Properly Lawrentian

Seamus Perry

D.H. Lawrence is a ‘teller’ in the sense of telling you what to do – and, more particularly, what not to do: as Aldous Huxley observed, he could be ‘bloodthirstily censorious’. Lawrence had a philosophy, or as he self-deprecatingly put it, a ‘pseudo-philosophy’, coupled with a strong urge to dish out spiritual advice. ‘I want folk – English folk – to alter, and have more sense,’ as he said in a letter


Before Kabul

Thomas Meaney

The corruption of the Afghan government is dwarfed only by that of the American operation itself, which constituted a massive wealth transfer to US defence industries. Will the Taliban behave? They have entered a very different Kabul – one with beauty salons and shopping malls – from the one they left twenty years ago. In the interim, they have developed the ambition to run a state, which will require a basis of legitimacy outside their own constituency in the country, and international support of some kind. In the first days after they took Kabul, the Taliban made a show of paying respects to Shia Afghans on the holy day of Ashura, taking questions from female journalists at press conferences, relaying their offer of an amnesty to the opposition despite having apparently executed some Afghan soldiers earlier in August, and setting up checkpoints to counter spoiler attacks, which were not long in coming (IS and its local affiliate IS-K are major liabilities for the core of the Taliban leadership that wants to take the reins of what passes for the state). 


In Her Classroom

Marina Warner

In​ 1945, 21-year-old Beryl Answick graduated with a first class diploma from the teacher training college in Georgetown, capital of what was then British Guiana. Guyanese education at the time was rigid and the (tamarind) rod much in evidence: ‘Children … were expected to know certain facts, the relevance of which did not always matter,’ she remembered. Chafing at these...


Khrushchev’s Cuban Gambit

Andrew Cockburn

Kennedy was conscious that everyone in Washington, inside and outside his administration, had their own agendas, including officials he had personally selected. As US reconnaissance detected signs of the accelerating Soviet military build-up in Cuba, Kennedy ordered that the intelligence be ever more tightly restricted, blaming ‘those CIA bastards’ for leaks to his Republican enemies: ‘I’m going to get them if it’s the last thing I ever do.’


Prussian Disneyland

Jan-Werner Müller

The reconstructed palace, with Franco Stella’s razionalismo façade.

Thirty years ago​, the Bundestag voted to move from sleepy Bonn to newly unified Berlin. There was a lot of anxiety at the time that the change might signal the emergence of a more nationalist Germany, but even the most apprehensive couldn’t have imagined that the centre of the new-old capital, the...

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In the Coalfields

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite

Notall coal is the same. The lowest ranks – the closest to peat – are lignite and sub-bituminous coal, known in Britain as brown coal. These have been estimated to make up nearly a third of proved global reserves, but are not much exploited in areas where higher-grade coal is available, because they produce a lot of smoke and relatively little heat (they are also difficult to...


‘My Phantoms’

Nicole Flattery

To find​ Gwendoline Riley in her novels wouldn’t be hard, but it would be unrewarding. ‘People have the right to disappear if they want to,’ says Carmel, the narrator of her first. Cold Water, set in a Manchester dive bar, appeared in 2002 when Riley was 23. Since then she has published five more novels and a novella, but there have been no worthy, state-of-the-nation...


Watch the World Burn

Ben Jackson

Earlier​ this summer, pandemic restrictions in Canada began to loosen and my wife, Beth, and I decided to take a trip to British Columbia to visit family and friends we hadn’t seen in eighteen months. At the end of June a devastating heat dome – caused when high pressure clamps hot air over a region for days or weeks – struck western North America, overturning countless...

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