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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 2018

Colin Burrow: The End of the Epithet

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

The Odyssey is much harder to translate than The Iliad. One person’s interpolation or historical curiosity will be another person’s moment of deep psychological insight. That problem is compounded by the subject matter and social world of the poem. It is full of travellers and strangers who might be gods, or con men, or, like much enduring godly Odysseus of the many wiles himself, a little bit of both. So no one ever quite knows what’s going on. A swineherd might turn out to be an abducted prince. A Cyclops might greet a stranger who addresses it politely by bashing the brains out of one of his companions as if he were a puppy. A good king might politely offer a wary welcome and food, listen to a stranger’s story, and then after a tactful delay ask who he is and where he is from. And then the guest might lie.

Adewale Maja-Pearce: After Boko Haram

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

The scene was set for the rise of an extreme sectarian movement. There would be no shortage of foot soldiers: Comolli points out that with a population approaching 200 million, Nigeria has ‘the highest number of non-attending schoolchildren in the world’: 10.5 million in 2010, the last year for which figures are available. Most are concentrated in the north, where ‘70 per cent of the population is illiterate.’ All that was needed was an eloquent figure who could applaud the governors’ embrace of sharia while pointing out that they fell far short of the code of conduct they favoured.

Isabel Hull: When can you start a war?

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro’s point is that ‘for all its problems, the New World Order is better than the Old.’ Theirs is a valuable reminder that law matters and that international co-operation is not a utopia, but a functioning reality. Recently, it has been hard to hear that truth above the din produced by bad actors, like Putin and Trump, and by criticism of the neoliberal order from the left and the populist right, which obscures the positive effects of internationalism. What’s more, we take for granted a world in which the assumption is that countries will not engage in war.

Michael Wood: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

Helen Thompson: West Ham Disunited

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

Jeremy Harding: David Goldblatt

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100


Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

The letters page from London Review of Books Vol. 40 No. 8 (26 April 2018)

Table of contents

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0100

Table of contents from London Review of Books Vol. 40 No. 8 (26 April 2018)