Saturday 1 February 2003

The Light of Day - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Graham Swift

Way back in the olden days when most of the working class visited the cinema at least once a week (long before the continual entertainment of television), buckets of tears were shed over a particular type of film. A prime example was Brief Encounter, a tale of the meeting and falling in love of a married man and a married woman over the table of a railway station platform café. It came to an end, as such things will, by him waving as her train left the station, never to see each other again.


How the women wept. (In those days men didn’t weep - there was too much for them to weep about.) It was a story straight out of the women’s weekly magazines - Woman’s Own, People’s Friend, Peg’s Weekly - and this is the kind of story that Swift tells in The Light of Day. These stories were all about doctors or teachers or small business people. The working class was either ignored or caricatured, and didn’t feature in popular books or films until years later in such as Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. As such, the stories provided an escape from the drabness and reality of the real world as the readers or watchers wallowed in a romantic dream world. Alas the films ended and the stories ended and we were cast out into the light of day.

In The Light of Day, Swift attempts to take us back into those days, except that he joins the current trend of jumping backwards and forwards in the story. The hero, George, is an ex-policeman sacked for trying to strangle a suspect during questioning, and now working as a private eye. He sleeps with his office manager/secretary who obviously worships him. He is employed to follow a woman client’s husband and his lover to the airport where the lover is to be put on a plane; the man is then to be shadowed back to the marital home. His client then stabs her unfaithful husband to death with the knife she had been chopping parsley with. (He probably was telling her how to chop it, which would have made it justifiable homicide.)

The story then moves off into this dream world of backwards and forwards. Although George’s secretary/lover gives him the best advice - ‘Grow up George, get bloody real.’ - he is now in the ideal relationship (for him), one of visiting the client Sarah (now serving a twelve year sentence) once a week, and dreaming like Mr Toad of Toad Hall, about, what I could have done if only I had thought of it at the time.

Grow up Graham Swift, get bloody real.


Fiction

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Turn Again Home - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Carol Birch

In this novel, Ms Birch tells the story of a Northern working class family, a tale that stretches from just after the First World War onwards over three generations. In choosing this theme, she immediately sets herself a problem and raises a question in her reader’s mind. How will she say something that sets itself apart from the works of Catherine Cookson and all the other gritty generational saga novels that can be found tightly-packed on the fiction returns trolley of any public library?


The answer is, not as clearly as she might have done. Withink the stream of events in the family’s history there are memories and episodes that give tantalising suggestions of impending insight: British soldiers on the Western front let a young, scared German prisoner rejoin his comrades; a father implores his son to avoid serving in the forthcoming Second World War; soldiers in Malaya deal roughly with civilian looters, but are ashamed when they accidentally kill the cat they’ve been playing with. Without turning the novel into a series of lectures or sermons, such material could have been worked up into searching - possibly disturbing - reflections on relationships, politics and human nature. Instead we simply get a breathless succession of episodic twists and turns of family fortune.

What else do we get? Name-checks abound to help fix the story within history’s time frame: a Mosley march in Manchester, the music press changing its subject from jazz to pop, The Army Game and Hancock’s Half Hour on the telly, the Beatles making it big. They show that the writer has done her (pretty elementary) homework, and are a gesture towards giving the novel its necessary period flavours, but then we’re used to this from television dramas. We expect almost as a right that, say, a Victorian street scene includes the obligatory Hansom cab, or that anything to do with the 1950s features teddy boys strutting their winkle-pickers as they rock around the clock to Bill Haley. It’s a permissible device, but a limited, familiar one.

It’s difficult not to feel that Ms Birch - or her editors - followed a safety first policy here (best not to give the readers who expect a cosy ‘Eeh bah goom lass’ period piece anything too taxing). But ideas are waiting to be explored in this book, and the writing has moments when it grabs you by the shoulder - an atmospheric depiction of a military patrol in the jungle during the Malaya Emergency makes you feel sticky with heat, alert to every sound, or too-quiet moment of silence, that might be the last thing you hear. Had Ms Birch really let rip, this book could not just have been a satisfying narrative, but a story that helped give new depths to the saga genre.


 


Fiction

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Wednesday 1 January 2003

‘Aztecs’ and ‘Jake and Dinos Chapman’

Aztecs - The Royal Academy, London and Jake and Dinos Chapman:Works from the Chapman Family Collection - White Cube Gallery, London

There have been rave reviews for the Aztecs show at the Royal Academy, but this art was produced by one of the most bloodthirsty ‘civilisations’ that has ever existed.

Included in the show are sacrificial knives and a pot used for storing flayed human skins. Other exhibits are frightful idols before which fiendish rites were committed on the top of pyramidal temples. One Aztec sculpture is dressed in a wooden cloak - but this turns out to be a substitute for the human skin which draped it in real life. We may have been shocked by Dr Gunter van Hagens recently-televised autopsy on Channel 4, but that was performed on a dead man for the scientific purpose of establishing cause of death. The Aztec artefacts were used on living, screaming people for obscurantist religious reasons - reasons that might be described today as ‘cultural’. Indeed, bejewelled as they are with jade and gold, they all look exceedingly beautiful. For that reason alone, it is worth forking out the £10 entrance fee.

Nowadays we tend to judge civilisations by the diversity of their cultural legacy. Given the reasons Aztec art was produced, perhaps we should adopt other criteria. Their diverse culture happens to have been a gory amalgam of other people’s art and other people’s hearts. Believing that they had to sacrifice human blood to persuade the Sun to rise each morning, Aztec monarchs like Montezuma conducted wars to gather prisoners for sacrifice.

Today’s dominant multicultural ideology in the West tends to turn a blind eye to the dubious ethics of ancient civilisations - especially when they were subsequently conquered by a European power, as the Aztecs were by the Spaniard Hernando Cortez in 1521. The reason Cortez and his 600 warriors found it relatively easy to invade Mexico was that, apart from neighbouring tribes welcoming Cortez as a saviour, the temple priesthood had begun to sacrifice Aztec children too.

Maybe it would be more consistent of those of us who despise the equally sanguinary record of Western imperialism if, when confronted by the brilliance of the Aztec culture, we were to contemplate changing our definition of civilisation altogether. Hopefully the Aztecs exhibition will lead us to question prevalent childish notions of civilisation. Is it really acceptable to believe that materialism is wicked while the road to civilisation lies through cultural accomplishment alone?

