Review: Monsieur Proust’s Library – Anka Muhlstein

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka Muhlstein takes us on a literary pathway through Marcel Proust’s great work, À la Recherche de Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time). This slim volume (141 pages) is a printed in blue ink on high quality paper, with attractive illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.

I can’t say [...]

Review: C S Lewis: A Life – Alister McGrath

When I first saw this book, C. S. Lewis: a Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet I wondered why anyone would want to write another biography of C S Lewis. After all, George Sayer, A N Wilson, Roger Lancelyn Green, Walter Hooper have all published biographies of Lewis. Most Lewis fans will also be familiar with [...]

Revew: Balzac’s Omelette – Anka Muhlstein

This book ticks a number of boxes for me:

– It describes the literary world of Paris in the 19th century; – It homes in on Honore de Balzac, a writer I have been reading for the last two or three years; – It describes the history of French cooking and eating-out; – It’s very [...]

Review: Such Stuff as Dreams – Keith Oatley

Keith Oatley is a novelist and professor of cognitive psychology at the Univeristy of Toronto. He has some remakable things to say about the act of reading. His book, Such Stuff as Dreams suggests that when we read, our brains interpret social interactions in a work of fiction as the real thing – as far [...]

Review: Brief Lives: Virginia Woolf – Elizabeth Wright

Despite stealing the byline for this website from her (“he reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others”), I am not generally a great fan of Virginia Woolf’s writings. But living where I do in East Sussex, we are surrounded by Woolf places, including only a few [...]

Review: The Possessed – Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman’s book of essays, The Possessed, loosely based on the joys of reading classic Russian literature, turns out to be a bit of a hodge-podge of travel-writing, literary criticism and a personal reading history, enlivened by a butterfly mind that flutters from one subject to another without really landing for too long on any [...]

Review: Austerlitz – W G Sebald

This article was revised and updated in November 2011. It is much longer than my usual articles and is more of a study guide than a review and definitely contains “spoilers”.

Sebald – an oblique vision

The books of W G Sebald have interested me for many years now and unlike most other books, [...]

Review: Love, Sex, Death and Words – John Sutherland and Stephen Fender

This is a review of a book I was sent by Icon Books, but at my request – I would have purchased it anyway, especially after having read it, so thanks to Icon.

I have been looking forward to reading Love, Sex, Death and Words for some time, having enjoyed John Sutherland’s earlier books like [...]

Whatever happened to modernism?

An article was published in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper with the provocative title, “Feted British authors are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied, says leading academic“. Yes,I think I can live with that! Salman Rushdie and Juian Barnes’ books usually leave me cold, but not so sure about Ian McEwan, who’s written some fantastic books.

I’ve never heard [...]

Review: Excavating Kafka – James Hawes

I started to read the books of Franz Kafka as a young man and found them remarkably relevant to me at the time, describing as they do a sense of alienation from mainstream society which so fitted in with 1960/70s counter-culture.

Working in my first boring office job, the thought of waking up as a [...]