Amerikanist Dreams

Owen Hatherley

The Red Gate tower in Moscow, designed by 
Alexei Nikolayevich Dushkin and completed in 1953.

One of the more intriguing​ recent conspiracy theories centres on the putative suppression of a global ‘Tartarian Empire’, which, before it was destroyed either by the world wars or by a tidal wave of mud, went in for an opulent, gigantist architecture of domes and spires,...



Christian Lorentzen

Of all​ the novels responding to the Trump presidency, Richard Powers’s Bewilderment may come closest to pure propaganda. Set in a slightly worse and slightly more technologically advanced version of the present – popular adjustments in recent fiction – Bewilderment takes aim at the administration’s xenophobia and persecution of foreigners, its anti-science and...


Annie Ernaux’s Gaze

Joanna Biggs

Atthe end of the Catacombs, having walked among the bones of six million Parisians, you come to a single gravestone. Somewhere in the ossuary are the remains of Racine, Charlotte Corday, Robespierre and Montesquieu, yet the only monument is to Françoise Gillain, who, you discover, died in 1821 after spending years trying to free a writer unjustly held in the Bastille. Arriving at...


Aristophanes Remixed

Emily Wilson

Old Comedy anticipated modern sci-fi, and shows like The Good Place, in its willingness to carry out fantastical thought experiments (talking frogs, a city of birds, a singing chorus of metaphysically inclined clouds, or, weirdest of all, women with real political power), and considered their social and political repercussions. Like pantomime or Punch and Judy, it included formulaic riffs on falling over, violence and cross-dressing. But the lush comic hip-hop of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B is one of the most useful modern analogues, because it illustrates the core element of Old Comedy that is most often obscured in contemporary Anglophone translations – the flow. Aristophanes, like the creators of ‘WAP’, was a musician, songwriter, choreographer and poet, and his linguistic effects depend, like theirs, on the artful manipulation of rhythm and sound in words and imagery. 


A Decent Death

Stephen Sedley

Dismissing all compassionate assistance as killing seeks to pre-empt the very issue under debate. Nobody, by contrast, doubts the importance and worth of palliative care, or the entitlement of individuals to hold whatever belief they choose about suffering, even if it consigns them to a lingering death. What they do not have is a right to force it on others.

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In Lebanon

Stefan Tarnowski

InJune, there was a debate in our building about whether to rayyih al-moteur (‘rest the generator’) at night or during the day. We had electricity from the national grid for only one hour in 24. In July, the only way to cool down in the afternoon was to strip off and lie sweating on the apartment’s terrazzo floor. By August, diesel shortages meant that not even the rich...


The Young Milton

Maggie Kilgour

In​ their groundbreaking biography, published a decade ago, Thomas Corns and Gordon Campbell argued that the young John Milton was not, as he has often been portrayed, a born radical. Instead, they argued, before 1637 the young Milton was politically and religiously conservative, a member of the Church of England who supported the High Church reforms carried out by William Laud, the...


Sex with Satan

Deborah Friedell

Whatwould the young Jonathan Franzen – an acolyte of Gaddis and Pynchon who identified with Kafka – make of the novels he would go on to write? That man was determined that ‘Franzen’ should connote ‘high art’, his own portmanteau of ‘high modern’ and ‘art fiction’. For years he dedicated himself to the conspiratorial plot of the...

25-29 October

Conversations about power: who wields it, where it resides and why, with Mary Beard, Emma Cline, Adom Getachew, Mahmood Mamdani, Hilary Mantel, Adam Phillips, David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Michael Wolff.

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Encounters with Medieval Women

In a new podcast miniseries, Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley look at the lives and voices of women in medieval literature through four key texts, ranging roughly from the year 300 to 1500. The episodes will feature Mary of Egypt, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe and the Wife of Bath.

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