Beauty in a Country Garden

Posted on by Marketing Manager

There can be no subscriber of the Literary Review who does not admire the editor for his perfect prose and wit. Those who have not had the pleasure of meeting him may not know that his personal charms surpass even his intellectual abilities. He is irresistible. So when he telephoned to ask for an urgent […]

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How to Tumble Your Drier

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

There is really no need for a layman like myself to remind you that some folk aren’t content with the Missionary Position. The curious researcher in the byways of human sexuality can easily discover perfectly reputable volumes of scholarship that furnish details of those who ‘love to devour the scabs taken off persons suffering from […]

We Have A Disposal Problem

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Joan Didion comes from California. Her best book was published in 1968. This is most of what you need to know. Here’s the rest of it. In that book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, she was, she said in her preface, dealing ‘directly and flatly with the evidence of atomisation, the proof that things fall apart’. If […]

Shades of Beak Street

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In Arabia Jonathan Raban suggested that if the Arabs were to acquire a genuine contemporary literature, it would be written by women ‘because women were the only people living under the kind of strain which produces serious poetry and fiction.’ Arab men, he said, had it too easy. He also predicted that when the lattice […]

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Boxcar Willie

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The old writer William Seward Hall lives in a boxcar by the river. Thirty years ago he wrote a book called The Boy Who Whittled Animals out of Wood, about a crippled boy who carved animals, and finally animated them by means of masturbatory rites, but since then nothing. Now he sits down to write […]

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Poet who Remains as Elusive as Ever

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Despite the fact that he wrote one of the best-loved poems in the English language, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard’, Thomas Gray himself has always been an enigma. His life was almost perversely lacking in excitement or interest. Born in 1716 in London of mercantile parents, he was educated at Eton and Cambridge, and […]

Little Man Lost in His Dark Grey Suit

Posted on by Tom Fleming

There is a sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1956) in which an absent-minded doctor walks through the countryside reading a book: so engrossed is he in the words on the page that he twice trips over Harry’s outstretched corpse without realising it. The first time, he does not notice the corpse at […]

She Taught Us that Bouillon Won’t Do

Posted on by Tom Fleming

So much has been written about Elizabeth David over the years that it is almost an impertinence even to dare to add one’s voice to the Rowley Leighs and Hugh Johnsons of this world, never mind to earlier generations of wine and food writers, going back to people like Cyril Ray. Ever since her lone […]

The Fight Is Not Over

Posted on by David Gelber

The last time I came down with malaria they dosed me with bitter white tablets the size of elephant tranquillisers. The drug turned my skin yellow. I developed severe tinnitus, so that for a fortnight I felt as if I’d just emerged from a heavy-metal concert. And I got so depressed all I wanted to […]

Psychological Effects of the Civil War

Posted on by David Gelber

The title of Louis Menand’s exhaustive book refers to a short-lived conversation society formed by a group of radical young intellectuals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872. Although there is no detailed record of their meetings, a sampling of its membership suggests that it was a singularly important convocation – the future Supreme Court justice Oliver […]

The Black Underwear was a Practical Choice

Posted on by David Gelber

‘We are all lonely wanderers in a very barren land,’ Ottoline Morrell wrote in her private journal in the autumn of 1919. She was feeling miserable after packing up the furniture of the ‘darling old house’ in Bedford Square, which was being put up for sale. Her comment derived, however, from a dinner she had […]

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