The latest on books and the arts


A detail of Otto Dix's portrait of the psychiatrist Dr Heinrich Stadelmann (1922) Picture: Art Gallery of Ontario/Bridgeman Images
Walking wounded: our often barbaric struggle to cure mental illness
By John Gray - 16 April 16:35

Insanity was "a disease of civilisation".

David Bowie in 1973. Photo: Michael Ochs/Gettuy
From the archive: Martin Amis on the "mild fad" of David Bowie
By Martin Amis - 16 April 14:37

The feelings David Bowie aroused will vanish along with the fashion built around him, argued Martin Amis in 1973.

Larkin outside the University of Hull in 1979. Photo: Jane Bown/Topfoto
From the archive: Philip Larkin on the voices of poets
By Philip Larkin - 16 April 14:03

All my antiquarian rage boils at the thought that nobody thought to record Hardy.

A technician works on the main transmission mast of the BBC Broadcasting House in Langham Place, April 1931. Photo: Hulton/Imagno/Getty
From the archive: E M Forster defends the freedom of the BBC
By E M Forster - 16 April 13:34

The world is large and the opinions in it conflicting.

American B52s bomb Vietnam. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
I was the morning DJ: the original Good Morning Vietnam shows a Hollywood History
By Antonia Quirke - 16 April 10:57

It came as no surprise to hear him confess, with a hint of suppressed but immense weariness, the extent to which Hollywood has used history as nothing but an enourmous prop room.

The atrium at the British Museum. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Neil MacGregor, Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Hytner: exeunt stage right
By Mark Lawson - 10 April 17:35

Three titans of British culture are stepping down this year. Mark Lawson looks at their legacy – and the space they’ll leave behind.

In the Frame: News Blocker
By Tom Humberstone - 10 April 11:14

Tom Humberstone’s weekly comic.

Kyle Chandler in Bloodline. Photo: Saeed Ayani/Netflix
Blame it on the binge: when you get to Bloodline, it may be time to take a Netflix break
By Rachel Cooke - 09 April 16:42

Netflix thinks of its audience in much the same way as small children think of ducks: keep the bread coming and fast, or they'll soon waddle away.

Girls keep it together in front of their rock’n’roll idols. It’s men who turn into gibbering wrecks
By Suzanne Moore - 09 April 15:38

Middle aged men are complete emotional wrecks verging on hysteria a lot of the time.

The Culture Debate in progress. Photo: @BBCArts
Four things we learned from the culture debate
By Caroline Crampton - 08 April 21:34

Everyone agrees about everything. Almost.

Matt Smith as Bully in Lost River.
Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, proves he isn't perfect after all
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 April 17:04

This film isn’t bad. Worse: it’s mediocre.

As a 12 year old, Twin Peaks was the most exciting thing I had ever seen.
What made Twin Peaks so special?
By Christian Donlan - 08 April 11:35

Nothing since has been able to measure up to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Nothing has had its power. Why not?

The big, bad apple: New York’s Queensboro Bridge, linking Manhattan and Queens. Photo: MOMENT
In Atticus Lish’s sweeping novel of 21st-century New York, even love seems pointless
By Olivia Laing - 08 April 10:10

Preperation for the Next Life is remarkably well-researched, but doesn't forget the profound intimacy of life on the margins.

Deep in the roar: Niagara Falls, from an 1860 painting by Frederic Church. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The lost landscape of America: chasing the vanishing sublime
By John Burnside - 08 April 9:10

While the landscapes of Thoreau and Watkins have been preserved by their art, John Burnside finds the wilderness that once covered America neutralised.

Soap opera yarn-spinner: Vargas Llosa. Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Mario Vargas Llosao confuses porny, blockbuster daydreams with intricacy
By Leo Robson - 08 April 9:10

Repeitition is the default mode in The Discreet Hero - an abberation in Llosa's career which confuses quantity with literary quality.

Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
"The Glen": a new poem by Kathleen Jamie
By Kathleen Jamie - 08 April 8:57

“It’s nothing to us”, you might shrug...

Billie Holiday and her dog Mister in 1947. Photo: William P Gottlieb Collection
The bottle, the blues and Billie Holiday
By Yo Zushi - 07 April 17:06

Lady Day, a century after her birth.

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #13
By Critical Distance - 07 April 12:07

The representation of autism in games.

Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd at the ENO. Photo: Tristran Kenton
Meat is murder: Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum
By Caroline Crampton - 02 April 16:24

A subversive semi-staging of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd brings the infamous barber back to London.

A girl wears a fine dress from an earlier era.
The Spitalfields Nippers show the East End before the welfare state
By The Gentle Author - 02 April 15:49

Horace Warner's photographs of the Spitalfields Nippers shows what happened to some of society's most vulnerable - and reminds us of the value we must place on their protection.

Song of songs: a 19th-century illustration of a nightingale from an engraving by Kronheim. Photo: Private Collection/Look and Learn/Bridgeman Images
Helen Macdonald: Our springs grow emptier as the birdsong falls silent
By Helen Macdonald - 02 April 15:22

Every year, the hedgerows are quieter. The author of H is for Hawk mourns the loss of the spring birds – and issues a warning for the future.

Painting the sky. Illustration: David de las Heras
Alan Garner: Revelations from a life of storytelling
By Alan Garner - 02 April 15:13

At the inaugural Garner Lecture, the writer and storyteller reflected on a lifetime in tales – and vowed to keep taking risks.

Presumed innocent: Carroll with the children of his friend the author George MacDonald, 1860s. Photo: Lewis Carroll/Getty Images
Lewis Carroll and his “child-friends”: revelations about Alice and her wonderland
By Lyndall Gordon - 02 April 14:52

New studies by Edward Wakeling and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst uncover the story of one of literature's most debated men.

Heroes of the Dardanelles: wounded Australian and British troops on their way to a hospital ship, August 1915
At the centenary of Gallipoli, Germaine Greer interrogates the myth of Australian nationhood
By Germaine Greer - 02 April 14:00

Was Australia born on the battlefield? 100 years after Gallipoli, the accepted narrative seems further than ever from reality.

Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #12
By Critical Distance - 02 April 9:52

History, politics and policing.

Films about queer women rarely stray from "lesbian drama" clichés – but things are improving
By Eleanor Margolis - 31 March 18:29

The vast majority of films about lesbians are underpinned by a uniquely cringemaking brand of earnestness; Appropriate Behaviour breaks the mould.

Trevor Noah, the South African comedian announced as the new host of the Daily Show. Photo: Justin Barlow/Gallo Images/Getty Images for MTV
Why outsiders like John Oliver and Trevor Noah are taking over American late night TV
By Esther Breger - 31 March 14:25

South African Trevor Noah, the newly-announced host of The Daily Show, joins Brits John Oliver and James Corden in the US’s coveted late-night slots.

“The sex industry is f***ing diabolical”: Artist Sam Roddick on the modern politics of sex
By Anoosh Chakelian - 30 March 16:59

The sex workers’ rights activist and artist calls on the government to protect the sex industry, as her new exhibition on objectification explores society's sexual failings.

The New Statesman Podcast | Episode Eighty-Four
By New Statesman - 30 March 12:48

John Gray on Ed Miliband.

Herdwick and Swaledale sheep roam the hills in spring. Photo: Ashley Cooper/Rex
James Rebanks: “Shepherding is beautiful and interesting. It’s a dignified and decent way to live”
By Caroline Crampton - 30 March 12:36

Caroline Crampton spends the day with James Rebanks, Twitter’s best-known shepherd and author of The Shepherds Life, and learns how he’s updating the centuries-old sheep-farming traditions of the Lake District for the modern day.