Western romantics see modernity as the root of all evil, and patronise primitive communities as sweetness and light. Yet most human societies have had a blood-soaked past, even the nomadic aborigines and bushmen. The more civilised Aztec empire and the subsequent Spanish Inquisition may have produced buckets of blood and epidemics of disease, but both also created wonderful art. Material progress since then has brought a better life for all. One reason for this has been the enlightened disconnection of irrational religion, culture and art from any responsibility for running modern society. Perhaps that is a new yardstick by which we can measure civilisation.

Multiculturalists tend to disregard the atrocities committed by non-European regimes in the name of culture because they hope to thrust art into the political prominence it formerly enjoyed in the days of the Renaissance and before. Another sanctimonious example of politicised art has been going on at Hoxton’s White Cube Gallery, where Jake and Dinos Chapman have erected numerous tribal idols, which they have adorned with the celebrated iconography of the McDonalds burger company. If the Aztec artefacts at the Royal Academy fill us with chilly admiration, we can also see tribal imagery on display at the other end of London, this time paraded with detached irony.

In this work, the Chapman brothers criticise the hypnotic appeal generated by the famous brands owned by global corporations. These icons allegedly compel us to buy merchandise as if we were Aztec subjects charmed into submission by a tribal fetish. To counter this insidious influence, the savage logos of the Chapmans coolly savage mass consumption. But this is precisely what many adverts do already. The trickster Chapmans are trying to convert us to their sustainability agenda by using the same techniques fat cats like advertising mogul Charles Saatchi have been using for years. How long will it be before the Chapmans’ ethnic artefacts appear in a new Ronald McDonald advert?




Aztecs is at the Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London till 11 April 2003
Jake and Dinos Chapman: Works from the Chapman Family Collection is at the White Cube Gallery, Hoxton Square, London till 7 December 2002



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Sunday 1 December 2002

The Femme Fatale - A Beginner’s Guide

The Rosemary Branch Theatre, London

Chanteuse Sandra Lawrence’s new solo show offers a humorous yet affectionate tribute to the figure of the femme fatale in classic films noirs.
Lawrence can certainly dress the part of the dangerously attractive spider woman featured in the hardboiled crime thrillers of the 1940s and 50s: she appears on stage in a series of sumptuous velvet gowns and elbow-length evening gloves, her long red hair coiffed to make her resemble nothing less than a latter-day Rita Hayworth. Lawrence also displays an encyclopaedic knowledge of the films, as she highlights the clichés of the genre - from her breakdown of bad-girl archetypes (who, we are usefully reminded, almost always die!) to her demonstration of the correct way to die in movies (if you are a woman, it should always be bloodless but melodramatic).

But, as this is England in 2002, and not the United States in the 1940s, we are always aware of irony involved in being a contemporary femme fatale. For beneath the meticulously recreated screen siren persona there is the secret of the rather more mundane life of a girl from Romford, Essex with a shameful penchant for baking.

In her performance of ‘Put the Blame on Mame’ (a number immortalised by Hayworth in Gilda), she wears yellow rubber washing-up gloves instead of long black satin gloves, which she sexily strips off at the climactic point of the song. She later appears wearing a gingham housecoat over her gown, singing love songs to a suggestively scarlet food-mixer. Although the domestic housewife seems to represent the very antithesis of the strong and independent femme fatale, Lawrence wants to be both The Girl Next Door and Screen Siren, Betty Crocker and Lauren Bacall, homemaker and ball breaker. She wants to ‘have her American apple pie and eat it’.

Despite or maybe because of its more-than-slightly camp nature, ‘The Femme Fatale’ works because of Lawrence’s talent and evident affection for the subject matter. She performs songs from classic and not-so-classic films (everything from the torch song ‘I’d Rather Have the Blues’ from Kiss Me Deadly to the seductive ‘Why Doncha Do Right?’ from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) with wit and panache, her voice in fine form throughout. This show will be a treat for cabaret fans, but will also be savoured by film enthusiasts, who will leave wanting to watch their video collections of old film noir movies over again. Unfortunately, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore, even if we do still have Domestic Goddesses like Nigella Lawson to teach us how to bake.


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Barb Jungr

The Flea Theatre, New York

European cabaret is so different from the Broadway-style American cabaret that I cannot help but curse the English language for its paucity - we have umpteen ways of saying how we like to take our tea, but can’t be bothered to make up two extra words to describe polarities in entertainment.

Barb Jungr has long been a force to be reckoned with in Britain. An unashamed, unreconstituted, unrepentant radical, her fiery interpretations of chanson and cabaret have been delighting the strong-stomached for years. A woman with no time for empty platitudes, Jungr’s work deals with real life and real pain. Her style is fiercely beautiful.

Her first Linn album ‘The Space in Between’ looked unerringly east - at continental Europe - for inspiration. Artists such as Piaf and Brel have an honesty in their writing - and performance - with which Jungr can identify. Going to the effort of having their material re-translated, and, indeed writing her own material, is testament to this. It’s hard work, that album. It demands a listening, refuses to be background, but rewards, in spades, the listener prepared to put the kind of effort into appreciating it that Jungr poured into its creation.

Her second Linn offering, then, is a bit of a surprise. Bob Dylan? Are you sure?

It soon becomes clear, listening to ‘Every Grain of Sand’ that Jungr is prepared to find the kind of passion she so admires in chanson in any song or writer who proves themselves worthy of the title ‘artist’. Bob Dylan, she proves, has the kind of honesty and clarity that one would expect from a Brassens or a Weil. He just uses a different medium. Thankfully choosing to ignore the ‘Mr Tambourine Man’-style oeuvre, each number she selects makes you think ‘Oh - but of course - now you mention it, it’s obvious…’ Jungr has recorded these songs in her own unique style - never once resorting to mere cover versions, and in so doing, has neither eclipsed the original nor denigrated her own version - rather used each rendition as an ornamentation of the other. You can’t just own the Dylan recording or the Jungr version - you need both.

Of course, this could all go horribly wrong when trying to translate the concept as a live show across The Pond. There are those who would consider any deviation from the hallowed original to be sacrilege, especially by someone Not American. And we’ve already noted that America has a totally different concept of cabaret. Classic US-style cabaret is Showbiz with a capital S. Not that there’s anything wrong with that - glamour&glitz is one of my favourite words in our impoverished language, and the true cabaret greats can cut glamour&glitz better in New York than anywhere.

