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    Quaresima: Indefinite Lent

    Thomas Jones

    Fifteen days ago: 2706 people in Italy had at this point tested positive for Sars-CoV-2; there were 443 new cases; 276 had recovered; 107 were dead. The Italian government announced on Wednesday, 4 March that schools would be closed the following day, and would not reopen until Monday, 16 March. A week had passed since Ash Wednesday. It would have been neat if the beginning of quarantine had...


    Society as a Broadband Network

    William Davies

    With Britain heading towards a shutdown, lasting who knows how long, it will quickly become evident how difficult it is to sustain society without everyday sociality. The triumph of the Thatcherite and Hayek­ian vision meant that we ended up with a ‘flexible’ economy in which a large number of people are entirely reliant on the near-term vagaries of the labour market for their day-to-day survival, with neither savings nor state guarantees to provide any back-up when that market crashes. Wages, rent, credit card repayments and everyday consumption are locked into their own ‘just-in-time’ supply chain, which is stressful enough even when it’s up and running. Having spent decades overhauling the welfare state to promote a more entrepreneurial, job-seeking, active populace, driven by an often punitive conditionality, Britain has little to fall back on when the most urgent need is for everybody to stay at home.

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    From the blog

    After Covid-19, the Climate

    Anne Orford

    17 March 2020

    By late last year, it seemed clear that decades of attempts to coax governments and business leaders into taking seriously the risks posed by the climate crisis were leading nowhere. Yet faced with the far more immediate threats posed by a global pandemic, states that for decades had been committed to neoliberal thinking have slowly begun to embrace such radically old-fashioned ideas as planning for the future, relying on scientific expertise, or calling on their constituents to make sacrifices in order to protect vulnerable members of society. Environmental campaigners and journalists have begun to document the effects that the shut-down of factories, cancellation of large conferences, postponement of sporting events, and limitations on freedom of movement have had on carbon emissions.  

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    Diverted Traffic

    A new newsletter and online collection from the LRB, featuring just one piece from our archive per day, chosen for its compulsive, immersive and escapist qualities, and also for its total lack of references to plague, pandemics or quarantine.

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    Ubu Jarry

    Hal Foster

    ‘Anew type has emerged,’ a critic wrote after the raucous premiere of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu roi in Paris in December 1896, ‘a popular legend of base instincts, rapacious and violent.’ ‘What more is possible?’ W.B. Yeats, who was in attendance, recalled in his autobiography. ‘After us the Savage God.’ Was the uproarious Ubu an early intimation...


    Fran?oise Gilot

    Lili Owen Rowlands

    FrançoiseGilot wasn’t impressed when she first saw Guernica, aged 15, at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. She appreciated the painting as a political act, but ‘was not so crazy, aesthetically or technically, about Picasso’. Six years later, she spotted him across the tables of Le Catalan, a restaurant on the Left Bank, and was equally underwhelmed. Surrounded...

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    ‘Mummy est morte’

    Christopher de Bellaigue

    De Bellaigue?’ The voice belonged to one of the senior boys in the house, someone who had never spoken to me before. I looked up from my desk, where I was surveying my untouched homework. It was the afternoon of Sunday, 10 February 1985. ‘Jaques wants to see you.’ He turned and walked away.

    I had first seen Jaques’s private quarters on the day I entered Eton a few...

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    LRB Collections numbers 1 to 7

    LRB Books: Collections and Selections

    Rediscover classic pieces, recurring themes, and the dash the London Review of Books has cut through the history of ideas, for the past 40 years, with LRB Collections and now LRB Selections: two new series of collectible books.

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    Jon McNaught illustration of person looking at phone on a bus

    What’s new?

    ‘The London Review of Books is something new,’ the LRB’s founding editor Karl Miller wrote in our first ever issue, 40 years ago. ‘This, for the first time, is it.’ Now, for the first time in a decade, the same can be said of our website.

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    COVID-19 update from the London Review of Books for Tuesday 17 March 2020:

    Like everyone else, we are trying to work out how best to ensure our employees’ and customers’ safety. We have today taken the following decisions:

    • To close both the London Review Bookshop and the Cake Shop, effective immediately, until further notice.
    • To postpone indefinitely all events and late shopping evenings at the London Review Bookshop due to be held in March and April. We will be writing to all ticket-holders this week, so please don’t get in touch until you’ve heard from us; we’re grateful for your patience while we process refunds.
    • We will be announcing new bookselling and digital publishing initiatives this week, to provide diversion in the coming months. The paper itself will, for now, continue to be published.

    Stay tuned, and thanks.

    Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

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