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  • the sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch
    on Feb 3, 2016
    Iris Murdoch’s the sea, the sea is not obviously a ghost story. There are no clichés like clattering chains or bangs in the night, nor even translucent eminences passing through walls. But when Charles Arrowby retires to live alone in a remote cot...
  • Adam Smith: An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations
    on Feb 2, 2016
    Proverbially, the horse’s mouth is always the best source. Academically, primary material is usually the most reliable. So now what is to be found by revisiting a major work of the past, a work whose current iconic status has provided a multiplicit...
  • Good Bones by Margaret Atwood
    on Feb 1, 2016
    It’s not often that a book review of any kind threatens to be longer than the original work. Any review of Margaret Atwood’s Good Bones, however, risks such ignominy. Good Bones, which might also have been successfully entitled Bare Bones, is not...
  • Machiavelli And Renaissance Italy by J. R. Hale
    on Feb 1, 2016
    J. R. Hale’s Machiavelli And Renaissance Italy was originally part of a Teach Yourself History series, published by Penguin Books in the 1960s. A twenty-first century reader will first of all be impressed by the book’s size, since it appears to b...
  • A Reflection On The Annals Of Imperial Rome by Publius Cornelius Tacitus
    on Jan 29, 2016
    History changes when it is re-read. The casual reader, as opposed to the historian, always reads history with one eye on the present: there is always comparison at work whenever we reflect on events we assume are faithfully recorded from the past. An...
  • A Few Chapters on The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen by Laurence Sterne
    on Jan 28, 2016
    Chapter One – The PlotWell, gentlefolk, at least that’s out of the way!Chapter Two – The CharactersYoung Tristram Shandy, so unfortunately misnamed, is so young he’s still in the womb. He doesn’t even condescend to appear until volume three...
  • A Pair Of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
    on Jan 28, 2016
    A Pair Of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy was first published in the eighteen seventies. It is a romance of the Romantic era. A cursory glance from today’s perspective might suggest that the book has little to say about our own time, and that its signifi...
  • Development As Freedom by Amartya Sen
    on Jan 26, 2016
    Perhaps not many people regularly read non-fiction, especially when it might appear to emanate from academic sources. Thus a title such as Development As Freedom by Amartya Sen, if encountered on a book browse, might suffer immediate and regrettable...
  • The Turn Of The Screw and The Aspern Papers by Henry James
    on Jan 16, 2016
    Henry James, great though his name remains, can be something of an acquired taste for some readers. Lest it be said, in terms a lay person unacquainted with this writer’s indeed impressive array of both products and talents, that this particular ar...
  • Lawrence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey
    on Jan 16, 2016
    Lawrence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey is very much the follow-up after the success of Tristram Shandy. The author does not try to re-create the near anarchy of the earlier work. Indeed, especially when compared with Shandy, Sentimental Journey at t...
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
    on Jan 15, 2016
    If Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell had been a piece of music, rather than a novel, it would probably have taken the form of a gigantic Bartok arch. Its apparently simple, but rather disconcertingly foreign-sounding start would develop into something th...
  • The Story Of An African Farm by Olive Schreiner
    on Jan 15, 2016
    Reading takes you there, sometimes even to places where you, the reader, may not want to go. Someone else, someone we have never met, did this, thought that, recorded it and related it. The reader, never unsuspecting, willingly takes the author’s h...
  • Joseph Hanlon, Mozambique: The Revolution Under Fire.
    on Jan 14, 2016
    Why might anyone want to read a book describing contemporary politics and international relations some thirty years after its publication? Surely a more recent history or overview would be preferable. Memoirs can always evoke recollections of the wri...
  • Stoner by John Williams
    on Feb 20, 2014
    To reveal that “he dies in the end” gives no more away about the plot of Stoner by John Williams than the revelation that “he’s born in the beginning”. Both phrases refer to Stoner, William Stoner, principal character of the book that’s n...
  • The Deposition of Father McGreevy by Brian O’Doherty
    on Feb 20, 2014
    In The Deposition of Father McGreevy Brian O’Doherty transports us into a world and culture that will be quite alien to most readers. By the book’s end, we may even be convinced that this might be a different universe.But Brian O’Doherty’s bo...
  • Woman Of The Inner Sea by Thomas Keneally
    on Jan 17, 2014
    Woman Of The Inner Sea by Thomas Keneally is a thoroughly satisfying novel. Via its pages, the reader shares its characters’ experience, inhabits their landscape and almost participates in the stories told. Late twentieth century Australia is where...
  • The Lost Girl by D H Lawrence
    on Jan 16, 2014
    In a very famous context, D. H. Lawrence is himself famous for using a word beginning with ‘f’, a word that is infamous rather than famous. Mentioning this word and then repeating it got the author into some serious trouble that was not resolved...
  • Free on Kindle - A Text-Book on the History of Painting by John Charles Van Dyke
    on Jan 15, 2014
    A Text-Book on the History of Painting by John Charles Van Dyke was published a century ago. Today it offers the modern reader not only potted, period critiques of important artists, but also a remarkable insight into how aesthetics change from gener...
  • A Change of Climate by Hilary Mantel
    on Jan 14, 2014
    In A Change Of Climate Hilary Mantel presents what is essentially a family saga, but in settings that add extra dimensions to the expected dilemmas. The family in question is the Eldreds. Ralph and Anna have shared an unusual if not an altogether unc...
  • The Dalkey Archive by Flann O’Brien
    on Jan 13, 2014
    Brian O’Nolan was an Irish civil servant who wrote fiction and journalism under pseudonyms. Flann O’Brien was the name O’Nolan used on his fiction and it is the name of the author of The Dalkey Archive, a metafictional novel that veers from the...
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