But they’re not always known for their tolerance of other styles. Fifty years ago, when the great Edith Piaf first brought her uncompromising blend of Gaulouises-drenched Parisian street doggerel and heady emotion-soaked passion, frankly the chic New York cognoscenti found it all a bit rich for their blood. It was only a column by an influential trend-maker that turned her into a star.

They like her now, Piaf. But on the whole, judging by the amount of classic American cabaret still on and off-Broadway, they still prefer home-grown glamour&glitz.

I was fascinated to see how Barb Jungr would go down in New York City - especially a Post 9/11 New York City. She was to be playing songs from both her albums, none of which are what one would call ‘easy’ songs. Would the emotion prove too much - embarrassing, even - for a New York crowd?

The Flea Theatre is a charming Off-Off-Broadway venue in Greenwich Village, a long, wide room, which at first didn’t appear to be an ideal shape for cabaret. The grand piano, set centrally, seemed almost swamped by the shape of the stage area, and Jungr’s lonesome stool looked uncomfortably vulnerable.

But this is the atmosphere where Barb Jungr works best. Cosy would too easy for her. She wants - needs - that edgy atmosphere to show her work at its best. And after a while, the chic brown velvet walls and sleek wood flooring began to work - and it became obvious why she had gone for such a venue. Top New York accompanist Charlie Giordano was an inspired choice to sit at that grand piano - the two gave the distinct impression that they had worked together for years - the signs of true professionalism - and there was a palpable mutual respect. The careful lighting both enveloped and highlighted her so that when occasionally she stepped out of the light, it became a moment of drama. And she did make the odd glitz&glamour concession - she looked stunning for starters - her spiky hair as sophisticated as those cheeky red stilettos peeping from the hem of her designer gown; her slash of red lipstick reminiscent of the trademark Piaf who so shocked the New York socialites all those years ago.

When one watches a Barb Jungr performance, one may not feel comfortable with all her material - she’d hate that - but one always feels totally convinced that she is in control. She strides on, commanding attention, and for the show’s hour or so’s duration, that attention never wanders. Her material is rock solid - every word considered - and with not an ounce of fat. Barb Jungr doesn’t believe in fillers.

Songs such as ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ and ‘Not Dark Yet’ are disturbingly appropriate in such a setting. They’re grown-up songs. They sit well - both with the set - which also included Brel material such as ‘La Chanson des Vieux Amants’ and Piaf - ‘No Regrets’ - and with an American background. Jungr sang them beautifully - there was never any doubt that that would be true - but the command she lent them was majestic. After one or two of the numbers I felt a slight second of unease - perhaps she had touched a nerve here and there - but the applause following that moment proved that the experience had been worth the emotional effort. You don’t get bored in a Barb Jungr show. And the audience appreciated the gravitas. She confided, she related, she emoted, she even giggled, but by that last song, ‘Forever Young’, she had us convinced she was singing for each of us individually.

There is no way she won’t be going back. Soon.


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Wozzeck

Royal Opera House, London

‘Man is an abyss’ - Keith Warner seems to have taken this as the defining phrase for his production of Berg’s dark opera about the hapless Wozzeck, victim turned murderer.

Soldier Wozzeck makes extra money on the side both by acting as personal servant to the Captain - who thus feels free to comment on the immorality of Wozzeck’s personal life - and by subjecting himself to the Doctor’s scientific experiments. This money goes to support his lover Marie and their illegitimate son. Taunted by Doctor and Captain with Marie’s infidelity - the Drum-Major is graphically shown taking possession of Marie while the child watches - Wozzeck eventually loses control and, in his madness, kills her.

In this production, though, the white tiled set and the singers’ performances tell us that we are all already mad - the whole world of the opera is an asylum, except for the dark corner of Marie’s room. Once that is absorbed into the glaring sterility of the Doctor’s laboratory with its glass tanks (one of which appears to contain the whole town in which the action takes place), there is no refuge for Wozzeck or for Marie.

So bleak is the director’s image of life as one big institution, with ourselves as lunatics or lab rats, that empathy with the characters comes slowly. Berg’s music and the expressive performances of the cast, however, unfold a landscape of human tragedy that draws the audience in. The singing of the child, left alone with his mother’s bed at the end, as yet not knowing that both his parents are dead, is heart-rending.


The Royal Opera House, London
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MusicOpera

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The Turner Prize Show

Tate Britain, London

Am I the only person to suspect that culture minister Kim Howells’ Stuckist-style intervention into the Turner Prize this year was another case of government spin?

He made his notorious comments on one of the comment forms provided by the Tate at the end of a private view (‘If this is the best that British artists can produce then British art is lost. It is cold, calculated, conceptual bullshit’).

Why do I suspect that this bluster is a set up? Earlier in October industry minister Patricia Hewett objected to a poster promoting this year’s motor show supposedly because it featured a glamour model. Then we find out from Have I Got News For You? that Ms Hewett actually found the poster pretty innocuous, but made the comment about the poster girl anyway just to get publicity for her pet project of getting more women into engineering. Mr Howells’ motives are similarly suspect too. His Department for Culture, Media and Sport has bought plenty of art works by Turner Prize winners in the past. He even has a work by one of them on the wall of his office (Richard Long, the 1989 winner). Furthermore, since 1997, the department has purchased seven works by one of this year’s contenders: Catherine Yass.

There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this furore in my opinion: Howells’ intervention was more designed to publicise the event than to share with us his opinions on the current state of British art. In that light, we should view Mr Howells’ involvement as a piece of performance art, and very much part and parcel of the annual razzamatazz that is the Turner Prize.

As most of the artists and critics who subsequently rushed to defend their Turner Prize (this year’s winner is to be announced on Channel 4 on Sunday 8 December) made clear, the prize is not about representing all British art, but is about cutting edge art. From traditional Sunday painters to the radical Stuckist group, some people have never got this point. Not all art is about painting pretty pictures (or expressionist ones, in the case of the Stuckists). But the Tate and Channel 4 and the whole cultural industry needs these opponents more than they themselves know. For, if there is no such opposition to the Turner Prize, then how can it present itself as exciting and cutting edge and avant-garde and creative? If everyone simply shrugs their shoulders when the list of Turner Prize contenders is released, then its sponsors begin to look like what they really are: the existing arts establishment and the British culture industry. The Turner Prize is their international shop window for their products.

