An exhibition at the British Library in London questions the future of writing.
What does Jean-Léon Gérôme’s 1866 painting ‘Slave Market’ say about today’s extremist politics?
A review of Sally Rooney’s Normal People
An exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arab in Paris explores a century of shifting Arab power through the lens of soccer.
How a petition to remove the artwork has raised questions of censorship and the “infiltration” of American identity politics
Can a Museum for ‘Progressive Artists’ Have an Arms-Manufacturer Vice-Chairman?
With essays that span the devastating effects of financial inequality and globalization and a new novel on climate change disaster, John Lanchester is becoming the central voice for the end of the world. But such serious business also requires a kind of trickery. It was exceptionally crowded for a weekday afternoon at the British Library as John Lanchester peered into a vitrine containing a curious jewel. It was the final weeks of a sold-out exhibition on Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and although the show included the oldest surviving copy of the poem Beowulf, the oldest known Latin Bible, and a variety of other literary treasures, these weren’t what the author was most interested in. Instead, Lanchester contemplated a bejeweled golden reading pointer. In the ninth century, its creator, King Alfred, had sixty of them made to accompany copies of his own translation into Old English of a Latin papal text — a kind of premodern marketing campaign. Its most interesting feature is its promotional self-awareness; Lanchester pointed to an inscription on the jewel that read, AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN — “Alfred …