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Library News From Nowhere

Last October Theresa May announced to her party conference: “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.” So I am a citizen of Nowhere. Intellectually, culturally and as member of my species, I am and must be a citizen …

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Library The fundamental paradox: Michael Frayn and A.C. Grayling on philosophy and writing

FRAYN: I’m immensely honoured by this election. I’m very grateful to this society, and I’m particularly pleased to receive it from the hands of Michael Holroyd, who is a very old friend. I’m also pleased and touched to find that I am a Companion of Lit …

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Library A passage to Mexico

GEE: There’s never been a battle between the languages for you? DESAI: I’ve never thought of it as a battle, because I’ve used different languages for different things: Hindi and German for communication with family and friends, and English for writing …

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Library Words and deeds: Caroline Moorehead on her work with refugees in Cairo

In 1980, after I had been working for The Times for just over a year, I was asked to write a short column every Friday about a prisoner of conscience: a man, woman or even child in jail somewhere in the world of account of their politics, race or relig …

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Library After Agatha

JAMES: I suppose the question we get asked most often by other people is ‘Why crime?’, and in a way that ties up with when we began writing. Was your first book crime? You wrote some short stories before you were published, didn’t you? RENDELL: You rem …

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Library Vivat! Vivat Regina!

Margaret Drabble When the New Elizabethan Age dawned in 1953 a wave of optimism swept the land. The Festival of Britain had been brave and austerity-defying, but a young and beautiful queen with a handsome consort promised to bring yet more glamour and …

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Library Roll out the novel

The question was: ‘Why are there so few novels about the Second World War?  And why, given the scale and impact of the event, has it not produced a War and Peace?’  Why, in other words, is there no literary equivalence of the intensity and consequences …

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Library Amrou Al-Kadhi and Tom Rasmussen in conversation: ‘Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things’

Cecil Beaton’s early studio portraits of debutantes and celebrities helped define the image of the ‘Bright Young Thing’, with elaborate backdrops and dramatic costumery. But it was perhaps through his self-portraits that he most strikingly explored the …

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Library When the world is economic crisis, how are writers to respond?

‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’ It is a nice coincidence in Dickens’s bicentennial year that the …

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Library The Lingua Franca: Colin Thubron on translated literature

One of the most shocking statistics in British publishing concerns that difficult and risk-prone genre: the literary translation. The Book Trust puts the proportion of foreign books published in England at a wretched three per cent of the total publish …

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