Yet it is social death for these old crusties to appear as they really are. In truth, it is difficult to be any more conventional than to be recognised and accepted by the Tate and Channel 4 and the Department of Culture, the Media and Sport. What to do? Better invent an opposition who can rail and rant and form pickets outside the Tate on prize winner’s night. There’s nothing like running a gauntlet of protesters for the great and the good to feel that somehow they are still a bit radical, a trifle subversive. From the KLF burning their money to Madonna swearing like a trooper, there’s always somebody who can generate some headlines for the prize every year. We can only be sure of one thing. Like a spoilt child throwing a tantrum, the one thing the art cognoscenti doesn’t like is public indifference (see their petulance at the lack of a British artist being nominated as the Greatest Briton).

How about this year’s art? Patrick Hughes is so right about one of the contenders. That old-time Pop Artist has bluntly declared that ‘A world that needs Liam Gillick is a sad world’. For me, the same goes for Catherine Yass and Fiona Banner (though I expect Banner to win). From reviewing the comment cards at the Tate, the people’s choice is cartoonist Keith Tyson. This is mainly, I suspect, because he has done so much more work compared to his rather minimalistic rivals. The message of their ‘transgressive’ and ‘challenging’ art is all much the same as each other. Banner’s uses words to negate the ‘power’ of pornographic imagery; Gillick investigates how urban planning has been compromised by market speculation; Yass aims to capture the alienating void at the heart of modernity; and Tyson playfully aims to relativise scientific dogma. Tyson is the most interesting of this sour lot because he is the most visual, and therefore deserves to win.

If the prize organisers had any confidence in their choices, they wouldn’t have to rely on ridiculous stunts to whip up headlines for it. The art would speak for itself. But there’s too much riding on the occasion to let that happen. I wonder what next year’s stunt will be, and whether it will be more interesting than the art.


Tate Britain, Millbank, London till 5 January 2003

 


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Interview: Simon Critchley

Philosopher and author of On Humour

SD: You end On Humour with a definition of the risus purus, the highest laugh. I will read that definition back to you:

For me, it is this smile - deriding the having and the not having, the pleasure and the pain, the sublimity and suffering of the human situation - that is the essence of humour. This is the risus purus, the highest laugh, the laugh that laughs at the laugh, that laughs at that which is unhappy, the mirthless laugh of the epigraph to this book. Yet, this smile does not bring unhappiness, but rather elevation and liberation, the lucidity of consolation. This is why, melancholy animals that we are, human beings are also the most cheerful. We smile and find ourselves ridiculous. Our wretchedness is our greatness.

Although I sympathise with your celebration of humanity’s ability to overcome the worst, through laughter, this wormhole of escapism, I am deeply suspicious of any theory that concludes ‘our wretchedness is our greatness’. Can you really defend this statement?

SC: It’s a quotation from Pascal. I’ve always been very keen on Pascal, and what I’m most keen on in Pascal is his emphasis upon human wretchedness. He has a phrase which goes something like ‘Anxiety, boredom and inconstancy, that is the human condition’ and I’ve always been very partial to that. But obviously for Pascal the flip side of that is religious experience, that experience of God that would transform or redeem your wretchedness. I’ve long wanted to have an occasion to include it in something I wrote and that’s why it’s there.

I do mean it, it’s very important to me in so far as I think, and this is one of the arguments of the book, that there is a black sun at the heart of the coloured universe, there is something melancholic at the heart of humour and in the last chapter I try and trace that out using Freud. I try and show how the structure of melancholia and the structure of humour are the same structure. Melancholia for Freud is the relationship that the subject takes up with respect to itself from the position of what he calls conscience or what he later calls the super-ego. And that can be lacerated - if you think of the anorexic who sees themselves from the perspective of the image they have, of the image they have of themselves in the mirror which is false - that would be the super-ego. Super-ego is what generates depression and it is what has to be dealt with in psychoanalysis.

The thing about humour is that the super-ego is also at play, so what interested me, particularly in the last chapter which is key to the book -and no one seems to have picked this up in writings on Freud - is that, in the later Freud, the essence of humour is the ability to look at myself and find myself ridiculous. That makes me laugh. So the pathology of humour is the same pathology as that of melancholia or depression The difference with humour is that humour can alleviate that, can transform that experience of wretchedness into something elevating, and liberating, in Freud’s words. I don’t want people to dwell in their wretchedness, I want people to find themselves ridiculous, and in so far as they can find themselves ridiculous they can rise above that wretchedness.

SD: What you are saying then, is that the final quotation, your thesis on humour, is not so much descriptive as prescriptive?

SC: Both. It’s a very difficult line to tread. I begin the book by trying to describe the phenomena of humour and the phenomena of laughter. And then I say I am going to make normative claims. It is normal to say about humour that it is good to laugh at yourself and not good to laugh at others - that is the ethical headline of the book. It is descriptive therefore, in that I am feeding of what happens in humour and trying to offer a certain idea of how humour ought to be, what the best sorts of humour are capable of.

SD: Freud and Pascal are not the only figures in the last chapter. Samuel Beckett features a lot. Why so many helpers? Is it because humour is like that, it’s a communal thing?

SC: Absolutely - everybody’s an expert and everybody’s got a gag. I was giving a talk in Bath at a conference on animals - there was no reason why I should have been there - but I was giving a plenary on humour and animals. Afterwards I got twenty-five references that I might follow on the basis of that talk - and they were good things. Why the book is so eclectic is that I was being taken off in different directions by people responding to it, but they’re responding to it because they feel they have something to say, that they know about humour, they know what it means.

That’s the place where I begin: everybody’s an expert when it comes to humour. What humour feeds off is a tacit knowledge, an implicit knowledge of the social world that we have.

The quote you read at the beginning of this interview, the laugh that laughs at the laugh, that laughs at that which is unhappy, is from Beckett’s Watt. In many ways this book comes out of earlier work on Beckett.

SD: Just to back track a little bit, when you mentioned Pascal, you talked about the flip side of wretchedness as being religious experience. That’s fine if you have a God or a religion. Are you suggesting that in a secular age, humour is the new God?

SC: This is an important question and it strikes me that there are about twenty things to say. First, there is no God. I begin from the assumption that modernity is defined by the impossibility of any metaphysical belief in a deity. That’s where I begin from and that is axiomatic for me. It means that if I had a religious experience I would stop doing philosophy: philosophy for me is essentially atheistic.

