minded, to his critic Douglas Day (Swifter than Reason), until critics understood her, they would not understand him.

By contrast with The White Goddess, Burrow finds The Reader over Your Shoulder (1943) ‘very readable’ and with ‘much sound advice’. The sparkling spring for that book is to be found in Laura Riding’s essay, ‘The Exercise of English’ (1936). Graves gives no acknowledgment of Riding in his book. So much for her, ‘the maddest woman’. So much for Nancy Nicholson, a ‘feminist’. So much for Beryl Graves (‘Beryl Pritchard’, as Burrow calls her), somehow on ‘the edge of this magnetic circle of master manipulators for some time’. So much for Margot Callas, with ‘a shelf-life of only about three years’. Burrow and Moorcroft Wilson don’t get it: Graves could not have survived without them. They kept him to a proportion – ‘Blup, blup, blup,’ Nicholson and Riding used to sing to him whenever he pontificated. He knew their value. Take, for example, the quotation Burrow finds in Wilson’s book:

There’s a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at last and coldly die
In brininess and volubility.

This is from one of Graves’s finest poems, critics agree, ‘The Cool Web’, published in 1926 in a collection dedicated to ‘NN and LR’. Guess where the ‘cool web of language’ comes from. Guess where the entire meaning comes from.

‘Facts matter,’ Burrow says. Well, fictions abound in his review, as they do in Wilson’s book. Riding’s ‘auto-defenestration’ wasn’t from a ‘fourth-storey window’: it was the third storey. Graves’s house in Mallorca was not ‘funded chiefly by royalties from I, Claudius’; it was bought jointly by Riding and Graves, was designed by Riding, and was registered in Riding’s name in 1932, two years before I, Claudius was published. ‘In collaboration with Riding he wrote A Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927),’ Burrow says. No, he didn’t write it: she wrote it, he collaborated, as recent scholarship, of which Moorcroft Wilson and Burrow seem blithely unaware, demonstrates.

The ‘fact’ is that acknowledgment of Riding’s place in Graves’s work would enhance his reputation, not diminish it, by lending it a sane perspective. Graves was a fine poet, as Burrow acknowledges, and never more so than during his 14-year association with Riding, which even his previous biographers admit. What does that suggest?

Mark Jacobs
Nottingham Trent University

Churchill at the BBC

Gillian Nelson and Raymond Clayton’s childhood memories of the BBC prompted two vivid memories of my own (Letters, 27 September). The first is from 3 September 1939, my parents’ joint birthday; I was four at the time. It was a Sunday, and we were moving into the front room from our normal living quarters, the kitchen. There was a ritual lighting of a fire and the transfer of a large wooden wireless powered by two large batteries, recharged weekly at the village garage. Shortly after the wireless was up and running I was called to order and my attention focused on a solemn male voice. I sometimes believe that I remember the words, but I presume that is the effect of many subsequent hearings. My mother began to cry. My father comforted her. I inquired as to the reason for this dismay on a day intended for rejoicing. My father replied that a war had been declared and that it would bring a great deal of trouble and misery.

The other memory is provoked by Raymond Clayton’s recollection of Churchill’s broadcasts and the sense they conveyed of ‘reassurance and resolve’. I come from a South Yorkshire coalmining community and Churchill’s reputation was poisonous – it would have been difficult to say who was the greater enemy, Hitler or Churchill. Hitler annoyed us with his overflights of bomber squadrons, during which we were forced to take shelter in a cellar reinforced by discarded pit props. But Churchill’s voice on the wireless or appearance on the cinema newsreel rekindled memories of his role in the Tonypandy coal strike of 1910-11 and his vitriolic opposition to the miners during the 1926 lock-out, which marked the beginning of an era of hardship in mining communities that lasted until the outbreak of war. I remember the reaction to the most celebrated of Churchill’s wartime speeches. Again I am unsure of my recollection of his words. I am sure of the reaction: ‘Aye, our sweat, our toil, our tears – he’ll be eating best steak and smoking his bloody cigar’; and ‘We’ll be doing the fighting, that bugger’s got a plane waiting to take him to Canada’; and ‘He talks as though he’s got a tomato stuffed in his mouth.’

