From the archive

On Paul Muldoon

Clair Wills

PaulMuldoon enjoys leading his reader astray. On that the critics agree. I have been looking back at reviews of his work over the years. It is remarkable how often people quote from an early interview in which Muldoon describes his poems gently ‘leading people on’ and then leaving them ‘high and dry’ at some terrible party, while he has nipped out the bathroom...

Diary

Putting on Kafka’s Tux

Patricia Lockwood, Thomas Jones and Deborah Friedell, translated by Andrew O’Hagan, edited by Hugh Pennington

Kafka​ had consumption, which everyone else also had at that time: look at them up on the tops of mountains, men coughing spots in love with women coughing spots, so that you could draw lines between them until the whole world was filled in. It was a comfort to read him in a year when everyone again had the same disease. More specifically her, for in that moment she was everyone. She...

From the archive

Curry House Curry

Bee Wilson

‘Give me an English one!’ Matty Robinson said after tasting her first Indian curries in Bombay in 1858. She was 29, the eldest child of a Gloucestershire rector, and had gone to India as the wife of a British army officer, her cousin. As a third-generation Anglo-Indian, she was familiar with spicy food. Her problem was that the curries in India weren’t like the unsubtle...

From the archive

Financial Weaponry

Tom Stevenson

There is​ a striking asymmetry in the global economy. In terms of trade and GDP the world has three poles: the United States, the EU and China. But in the international financial system a single state has overwhelming power. The vast majority of transnational payments are routed through US banks. US treasury bonds are the de facto reserve asset around the world. The Fed is the global...

From the archive

On Olga Tokarczuk

Fredric Jameson

We have been approaching the figure of Jacob in a spirit of reverence, with hushed voices, as in church, as though he had a religious task or mission. What we have failed to understand is that the Messiah is come, not to fulfil the Law but to destroy it! Not to perfect it but rather to abolish it altogether. We have been trying to imagine the wrong kind of world: this is not the utopian world of Thomas More (or even that of Moliwda); it is the world of Sabbatai Sevi’s blasphemies and orgies, his vilification and repudiation of the Talmud, his public consumption of pork, his disregard – indeed, cancellation – of the most sacred Jewish holidays, his pronunciation out loud of the sacred name of God on all occasions. This​ is the very quintessence of transgression, the promotion of a Bataille-type mysticism to the very centre of social life, the injunction to destroy order itself, absolutely. The scandalous violence of this Messianism marks the end not only of the Law but of Judaism itself, and signals the return to the lost innocence of Eden and the time before the Law. 

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From the archive

Love, Home, Country?

Alexander Dziadosz

Six years ago​, when I was living in Beirut, I used to watch soap operas produced in Syria. They regularly took displacement and exile as their theme, which wasn’t surprising given that half the Syrian population have been forced to leave their homes in the last decade. I remember one show in which a Damascus housewife meets an expat on Facebook and dreams of joining him in Austria....

From the archive

The Sleeping Robespierre

Caroline Weber

According​ to the French revolutionary calendar, Year I began in September 1792 with the abolition of the Bourbon monarchy and the declaration of a republic. In the National Convention, the new legislative assembly in Paris, the Montagnard faction quickly achieved dominance after two early victories. First, in the winter of 1792-93, it secured the execution of the dethroned Louis XVI. Next,...

From the archive

Paper Cuts

Malin Hay

TheLRB is printed on a matte lightweight coated paper. The specifications are exact: it needs to be heavier than newsprint, resistant to heat and the effects of ageing, and good at reproducing colour. It is called ‘improved newsprint’: the paper quality is slightly higher and the ink doesn’t come off on the reader’s hands. Early on, the LRB did use newsprint; in...

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