Now that’s an anxious atheism. It’s an atheism that is anxious because it inhabits questions that were resolved religiously in the pre-modern period. So the difficulty of modern life, of modernity in the full sense is this: the way in which we make sense of ourselves, those things we value and attribute meaning to, is still within a religious framework. Yet we cannot believe that religious framework. So from my perspective, modernity as a fully secular worldview has never really been achieved. We still inhabit the traces, the memory of, that religious perspective. And that’s an ambiguous thing.

On the one hand it’s a good thing: there’s a story I use about Foucault in something I’ve just been writing on Racine and Christian subjectivity in drama. Foucault makes this comment in 1980 in a seminar at NYU where he asks ‘How would we differentiate the pagan from the Christian?’ The he says it would be in terms of the following two questions: the pagan of late antiquity asks himself the question ‘Given that I am who I am, who can I fuck? Boys. girls, animals, whatever?’ The Christian asks himself the question ‘Given that I can fuck no one, who am I?’ And we’re still very much within a Christian framework: what Christianity in the West, and perhaps Islam does that elsewhere, and Judaism cuts across both in interesting ways, but Christianity in the West, opens up a perspective of depth into what it means to be a self. And that depth of the self is something that is experienced in the sight of God. So that the great thinkers of self and subjectivity are Paul and Augustine. They look at the self from the perspective of God and they find themselves wretched and interesting. Constituted by conflictual desires.

The difficulty we have is that we have that wretchedness of conflictual desire without reference to God. So humour is one way of thinking that complexity through. But there are other ways as well. I take it that why psychoanalysis is interesting is that psychoanalysis is a way of attending to the deep complexity of what it means to be the self.

SD: What about other strategies? Is humour a strategy that cuts across other ways of dealing with what it is to be human? For example you can have psychological humour but you can also have political humour.

SC: Again, it’s fairly difficult because a question that is often raised about humour and it’s been raised to me about what I’ve done with the topic, is humour fundamentally reactionary or can it be revolutionary. And I think the best answer is that it can be both. What’s interesting about that is that jokes that are reactionary and jokes that are revolutionary have the same structure. So for example, the joke that I tell in the book is the radical feminist joke that goes. “How many men does it take to tile a bathroom? I don’t know it depends how thinly you slice them.” Which could be seen, if you wanted to, as a progressive joke, arguing for women’s emancipation from the bondage of DIY or whatever. But it has the same structure as a racist joke or a Daily Mail reader joke, if you change the target, or you switched it round and it becomes a mother-in-law joke. So jokes have a very common structure and there’s nothing about the structure of humour that can determine its political uses.

SD: What about political correctness? Would you ban Bernard Manning for example?

SC: Are there things you shouldn’t laugh at? On the one hand I’d say no, there’s nothing you shouldn’t laugh at, and I can imagine making a strong anti-censorship argument, that we should have racist and sexist jokes because they are part of the lived experience of humour and to ignore them is just to repress them and to ignore a deep truth about ourselves. On the other hand that could be seen as a licence to permit racial and sexual hatred, or hatred of immigrants and asylum seekers. I was debating with Will Self at the British Library about three years ago. He was talking about satire and he’s a very interesting man when he’s pushed. Someone asked him the question ‘Are there things you wouldn’t laugh at? Are there things you wouldn’t satirise?’ And he replied ‘Absolutely. Yes. I wouldn’t do satire that used racist and sexist assumptions’. I found that interesting because if you think about Will Self’s work you would imagine that nothing is off limits.

So I don’t know. I think that racist jokes, ethic jokes, it’s interesting in so far as racist humour reveals deep anxieties, they reveal how far we are still captive to assumptions that we would rather not have. As a good liberal, Guardian reading, anti-sexist male, I’d find myself unwittingly, against myself, laughing at things I don’t want to laugh at. There are lies I’m telling myself.

So there are case of progressive humour and cases or reactionary humour. But the structure of humour is similar.

SD: At one level, don’t you just judge it in the way we would judge art. Is it good? Is it funny?

SC: In many ways the key passage in the book is the one from Trevor Griffiths’ The Comedians, which I remember watching as a kid on Granada TV, and which made an impression on me. In the TV version, the character that is played by Jimmy Jewel, the old music hall comic, makes this point, that any gag relieves tension. You can make people laugh. That’s not difficult. But a true gag, a comedian’s gag, has to do that and change the situation in which you understand yourself and the world. And great comedy does that.

A good example is watching the first episode of The Office and the first gag is this racist gag about the royal family thinking about a black man’s cock and the joke is told three times in the show. It seems to me that this is a good case. We’ve got this gag - and it’s a funny gag - but the way in which it’s handled is that you’re forced to effectively question all sorts of assumptions you have.

SD: What do you think of The Office?

SC: It’s painfully accurate. I almost can’t watch it, it’s so painful. I wonder, I’m an academic, I’ve worked in factories, but I’ve never really worked in an office. But I wonder what it’s like for people who work in offices. I watched the first episode last week and at three points I had to turn away. I couldn’t bear to watch it. I found it so painful.

To that extent, we’re attracted to situations of embarrassment and pain, the same reason that people watch horror movies with their hands over their eyes. Humour at its best is making explicit what is tacit, what is assumed, the stock of social know-how, and calling that into question, but calling it into question in a way that is recognised. Genuinely great humour recognises the world it’s describing and yet we are also called into question by it. That’s what great art should do. That’s what great philosophy should do. The one thing about humour is that this is an everyday practice that does this.

So if philosophy is the activity of reflection about that which passes for truth, and what is asked of a philosopher is to question what passes as truth, then it seems to me that humour at its best is doing a very similar thing. Great humour is blowing apart what passes for truth in the world. Most humour is rubbish and most humour doesn’t do that. And that’s way you need to be prescriptive, to just say that this is better than that.


Books

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Friday 1 November 2002

The Identity of England

Robert Colls

Since the 1980s, the word ‘identity’ has come to feature in the titles of an increasing number of academic history books. With its radical connotations of subjectivising history, the word ‘identity’ is very much associated with the vocabulary of the postmodern historian.

It is refreshing then, that Robert Colls has made a serious historical study of the development of English identity based on objective examination and evidence. The Identity of England is a long, detailed investigation into the key historical factors that have influenced notions of ‘Englishness’.

Colls, currently at the University of Leicester, also co-authored Englishness: Politics & Culture, 1880-1920 (1986) with Phillip Dodd (now director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts). That book, it could be said, was one of the first to ignite the heated cultural debate about what it means to be English. The Identity of England builds upon Colls’ previous work as he traces the interaction between the formation of the English state and the emergence of a specifically English cultural identity.

