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Preview: London Review of Books

London Review of Books

Literary review publishing essay-length book reviews and topical articles on politics, literature, history, philosophy, science and the arts by leading writers and thinkers

Copyright: © LRB Limited 2016

Mary Wellesley: Menageries

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

In 1735, the Duke of Richmond was in search of a sloth bear. He took delivery of an animal but wasn’t happy with what had arrived. ‘I wish indeed it had been the Sloath that had been sent me, for that is the most curious animal I know, butt this is nothing butt a common black bear, which I do not know what to do with, for I have five of them already,’ he wrote to Hans Sloane, who had acted as his buying agent. ‘I beg you would tell him not to send me any Bears, Eagles, Leopards or Tygers, for I am overstock’d with them already.’

Richard Seymour: Trolling

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

What’s so funny about trolling? ‘Every joke calls for a public of its own,’ Freud said, ‘and laughing at the same jokes is evidence of far-reaching psychical conformity.’ To understand a joke is to share a culture or, more precisely, to be on the same side of an antagonism. Trolls do what they do for the ‘lulz’ (a corruption of ‘LOL’), a form of enjoyment that derives from someone else’s anguish. Whitney Phillips, whose research has involved years of participant-observation of trolls, describes lulz as schadenfreude with more bite.

Jonathan Lethem: Theatre of Injury

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

I write out of disarray, from a field of compatriots in disarray. We’re drifting like astronauts, distantly tethered by emails like the one I just got from a friend: ‘i feel like he is making everyone sick, and bipolar./i feel like I am so incredibly ill-equipped to deal with any of this./i’m taking blind advice from all comers without feeling like anything is remotely adequate./ i feel nostalgic for all of life before Nov 8, 2016.’

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

Recently, when the actor Matt Smith was introduced to Prince William and the prince was told Smith would soon be playing his grandfather in an epic Netflix series, The Crown, William offered only one word. ‘Legend,’ he said, as if they were talking about Dolly Parton. That is how the boys view their grandfather, as a one-off, a classic exemplar, rather than the mythic, intransigent beast of agonised loyalty known to their father.

Michael Wood: ‘Napoléon’

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

Julian Bell: At the National Gallery

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

Bernard Becker: In the GDR

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000


Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

The letters page from London Review of Books Vol. 38 No. 24 (15 December 2016)

Table of contents

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

Table of contents from London Review of Books Vol. 38 No. 24 (15 December 2016)