Spectator

The discreet charm of sewers

19 November 2005

The Third Man’s Vienna: Celebrating a Film Classic Brigitte Timmermann

Public visits to the sewers of Vienna are rare: the clammy atmosphere can cause breathing problems. Nevertheless in 1994 I visited them with a local Graham Greene enthusiast, Brigitte Timmer-… Read more

The days of Hitler’s jackal

22 October 2005

Mussolini’s Italy R. J. B. Bosworth

When Benito Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935, Italians were filled with jingoist pride. The dictator triumphantly announced the conquest of the promised sub-Saharan kingdom. ‘He’s like a god,’… Read more

Viragos on the march 25 June 2005

Renaissance Woman Gaia Servadio

Lucrezia Borgia was not the fiend history made her out to be. According to Gaia Servadio, she was a radiant symbol of Renaissance woman and, moreover, a judicious administrator of… Read more

The original Essex man

11 December 2004

Hawkwood: The Diabolical Englishman Frances Stonor Saunders

The boil and hiss of mediaeval Hell, as conceived by Dante, is hard for us to imagine. Yet the 1935 Hollywood melodrama, The Div- ine Comedy, contains a ten-minute reconstruction… Read more

A time of zero tolerance

2 October 2004

Havoc Ronan Bennett

Born in 1956, Ronan Bennett is a Belfast writer of great gifts. His last novel, The Catastrophist, was a tense parable of conscience set in the Belgian Congo at the… Read more

God’s expeditionary force

6 March 2004

The Jesuits Jonathan Wright

In the 16th century Montaigne voiced the fear that missionary endeavour — the white man’s ‘contagion’ — would hasten the ruin of the New World. Though Jesuits played their part… Read more

Learning the hard way

25 January 2003

I’LL TAKE YOU THERE Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific, even prolix writer, with more than 50 novels and short-story collections to her name. Yet she writes wonderfully of life’s uncertainties and of American… Read more

Stooping to conquer

30 November 2002

NOBODY’s PERFECT Anthony Lane

Anthony Lane has been film critic for the New Yorker since 1993, and the light lash of his humour is waspish and urbane in its New Yorker-ese. Nobody’s Perfect, a… Read more

Articles and Interviews

Nightmare in the Caribbean

6 March 2004

Shortly after Christmas I went to Haiti for the first time in 13 years. The collapse of the Aristide regime was still two months away, but the Caribbean republic was… Read more

Montserrat Notebook

7 January 2012

Montserrat, a smoulderingly beautiful volcanic island in the British West Indies, is a 15-minute flight from Antigua. Apart from me, the only passenger on the propeller plane is a birdwatcher… Read more

Rover dose

17 March 2012

The other day my five-year-old Labrador was diagnosed with acute cannabis intoxication. I had been taking Olga for a walk on Hackney Downs when she disappeared behind an abandoned railway.… Read more

Travel Special – Jamaica: Meeting the queen’s man

24 March 2012

This August, Jamaica celebrates the 50th anniversary of independence. Amid the bunting and parades, talk will be of Britain’s continued presence in the island and the role of the monarchy… Read more

The tide turned

21 April 2012

A couple of years ago, a rescue operation was recorded at a lifeboat station in Poole, Dorset. ‘The boat was launched at 13.35p.m. following a call that a man and… Read more

Nicolas Roeg interview: ‘I hate the term “sex scene”’

13 July 2013

‘Oh, some of my films have been attacked with absolute vitriol!’ said Nicolas Roeg, 85, and still one of the darkest and most innovative of post-war British directors. We were… Read more

I proposed to my wife in Haiti. Soon I won’t be able to recognise it

16 August 2014

This summer, I returned to Haiti for the first time in ten years. I was itching to see how the Caribbean republic had changed after the terrible earthquake of 12… Read more

Why I’m now scared of book clubs

12 July 2014

‘Hi Ian!’ the email began. ‘We are a group of mostly females who meet regularly in London to review really good reads. We are currently reading The Dead Yard, and… Read more

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