He stresses the historical contingency of national identity in relation to the Act of Union and the racialised British Empire of the nineteenth century. These examples demonstrate Colls’ thesis that ‘Englishness’ has often been a convenient cultural construct, shaped predominantly by the ruling elite’s preoccupations. His characterization of the ‘English Gentleman’ gives us valuable insights into the mind of the Victorian elite, and more importantly, how this worldview disintegrated during the interwar years.

Colls makes the powerful point that the demise of the Gentleman coincided with the decline of elite networks, secret knowledge and shared value systems. Unable to continue, the old guard has been replaced by a technocratic elite of managers now struggling without its own coherent cultural identity to legitimate itself in the eyes of citizens. Whilst Colls concedes that English identity has always been contingent he also recognizes that cultural identity cannot be devised solely from thin air, but has a grounding in social and political reality.

His strongest point touches on how our identity is not an inherited product of our past, but more an illustration of our attitudes towards the future. Now that the British imperial project has come to an end, we have no progressive aims to give us a sense of our identity. As a result, multiculturalism and the proliferation of increasingly local identities have fragmented hopes for a collective project that might define the nation’s identity.

Colls’ book is a sophisticated and scholarly study of some breadth. However, he is also often too content to rest on description and not prioritise the importance of different factors on identity formation. His concluding remarks that England can yet find a new progressive identity based on the continuing trust of ordinary people smacks a little of New Left moralising about ‘community’. It also seems to be in denial about the sad reality that increasingly, people prefer to seek fulfillment in their local histories and cultures. As Colls’ himself recognizes, we cannot turn back the clocks and rely on a mythical past to create a collective spirit.

So, if the national project has been emptied of its power, perhaps we should turn our efforts to developing a new and alternative project for the future - a new internationalism perhaps?


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Friday 1 February 2002

Unless - (Man Booker Prize 2002, SHORTLISTED)

Carol Shields

Unless is a subtle and intelligently written novel which tackles the drama of ‘goodness’ as opposed to ‘greatness’, examining loss and suffering through the curious details of everyday life.

Reta Winters, aged 44, is a light fiction writer living in a small town near Toronto with her family. With a good-looking husband, a moderately successful literary reputation and a pleasant brood of daughters, her life seems blessed with the contentedness of ordinary life. Until, however, her oldest daughter Nora leaves university one day and takes up a solitary life on the streets in Toronto. Every day she sits in her retreated world like a vagabond, with a sign draped around her neck on which is written a single word: ‘Goodness’.

Throughout the novel are interspersed Reta’s imagined letters to other writers and strangers, who she feels have been in some way involved in the conspiracy against her daughter. Her feminist instincts blame the exclusion of women from the canon of ‘greatness’. She addresses male writers and critics for neglecting the importance of women. Reta tries to convince herself that Nora’s implosion is a realisation of her powerlessness. In a man’s world a woman can never be known as great. Such a realisation has made her daughter aware that all she can ever strive for is to be good.

In Reta, Shields has created a witty and wise narrator with enormous powers of observation. Her strength is creating a literary marvel out of the simple moment. Small things, such as Reta’s fixation with domestic cleaning, her coffee conversations with female friends, the discovery of a misplaced invitation behind the side table, lend colour and depth to the poignant commentaries on loss. One example is a wonderful scene where the narrator recalls shopping some years ago in Washington for a silk scarf for her oldest daughter. The agony and ecstasy of such an insignificant day becomes a momentous lesson about never getting what you want.

Shields’ dwelling on powerlessness strikes a chord but not because of the inequalities of womanhood. Rather, they speak to a more fundamental feeling in contemporary society of the inability to be great. Nora, the silent, unmoveable daughter is reminiscent of the self-destructive Merry in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral. Both are young women brought up in an optimistic household with the pleasures of western living, and yet both come to reject their parents and their comfortable lifestyles. Merry and Nora, with their delightfully feminine names, seemed trapped by their helplessness.

This is a quiet, searching novel, but it sometimes lacks moral weight. Shields is a fine writer and can create moments of genuine feeling but she does not hit hard with any strong resolution, except her unconvincing resentment at the treatment of women in the world. Like the narrator of the novel, she can do wonders with the smallest incident and memory but seems reluctant to go any further.


Fiction

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The Story of Lucy Gault - (Man Booker Prize 2002, SHORTLISTED)

William Trevor

The Gaults are a rich Protestant family, whose position in rural Cork was already on the decline before the events of 1921 put an end to their world for good and forced them into exile. Lucy Gault is a nine-year-old child who understands only that she must leave the one home she has ever known.

Refusing to leave, she decides to run away, to show her parents just how strongly she feels about the issue, in the hope of changing their minds. Unfortunately for Lucy, her parents find some of her old clothes on the beach and decide that she must have gone for one last swim in the sea, and drowned. Her father Captain Gault and his wife leave Ireland, severing all contact, any kind of reminder of the child they think dead being too painful to bear. Lucy is found alive a while later, half starved and with a broken ankle. Having no way to contact her parents, she waits.

This is the tragic event which shapes the novel, there is nothing that happens that is not seen in relation to this event. The Story of Lucy Gault is a short novel, at a mere 230 pages, or more accurately it is a long short story. Trevor’s approach works wonderfully for a short story but restricts any attempt to create something of greater scope. A static portrait of loss is created. There are no characters to speak of, and no plot, no action that moves the story forward. Just the passing of time. And despite the passing of time everything remains eerily the same, the characters themselves become ghosts, with no purpose or aim in life. Lucy retains a hope that her parents will some day return, but this hope, as Lucy grows into a young woman, slowly turns into a morbid association with a past that is forever dead.

The former household servant, who along with her husband takes responsibility for raising Lucy, remarks that if the Gaults returned tomorrow, it would be too late. Lucy is lost to the world. Meanwhile, her parents wander aimlessly through Europe, exiles whose home and family are gone. The world of Protestant Ireland has vanished, the world of horse-drawn carts and paraffin lamps vanishes, the Gault family itself exists only in the past. Nothing can be done. The narrative voice is the embodiment of this sentiment, the sentiment of a complete and helpless loss.

