The Current Issue

December 2023, Issue 525

Will Wiles on modern architecture * Joanna Kavenna on J G Ballard * Rowan Williams on Czesław Miłosz * Pratinav Anil on India’s Maharajahs * Sarah Dunant on Renaissance art * Graham Daseler on war films * David Keenan on Lou Reed * Wesley Stace on George Harrison * Anne Perkins on Baroness Falkender * Norma Clarke on Pauline Boty * Wendy Moore on Eve and women’s bodies * Andrew Crumey on colonising Mars * Joseph Hone on the book forger T J Wise * Adam Douglas on Brideshead’s legacy * Jeremy Noel-Tod on poetic elegies *
 and much, much more…

Will Wiles

Humanise: A Maker’s Guide to Building Our World

By Thomas Heatherwick

In 1989, when Thomas Heatherwick was eighteen years old, he picked up a Taschen book about the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in a student book sale. Inside it, he saw a double-page spread showing Gaudí’s Casa Milà, an apartment building in central Barcelona. ‘I was stunned,’ he writes in the introduction to Humanise. ‘I had no idea that buildings like this existed. I had no idea that such buildings could exist.’ The picture had a transformative effect on the young Heatherwick, who was already eyeing a career... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Rowan Williams

On Czesław Miłosz: Visions from the Other Europe

By Eva Hoffman

In a late poem about a friend’s death, Czesław Miłosz writes of the long passage between youth and age as one of learning ‘how to bear what is borne by others’. It could be a summary of his own poetic witness. Eva Hoffman’s moving and eloquent essay traces the ways in which that simultaneously guilty, compassionate and fastidious response characterises Miłosz’s work from its earliest days. Bearing what is borne by others is, for Miłosz, close to the heart of the poetic task... read more

Pratinav Anil

Dethroned: The Downfall of India’s Princely States

By John Zubrzycki

'Unruly schoolboys,’ Lord Curzon called them, but then again, he had a penchant for understatement. John Zubrzycki’s new book on India’s last princely rulers is, in fact, Lord of the Flies meets The 120 Days of Sodom. Had Zubrzycki repurposed his material for a novel, he would no doubt have had some stern reviewer scribbling ‘too on the nose’ or ‘uninspired orientalist caricature’ in the margins. Yet the rulers of India’s 562 princely states were for... read more

Joanna Kavenna

Selected Nonfiction, 1962-2007

By J G Ballard (Edited by Mark Blacklock)

What the hell is reality and how do we distinguish it from fiction? Who decides? Furthermore, if those who decide the allocations of the real and unreal are cruel, mad or colossally wrong, what then? These are the sorts of questions to which J G Ballard returns again and again in his fiction and non-fiction. His writing career spanned more than five decades. His work ranged from short stories published in New Worlds and... read more

Wendy Moore

Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution

By Cat Bohannon

We are endlessly fascinated by nature documentaries revealing the remarkable behaviour of the animals that share our planet. And yet most of us know strikingly little about the evolution of our own species and, specifically, almost nothing about how men and women evolved differently. An evolutionary scientist and writer, Cat Bohannon has set out to put matters right with this punchy and utterly compelling book, which not... read more

Andrew Crumey

A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?

By Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

Do you fancy living in space? Some people are prepared to pay Virgin Galactic almost half a million dollars for five minutes of weightlessness, so demand is clearly there among the deep-pocketed. And for generations of science fiction fans, life off-planet has been a dream forever just around the corner. If Elon Musk is to be believed, by 2050 there will be a million people living on Mars... read more

Joseph Hone

TJ Wise and his forgeries

Certain names carry with them the whiff of brimstone. In the world of bibliophiles and booksellers, perhaps no name is more sulphurous than that of Thomas James Wise. Celebrated in his lifetime as the greatest collector in a generation, an accolade made even more impressive by his humble origins, Wise is today notorious as a forger of Victorian first editions. His signature method of reprinting minor works by major literary authors with imprints antedating the acknowledged first editions had, by the time... read more

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