The latest on books and the arts


David Attenborough. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
All questions great and small: an unusually ruminative Chris Evans speaks to David Attenborough
By Antonia Quirke - 05 February 15:04

Following his on-air announcement of a prostate cancer scare last week, the Radio 2 DJ has been in thoughtful mode.

Jeremy Clarkson at the Top Gear Festival in Sydney. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: The more attention we pay to childish behaviour, the more we get
By Tracey Thorn - 05 February 14:47

Indulging childishness is why we’re stuck with Boris Johnson, Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson.

Pan and Syrinx.
Hollywood hokum: Rubens only shone when he showed some restraint
By Craig Raine - 05 February 10:54

A new Royal Academy of Arts exhibition makes Craig Raine yearn for the draughtsman rather than the dramatic.

Tom Stoppard on art, Charlie Hebdo - and why it's a bad time to be a voter
By Erica Wagner - 05 February 10:51

"Time is short, life is short. There's a lot to know."

Blackfriars tube, circa 1930. Photo: George Davison Reid
Anthony Quinn's Curtain Call: a murder mystery that captures the spirit of a decade
By Libby Purves - 05 February 10:35

With Orwell-clear prose and a Trollope-sized cast, Curtain Call makes the 1930s glitter.

The 18-year-old Antonia Pakenham in 1950. Photo: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis
Antonia Fraser and David Lodge: A tale of two writers, posh and prole
By John Mullan - 05 February 10:31

New memoirs from Antonia Fraser and David Lodge show very different British upbringings.

David Cameron and the late Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street. Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images
Where Thatcher feared to tread: Cameron’s Coup shows a man on a mission
By George Eaton - 05 February 10:20

Polly Toynbee and David Walker's Cameron's Coup is an unashamedly caustic review of the last five years.

US Military Police guard detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Photo: Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy/Getty Image
An extraordinary diary from Guantanamo Bay reveals the failure of American democracy
By David Rose - 05 February 10:17

Detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi's account of the camp is heartbreaking. But it is crucial the truth is told.

The Collier, by Robert Havell (1814). Image: Science and Society Picture Library
To be continued: how much has English society changed since 1714?
By Mark Damazer - 05 February 10:15

Much has changed in English culture since 1710. But a new book argues our systems of power are less different than we might think.

Marmalade on toast. Photo: Rex features
Why marmalade endures: the tale of a bear and his favourite preserve
By Felicity Cloake - 05 February 10:10

It's a food Felicity Cloake has enjoyed since childhood. Now Paddington is helping to revive flagging marmalade sales.

Ramekin disaster. Illustration: Jackson Rees
Will Self: Why I hate ramekins
By Will Self - 05 February 10:08

I may be late to the party, but I am tough on ramekin – and on the causes of ramekin.

Ernest Hemingway (R), who took revenge on ex-wife Martha Gelhorn in his novel “Across the River and into the Trees”. Photo: AFP/Getty
Should you be wary of writers you know? You might just be providing them with free material
By Oliver Farry - 05 February 9:00

Perhaps the most pervasive source of self-censorship for writers is their relationships with the people around them.

A still from Pride, the 2014 film about the Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners campaign.
What today’s activists can learn from the Lesbians Against Pit Closures campaign
By Rebecca Winson - 04 February 12:53

Their triumph came through recognising that although their own oppression was important, it didn’t mean they couldn’t recognise others’ struggles as well.

Emergency duvets, sword pegs and the “Plastic Fantastic”: review of Inside the Commons
By Anoosh Chakelian - 03 February 16:48

Will the first instalment of Michael Cockerell’s documentary series given unprecedented access to parliament horrify or mollify voters?

Pulitzer Prize winner and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' author Harper Lee in 2007. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee to publish second novel
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 03 February 15:49

The sequel will be titled “Go Set a Watchman”.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in “The Hunger Games”.
Why I want more unlikeable female characters
By S L Huang - 03 February 12:11

When we don’t let women live the whole range of humanity – making mistakes, screwing things up, not being very nice – we miss out.

11 bit studio's survival game This War of Mine.
Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #4
By Critical Distance - 02 February 16:23

Do games romanticise disasters?

In the Frame: Alternative Debate Excuses for Cameron
By Tom Humberstone - 30 January 11:20

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Wickets. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Sports
New BBC cricket series Stumped fails to bowl over
By Antonia Quirke - 29 January 10:51

The half-hour World Service program is just not cricket.

Three's a crowd: My Night With Reg
How Kevin Elyot's Aids farce My Night With Reg became a play for today
By Mark Lawson - 29 January 10:25

Now showing at London's Apollo Theatre, the 1994 play shines even brighter in an age when its characters could marry.

Phoenix and Witherspoon star in the cartoon-like film.
From comedy to confusion, Inherent Vice shows the corruption of the hippie dream
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 January 10:22

Thomas Pynchon's novel makes for a wistfully funny film adaptation.

Churchill. Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images
An exercise in nostalgia – Jeremy Paxman’s Churchill: the Nation's Farewell
By Rachel Cooke - 29 January 10:14

Churchill: the Nation's Farewell and Modern Times: the Vikings Are Coming turn to life old and new.

Mexican soldiers guarding drugs. Photo: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
How to beat the dealer: two different approaches to the war on drugs
By Michael Hodges - 29 January 10:08

Johan Harri's Chasing the Scream refutes today's anti-narcotics policy, while Edward Follis and Douglas Century's The Dark Art takes us undercover in the global drugs change.

F cover.
Selfish giants: F is Daniel Kehmann's most technically accomplished novel yet
By Anthony Cummins - 29 January 9:35

The latest translation from the German author is an introspective, postmodern comedy.

Photo Op (2006) by Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps.
The return of big history: the long past is the antidote to short-termism
By David Reynolds - 29 January 9:29

Historians Jo Guldi and David Armitage have created a powerful, ambitious rebuttal to "the spectre of the short term".

Seven Rotations 1-6 (1979) by Dóra Maurer
Hip to be square: suprematism at the Whitechapel Gallery
By Michael Prodger - 29 January 8:57

Adventures of the Black Square at the Whitechapel Gallery is a fascinating examination of an artistic phenomenon.

Crow feathers.
Hide and Seek: New poetry by Rowan Williams, Liz Berry and Vona Groarke
By Paul Batchelor - 29 January 8:01

Three sophisticated collections explore the paradox of poetry.

EM Forster by Dora Carrington.
The producer vowing to film E M Forster’s “unfilmable” novel
By Philip Maughan - 28 January 13:45

After spending three weeks in hospital with a suspected heart condition, Adrian Munsey decided to tackle The Longest Journey — the last unfilmed Forster novel.

The use of anachronistic music, as in “Marie Antoinette”, is increasingly gaining acceptance.
Why do we care about anachronisms in films?
By Oliver Farry - 28 January 12:05

Our desire for historical accuracy in films, TV programmes and books often tells us more about ourselves than it does about art.

Sanitising the streets of smallpox, 1877. Photo: John Thomson/Getty Images
Sooty and sweep: how the Victorians cleaned up the country
By Rose George - 28 January 8:55

There is much we could learn from the Victorian fight against filth. A new book by Lee Jackson clears the path.