The narrator is lazily recounting a tale, the reader is merely listening in to it. Ireland is partitioned, World War II comes and goes, the events of the twentieth century seem to pass unnoticed. The narrative is dispassionate and unconcerned, while what is being described is the miserable lives of people who are rooted in the past, so reinforcing the sense of hopelessness. Only glimpses of what is taking place are revealed, as if nothing could be more or less important than anything else. Upon visiting a cemetery, the narrator tells us that there is an area to place weeds that have been removed from a grave, no mention is made of whose grave the weeds have been removed from. The narrative voice is in a state approaching catatonic.

In truth the story is as long as it could be, even a little longer than it should be. Stretching the story to 230 pages means that the distance necessary to carry the reader along with such a morbid tale is lost. We begin to lose sympathy with characters that begin pathetic in the best sense only to become pathetic in the worst. If the story were 50, maybe even 100 pages, the reader may have had room to suppose that not every waking moment of the lives of the characters was dominated by the initial tragedy. We could have supposed that Lucy smiled once or twice in her life.

But Trevor’s narrative is intimate, specific, we see the characters everyday life too closely to remain sympathetic. The focus on the mundane and fleeting observations, such as a clock striking the hour, rather than on deeper sentiments, reminds us that we are not being shown the deeper sentiments because they are so painful, too painful to look at directly. This begins to rob all the characters of any humanity. To focus on the mundane in this way removes all mundane humanity from the characters. People who are so consumed by loss and grief are unnatural, they have no time to be petty, bored, irritated or simply to laugh when they see someone trip up in an amusing fashion.

These are the characters that hide in short stories. It isn’t that they are one dimensional, they are more accurately described as types. In short stories we can accept that we will be shown a portrait of a type; the true character will only ever be undeveloped and implied. We will not be shown enough to see a real character. Trevor shows us everything, but develops no character.

In short bursts The Story of Lucy Gault is a beautifully written and moving story. If you have the morbid constitution to survive a longer stint of misery, it may even work as a fine novella. This is no novel, however. This is only a criticism because The Story of Lucy Gault hangs somewhere in between a short story and a novel, without really being either. The breadth of the story either requires a further narrative distance or real character development to sustain even a short 230 pages.


Fiction

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Fingersmith - (Man Booker Prize 2002, SHORTLISTED)

Sarah Waters

‘“It’s a girl,” I say. And when she hears that she cries out with all her lungs: “Then God help her! For the world is cruel to girls! I wish she had died, and me with her!“‘

The Victorian world was of course particularly cruel to girls, and it is that cruelty that animates many of the great nineteenth century novels. In her own novels, Sarah Waters offers a new spin on the position of women in Victorian Britain. Her work has been described as ‘lesbian Victoriana’, but for all that label’s appeal, it would be unfair to ghettoise Waters.

Queen Victoria famously declined to pass legislation against lesbianism because she refused to believe ladies would do such things. This was really a kind of oppression by omission, and there is something appealing about writing lesbian characters into the Victorian world. Of course, this could be done very badly. As we discover in Fingersmith, lesbianism has long been a favourite preoccupation of pornographers, and then there is the crass tendency to project PC agendas into the past. Waters steers clear of both, and in many ways Fingersmith fits neatly into the nineteenth century tradition.

Oliver Twist gets a mention on the very first page, but the Dickens influence runs deeper than that: in fact the novel is a sort of Bleak Expectations. Fingersmith is the story of two orphans from very different backgrounds, who nonetheless turn out to have much more in common that the bad luck to have been born girls. Sue Trinder grew up in a thieves’ kitchen in the Borough (a fingersmith is a pickpocket), while the heiress Maud Lilly was being trained as a secretary by her sinister uncle in his country mansion. The two are brought together by a dastardly conman, and the ensuing intrigue brings forth revelation after revelation.

The plot is suitably gripping, and if the peripheral characters are a little thin, Sue and Maud both come to life in their struggle against destiny, whether inherited or imposed. Sue narrates most of the book, taking up the burden of explanation in a pleasantly traditional style. Maud’s section, though, is written in the present tense, and while she fills in the gaps and adds depth to Sue’s account, the effect is generally more impressionistic. When Maud meets characters we already know, it adds to the sense that she is more vulnerable and naïve than Sue, though in some ways she is also more savvy. They make an odd couple.

The girls’ sexual orientation, which develops over the course of the story, is only a small part of their transgressiveness. While they begin the novel as pawns in a man’s game, each in her own way gradually develops a sense of herself. Each revelation, however devastating it seems at the time, is further evidence that things are less fixed than they appear, and that women can perhaps take control of their own lives.

The love story at the heart of Fingersmith is complicated by circumstances both historical and particular, and the happy ending is elusive enough to keep the reader engaged for over 500 pages. We are amused.


Fiction

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Family Matters - (Man Booker Prize 2002, SHORTLISTED)

Rohinton Mistry

Set in modern Bombay, Family Matters follows only a few months in a family’s life. Nariman Vakeel, the grandfather, is a man suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and the bitterness of his two step-children. Determined to live a normal life, and against their advice, he goes for a short walk and breaks his ankle.

His accident starts a chain of events which lead the family to fall apart. Being infirm, he needs constant attention, but his step-daughter, Coomy, rejects him. Blaming him for her mother’s death, she refuses to care for him. Sickened by the reality of caring for an old man, she manipulates her situation, and her brother, in order to rid themselves of him. She orders an ambulance and puts him in it.

Without warning, he is pushed into the hands of his blood-daughter, Roxana, who shares a one-bedroom flat with her husband and two sons. Although willing to take Nariman on, they are unable to cope with him, and the burden begins to take its toll on the family. Driven to distraction by the claustrophobic atmosphere and the lack of funds, Roxana’s husband turns to betting, fraud and finally God as a pragmatic means of getting away from it all.

The story is one showing the present combined with one obsessed with the past: Nariman’s preoccupation with his long-lost love, Coomy’s with her mother’s death, and an India preoccupied by its romanticised past. All these combine to show a self-destructive side of modern life. The pettiness of family life dominates throughout - who will pay for Nariman’s medication, who should care for him? These questions take over a family who were previously happy to keep matters swept under the carpet. Bringing these issues into the open leads to a self-centredness which ultimately leads to tragedy.

The book is centred almost entirely around this very small family, and there is little opportunity for its members to seek help outside. You feel their isolation and their desperation to keep things together, while they steadfastly refuse to compromise with each other. There is an overwhelming sense of family being all that exists, and yet it is clearly not enough. Members of the family gain their status in life through their role in the family set-up, yet feel great disappointment at the reality of the relationships.

