The Russian revolution was the beginning of the modern age, says award-winning author Roland Chambers. He tells us what Solzhenitsyn imagined Lenin was like, and about the children’s author who led a double life as a spy in Bolshevik Russia.
Search results: fairy tales
From wizards to alchemy and fairies to folklore, Cressida Cowell reveals the magical stories that were most important to her as a child (and which she now delights in sharing with her own children), and her own inspirations for writing about magic and magical worlds today.
For centuries, the witch has been an index not only of what we fear most in others, but also what we cannot cope with—the powerfully abnormal, strange and often irrational elements—in ourselves. And the best way to understand the history of witches and witchcraft is to first understand the supernatural, according to Diane Purkiss, Professor at Keble College, Oxford and author of the lauded book The Witch in History.
It’s a dictionary that seeks to document any word that exists—or ever existed—in the English language and track its evolution over time. Lexicographer Peter Gilliver chooses books to help understand the enormous undertaking that is the Oxford English Dictionary.
The word ‘sadism’ derives from the Marquis de Sade, the infamous 18th century French aristocrat. His works such as Justine and The 120 Days of Sodom are profoundly disturbing, retaining the ability to shock, disgust, and unsettle. Will McMorran, Sade’s translator, looks at the way Sade destabilises the idea of benevolent narrators, and how we must remain ethically engaged when reading him
In our Shakespeare series, we ask experts to select their favourite plays from the Bard’s oeuvre. Here, preeminent Shakespearean scholar Sir Stanley Wells chooses five plays that best chart the evolution of the Bard of Avon during his 25-year career.
Roald Dahl was one of the 20th century’s most popular children’s authors. Here, Tilly Burn, Archive and Collections Assistant at the wonderful Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, UK, chooses her top Roald Dahl books and discusses the secrets of his enduring appeal.
Zombies have returned with a vengeance in recent years, the secret to their undying popularity lying in their ability to embody many different kinds of menace, from social unrest to pandemics, financial insecurity to international terrorism. Greg Garrett, author of Living with the Living Dead, recommends five books to help you prepare for the zombie apocalypse
Of all the books of the Gulag, the one that struck me the most is this because it is just so brutally matter of fact. It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced-labour camps of Kolyma, in Russia’s polar northeast, and Shalamov himself spent 17 years there. This is not an overtly literary description of his experiences: it is written with such clarity and coldness that the brutality and the dehumanisation of the Gulag is palpable.
When William of Orange came from Holland to take the English throne in 1688, was it a foreign invasion, or a revolution from within? Yale historian, Steven Pincus, talks us through the conflicting views on the Glorious Revolution and argues for a new perspective.
The journalist and author Mark O’Connell explored the nature of transhumanism—the belief that technology will help us evolve beyond our current physical and mental limitations—in his award-winning book To Be A Machine. Here he selects five key books that speak directly to the movement.
Published in 1986, The Handmaid’s Tale is a haunting epistolary novel narrated by Offred, a woman living in a future America where environmental and societal breakdown have led to the establishment of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. In Gilead, women have been stripped of their fundamental rights and reduced to their reproductive potential. Lesbians and other ‘gender […]
I wanted to include an example of literature from Elizabeth’s reign because she inspired a fantastic richness and breadth of poetry, with lots of writers competing with each other to praise her in ever more elaborate ways. What you also get as you read on through The Faerie Queene is an increasing sense that the praise is not simple. There is criticism embedded in it as Spenser and others became quite disillusioned with Elizabeth in this late stage in her reign.
You don’t have to be a professional arachnologist to study and get excited about spiders—nor do you need to travel away from home. The author of Britain’s Spiders, Lawrence Bee, recommends all the books you need to become an amateur arachnologist.
The English countryside on a sunny summer’s day is one of the most beguiling places in the world to be. But how has it changed since the Black Death? Is there still a meaningful difference between urban and rural society? Rural historian Paul Brassley talks us through the best books to get a fuller understanding of England’s green and pleasant land.
The fight for women’s liberation and equality under patriarchy spans centuries of history, and is still being waged today—but what lessons can feminist movements like #MeToo learn from suffragettes and black feminist activists? Fordham historian Kirsten Swinth explores the best books on feminism, and makes a powerful case for modern feminists listening to early foremothers.
What is the difference between fairness and equality? In contemporary capitalist societies, some inequality is inevitable and desirable. But the rewards for the few at the top have soared while the rest have been squeezed. Is this fair? We need a new social contract, says the author and columnist
In the rapidly-emerging field of existential risks, researchers study the mitigation of threats that could lead to human extinction or civilisational collapse. We met with four researchers from The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, to discuss their recommendations of the best books to get a grasp of this dense subject.
The chances are that the word tango is African, perhaps Angolan, perhaps it was the name of the place or a kind of drum. It’s clearly not Spanish. There are early 19th-century sketches of African mourners at funerals moving in a tango-like way and one of them shows black people carrying a coffin and making these strange movements. It’s possible.