Coal production was a chronic, disabling problem throughout the war. The ‘Bevin Boy’ conscripts were generally discontented with their fate and no more enthusiastic than the existing miners. I have no memory, and can find no report, of Churchill visiting a mining community. Apparently his name is still anathema in what are now ex-mining communities.

John Robbins
Crafers, South Australia

It is possible that the people described by Ian Jack as having false memories of hearing Churchill’s Dunkirk speech on the wireless in 1940 did in fact hear it, less than two weeks later (LRB, 30 August). Harold Nicolson was present when the speech was made in the House of Commons on 4 June. On 17 June he referred in his diary to a speech Churchill had broadcast the previous day: ‘I do wish that Winston would not talk on the wireless unless he is feeling in good form. He hates the microphone and when we bullied him into speaking last night, he just sulked and read his House of Commons speech over again.’ Nicolson doesn’t say which speech he is referring to, but the rest of the entry suggests that it was the one about Dunkirk: ‘Now as delivered in the H of C that speech was magnificent, especially the concluding sentences. But it sounded ghastly on the wireless. All the great vigour he put into it seemed to evaporate.’

Geoffrey Taunton
Montmorillon, France

What to do with the Kaiser?

Stephen Sedley takes issue with a ‘concocted’ Daily Mail story claiming that the Kaiser would be ‘held in the Tower pending a trial at which he would be prosecuted by the solicitor-general’, ‘the bombastic’ Sir Gordon Hewart (LRB, 11 October). In fact, the Daily Mail wasn’t entirely wrong; plans for a trial involving Hewart were being drawn up. The British couldn’t predict for certain what the Dutch would do with the ex-Kaiser once the Treaty of Versailles entered into force, or indeed whether he would stay put or flee to another country. Hewart, by now attorney-general, began to lay the groundwork for Wilhelm’s prosecution just in case he did fall into the Entente’s hands. The procurator-general, Sir John Mellor; a departmental lawyer, R.W. Woods; and two silks, George Branson and Frederick Pollock, set to work on a trial plan.

Pollock, envisaging the proceedings, asked: ‘What would I do if I were William’s counsel?’

I should advise him to follow Charles I’s example – protest against the jurisdiction and the Court, and say nothing more. But if he decided to plead, then

1. Admit nothing, claim all the rights of a prisoner in an English criminal court, require strict proof of all material facts[.]

2. Make all possible dilatory objections.

3. Rely on the usual German arguments only as a last resource.

After the Dutch refused to hand over the ex-Kaiser, Hewart pulled the plug on the British prosecution plan. The ill-starred Woods was given a new project to work on: the trials of Wilhelm’s subordinates at Leipzig for war crimes.

Kirsten Sellars
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London WC1

There’s nothing harder

E.P. Thompson had an ‘epiphany’, according to Katrina Navickas, when on moving out of his comfortable intellectual milieu in 1948, he engaged in adult education in Leeds (LRB, 11 October). Thompson had grown up during the rise of fascism in the 1930s, joined the British army, served in tanks in Italy, had a brother executed in Bulgaria while fighting for the Partisans against the Nazis, returned home after the war and within six months led a railway track-laying gang in Yugoslavia in support of the Communists. Nothing, though, one must conclude, in comparison to the life-changing effects of teaching adults.

Eoin Dillon
Dublin

Shame on you, Mr Lorentzen

Christian Lorentzen should be ashamed of himself (LRB, 13 September). He writes that Alex Blum got ‘fired from his job as a youth hockey coach when parents protested at the presence of a felon in the rink. He was no longer even allowed to drive the machine that smoothed the ice.’ That machine is called a Zamboni, a vehicle much loved for its Zen-like glide and a name (its inventor’s) suggestive of a mammoth tube of pasta, whose pronunciation evokes an immediate, curious joy. Opportunities to say or write the word ‘Zamboni’ are not to be wasted, Mr Lorentzen.

Lee Gillette
Brussels

His kitchen hat was red

Clara Magnani claims that Napoleon tried to poach Chateaubriand’s chef (Letters, 11 October). Surely Napoleon, who was not renowned for his cooking abilities, would have got his own chef to do the deed. Though what ‘poached chef’ tastes like, I suppose only the French would be tempted to answer.

Andy Boobier
Skipton, North Yorkshire

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.