Family Matters is a beautifully-written book. It is slow-moving, and charming. It succeeds in encouraging the reader into its web, provoking sadness and anger. For a novel so dominated by failure and weakness, there is a great deal of humour. Mistry describes an India which finds modern morality difficult to combine with the traditions of the past, and shows how these contradictions work their way down into individual relationships. Family Matters is a deeply moving novel and a heart-breaking description of a family torn apart from within.


Fiction

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Dirt Music - (Man Booker Prize 2002, SHORTLISTED)

Tim Winton

A few pages into Dirt Music, we’re told that Australians are riddled with a ‘sentimental attachment to geography’, and Western Australians, like Tim Winton, are the worst of all.

Although Winton’s narrative is saturated with vibrant descriptions of the the wild beauty of his homeland, he does not idealise nature. He does ridicule the superficiality of Perth’s urban dwellers and the coarseness of White Point’s hicks, but he stops short of suggesting we should all go native.

The story briefly goes as follows. Georgie Jutland lives in White Point a tight-knit, ‘red neck’ fishing community. As an outsider from Perth’s wealthy suburbs, she can marvel at how ‘people could produce such a relentlessly ugly town in so gorgeous a setting’. But still she stays - why? Georgie is undoubtedly bored with Jim Buckridge, the local fishing legend she lives with. But inertia and alcoholism keep her put.

That is until she meets Luther Fox, a local poacher or ‘shamateur’. Lu is tolerated because he keeps to himself, but when he starts sleeping with Jim’s missus, it’s time for some good ole-fashioned White Point justice. He finds his van, and his dog, peppered with bullets, and decides to seek refuge on a tropical island off the far north of the country. There he lives Robinsoe Crusoe-like until Jim and Georgie track him down.

Unfortunately, Winton’s characters often seem to be either the medium through which the reader gets to experience Winton’s poetic images or the vehicle that drives the plot. Too many of the them are dysfunctional and many disappointingly one-dimensional.

Everyone is carrying some dirty secret or ghost that is supposed to explain their motives. Lu’s life of isolation is justified by the fact that human company inflames the memory of the night the rest of his family was killed in a car crash. Then there’s Georgie’s quest for some ‘ennobling impulse’ to give meaning to her day-to-day life. This is driven by the fear of becoming her mother: ‘A compliant if distracted wife. A competent and distant mother. Feminine. Good skin, nice manners.’ Finally there’s Jim, who is determined to reunite Georgie and Lu because he feels he can offload some demons by doing a good deed. None of this really cuts much mustard.

But who cares when Dirt Music is such an enjoyable book to read? Winton has a caustic wit which leaves few characters unscathed, least of all the ‘lawyers and surgeons and kick-arse CEOs’ who enjoy their modern conveniences for 51 weeks of the year and then get their annual hit of raw emotion in one-week survival holidays living on fear and humiliation.

The otherwise slow plot also builds to a dramatic page-turning climax, and half the time Winton’s prose bypasses your brain anyway, going straight for your senses. He wants the reader to hear the sea ‘thick with clicks and rattles, the encrypted static of the silent world speaking’, and he succeeds.


Fiction

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Life of Pi - (Man Booker Prize 2002, WINNER)

Yann Martel

It is a refreshing surprise to find a novel that mixes the usually discordant schools of zoology and philosophy, especially one that does so successfully.

Life of Pi is unusual in a number of welcome ways. An original take on the shipwreck adventure, Martel’s story charts the extraordinary 227 day sea journey of 16-year-old Pi, and the bizarre menagerie of animals that accompanies him on his raft: a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and the formidable Bengal tiger, Richard Parker.

The book is easy and sweet to read - the narrative is fluid and innovative and the descriptions are resonant and simple. The reader experiences a journey upon words as Pi does upon the sea, as the narrative runs playfully, with ebbs of light humour and comic asides. It is as much educational as adventurous, as the reader is informed of useful survival and zoo keeping tricks such as: ‘how to ward off sea-faring induced insanity with “I spy”’ and ‘how to use circus training to stay at the top of the food chain in an inflatable raft’. The story is imaginative yet without froth as religious and zoological digressions are blended with Pi’s account of his adventure.

Martel asks interesting questions in his book on the nature of freedom for both caged animals and humans, the growth of religion out of the demise of the primal survival instinct, man’s relationship with nature and the finely balanced similarities and differences we have with animals. As a parable, Life of Pi offers its protagonist as having an ideal attitude of curiosity and respect toward life. He is precocious in his knowledge of the instinctive and intellectual sides of human nature. Pi’s interests on land foreshadow the challenges he meets at sea. Having developed a profound spirituality, with a three-fold devotion to Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, and having studied the behaviour of animals at his father’s zoo, Pi is able to ward off despair and boredom on the raft with his faith and his time-consuming need to continually assert himself as the super-alpha male above Richard Parker.

Martel enjoys playing with narrative and skillfully teases reality with fantasy and fact with fiction. Although the story is presented as a real-life interview, Martel pushes our boundaries of belief with accounts of a visit to a carnivorous island and a chance meeting in the Pacific Ocean with a blind shipwrecked friend.

As the book’s realism wanes the story becomes increasingly incredible and frankly strange and we are eventually presented with an alternative, more sinister version of Pi’s journey. Yet one is led to choose fantasy over over-rated factuality and agree with the accident investigators who don’t believe Pi’s yarn: ‘The story with the animals is the better story’.


Fiction

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Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Battle of Ideas

Institute of Contemporary Arts

Intelligence Squared

Gresham College

LSE Public Lectures

Fabian Society Events

Exhibitions and Talks at the British Library



Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for this year’s Battle of Ideas festival.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

Internet Movie Database
IMDB - does exactly what it says on the tin

BFI
British Film Institute’s Finest

BFI’s Sight and Sound
World cinema eating its heart out

They shoot pictures, don’t they?
Dedicated to the art of directing

Barbican Film
Some of the most innovative films in town

ICA Film
Independent, political and art-house gorge-fest

National Media Museum
Not nearly as bad as it sounds

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

Internet Movie Database
IMDB - does exactly what it says on the tin

BFI
British Film Institute’s Finest

BFI’s Sight and Sound
World cinema eating its heart out

They shoot pictures, don’t they?
Dedicated to the art of directing

Barbican Film
Some of the most innovative films in town

ICA Film
Independent, political and art-house gorge-fest

National Media Museum
Not nearly as bad as it sounds

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.