In the Critics this week

Tudor obsessions, Vladimir Nabokov and Cuba's child boxers.

This week, our art critic Tim Adams explores the current mania for all things Tudor, starting with the National Gallery's exhibition of Paul Delaroche's The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. In Books, Lesley Chamberlain is impressed by a piece of literary detective work that investigates the hidden meanings of Vladimir Nabokov's novels, while John Gray delves in to the conspiracy-ridden world of anarchist subversives at the turn of the last century.

Elswewhere, Rachel Cooke enjoys Bill Buford's food tour of France, Leo Robson reviews the new Ian McEwan novel, Melissa Benn salutes the literary life of Maggie Gee and Jonathan Safran Foer explains what it was like growing up in a house of young prodigies.

Plus, we have columns from the rest of our award-winning critics: Daniel Trilling on grime, Ryan Gilbey on Cuba's child boxers, Andrew Billen on the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Antonia Quirke on a radio tribute to Jacques Brel and Will Self on the modern lynch mob.

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"Samphire": a poem by Alison Brackenbury

"Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light. . . ."

My grandmother could cook it, for
she grew up by that dangerous shore
where the sea skulked without a wall

where I have seen it, tough as grass,
where silent men with rods trooped past
its salty ranks, without a glance.

Lear’s gatherer hangs perilously.
Why? So much is closed to me.
Did Shakespeare ever hear the sea?

Once, said my father, far inland,
from friend or stall, one clutch was found,
steamed, in my grandmother’s great pan.

Once, a smooth leaflet from a shop
claimed they could “source it”, but they stocked
bunched, peppered cress – Another gap.

Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light,
stalks I will never taste, could make
tenderly dark, my coast’s sly snake,
salt on my tongue, before I wake.

Alison Brackenbury is an award-winning poet. Her ninth collection, Skies, will be published by Carcanet in March

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle