Books

‘An inconceivable operation of the gigantic forces of nature’: a total solar eclipse sweeps across Indonesia in March 2016

Unearthly darkness

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipsesby Norton, £20, pp. 336 On 28 May 1900…

A choice of first novels

22 April 2017 9:00 am

If you go down to the woods today… That is the starting point for Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, who grew…

The chick and the dead: Clare Holman plays the pathologist Dr Laura Hobson in Inspector Morse. Rex images.

Bring up the bodies

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I grew up with a skeleton in the attic. My mother’s clinical training bestowed on our family a short man’s…

Before the 17th century, all carrots were red, white and yellow. Orange ones were a new species. Image: Rex Images

A feast in every sense

22 April 2017 9:00 am

After reading Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, you might, as I did, sit for a bit wondering what a…

A passion for vinyl

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Every year at this time, as trees come into bud and flowers bloom, middle-aged men (and a few women) sleep…

Truth is stranger than satire

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I think we’re all agreed about Donald Trump — by which I mean all of us who read the literary…

Shame and scandal in the American west

22 April 2017 9:00 am

In the early 1920s, while the United States was entering its crazed phase of prohibition and prosperity, a group of…

Anything for a good story

22 April 2017 9:00 am

When I was at boarding school in the early 1970s, the Durrells, or at least Gerald, were immensely popular. My…

An English merchant bargains with an Indian in a 16th-century cotton tapestry

Golden opportunities

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Tudor merchants — shivering in furs in tiny creaking ships, sailing through the ice of unknown winter seas — knew…

A true original

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

Leonora Carrington was strikingly beautiful with ‘the personality of a headstrong and hypersensitive horse’ (according to her friend and patron…

Turner’s Stonehenge is strewn with the bodies of sheep and their shepherd, victims of an electrical storm

Romancing the stones

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

If Britain’s prehistoric monuments have had a magnetic attraction for generations of artists, it is perhaps because they have long…

Neither green nor pleasant

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

The old coaching inn on the green. The Sunday morning toll of church bells. The ducklings paddling on the pond.…

A gaping hole in the week

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

This is a gem of a book for Radio 4 lovers, particularly those of us who work out which day…

Bones of contention

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

A few years ago, a group of Native American leaders drove 12 hours from Oklahoma to Denver Museum of Nature…

An eye for sensationalism

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

According to Private Eye, executives at the Daily Mail were alarmed by the impending publication of Adrian Addison’s new history…

‘The Death of Lord Robert Manners’ by Thomas Stothard

Too young to die

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

In the north transept of Westminster Abbey, there is a memorial by Joseph Nollekens to three British captains killed at…

A computer illustration of people in cryogenic pods

No end in sight

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

Are you a deathist? A deathist is someone who accepts the fact of death, who thinks the ongoing massacre of…

Perilous times

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Helen Dunmore’s new novel concerns lives, consequential in their day, that pass away into utter oblivion. Appropriately, the ‘solitary and…

That’s entertainment

8 April 2017 9:00 am

The name Maud Russell creeps almost apologetically into a few 20th-century diaries such as those of her friend Violet Bonham…

Sign for a thermopolium (taverna) in Pompeii, depicting a phoenix, with the inscription ‘Phoenix Felix et Tu’ – ‘the Phoenix is happy (or lucky) – and you!’

Bird thou never wert

8 April 2017 9:00 am

The most appealing phoenix in literature is surely the eponymous bird from E. Nesbit’s 1904 classic, The Phoenix and the…

Ferdinand Mount at the 2010 Edinburgh International Book Festival

Understated eloquence

8 April 2017 9:00 am

It is 50 years since the publication of Very Like a Whale, Ferdinand Mount’s first novel. ‘Mr Mount’s distinguishing feature…

A unique literary phenomenon

8 April 2017 9:00 am

The Argentinian writer César Aira is a prodigy: at the age of 68 he has published, according to a ‘partial…

The lost Stradivarius

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Min Kym is a violinist, but if you Google her name you won’t find sound-clips or concert reviews, touring schedules…

Fresh-faced and knowing: Charlotte Rampling in the 1970s

An untouchable star

8 April 2017 9:00 am

This slight book comes with heavy baggage. In 2009, Rampling handed back a hefty advance for her contribution to a…

Fragments of the future

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Science fiction is not the first thing one thinks of in connection with the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, though the…