Books and Letters

A new biography of Nietzsche

Autobiography’ was what Nietzsche wrote ‘in order to see who he was’. On the evidence adduced here, what he was was a mummy’s boy. As late as her son’s undergraduate days, Franziska Nietzsche was still lecturing him on what coat…

Plots explained

‘Meanwhile, back at the ranch’ and other storytelling tricks explained in ‘Plots’…. Washington Post

Ted Hughes

Among those who knew Ted Hughes — friends, rivals, lovers, wives — it was universally agreed that, his other qualities notwithstanding, he was very, very good-looking. Six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and floppy-haired, his face lantern-jawed and slightly concave, he was…

Milan Kundera

His new novel, “The Festival of Insignificance,” divided into seven short ­sections, was, like his other recent work, first written in French. Well translated by Linda Asher, it suggests he has not quite finished with the Soviet era. Slight, almost…

Is satire dead?

There’s no shortage of big fat targets for satirists to take aim at, but most of them are protected by a praetorian guard of professional offence-takers, ready to take to the airwaves at the slightest sign of disrespect and demand…

Jacques Rancière

By most accounts, the life of the reader has become vita passiva. These days the reader is projected as a sufferer, of markets and technology, of the image and its future. At best willing only to consume, to rifle through…

Love

In 1967, the Beatles sang “All you need is love”. But does this still hold true? We rationalize and optimize every single aspect of our lives but leave the greatest irrationality in place: romantic love. We want to debate why…

Nietsche on Love

Willow Verkerk considers what Nietzsche has to teach us about love. What could Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) have to teach us about love? More than we might suppose. Speculations about his sexuality abound: did he really contract syphilis at a bordello,…

Montaigne and Shakespeare

The Inner Light What Shakespeare saw in Montaigne’s reflections Although he’s revered as a great classic writer, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) is an author we read because we want to, not because we have to. He’s intimate, erudite, chatty,…