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Freedom, Books, Flowers & the Moon

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A weekly culture and ideas podcast brought to you by the Times Literary Supplement.

A weekly culture and ideas podcast brought to you by the Times Literary Supplement.
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A weekly culture and ideas podcast brought to you by the Times Literary Supplement.




As we like it

There is only one author to whom the TLS devotes an issue every year: William Shakespeare. Michael Caines talks us through the latest theories, research and reviews; Ian McEwan discusses his new novel, Machines Like Me ‘Still a giddy neighbour’ – Shakespeare’s parish in the 1590s, by Geoffrey Marsh, the TLS The Bible on the Shakespearean Stage: Cultures of interpretation in Renaissance England, edited by Thomas Fulton and Kristen Poole Believing in Shakespeare: Studies in longing, by...


Ian McEwan – an interview

The novelist discusses his new book Machines Like Me with the TLS's fiction editor Toby Lichtig


Youth injustice system

Shauneen Lambe on ephibiphobia, fear of the teenager, and why we get youth justice wrong; Alice Bloch considers new possibilities at the frontiers of sex and robotics; George Berridge explains why now is the time to take out shares in the novelist Max Porter Why Children Follow Rules: Legal socialization and the development of legitimacy by Tom R. Tyler and Rick Trinkner James Garbarino Miller’s Children: Why giving teenage killers a second chance matters for all of us by James...


Whitechapel and Weimar

Anna Picard discusses the problems of subject matter and sensationalism in the new opera Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel; Anna Vaux talks us through the Bauhaus school and its global influence, as well as Lucian Freud's compulsion to create and control Books Jack the Ripper:The Women of Whitechapel by Iain Bell, ENO, until April 12 Walter Gropius: Visionary founder of the Bauhaus by Fiona MacCarthy Josef Albers: Life and work by Charles Darwent Lucian Freud by Martin Gayford


A deep history of Europe

Richard Fortey takes us on an energetic sprint through 65 million years of Europe's complex biological history; David Robey introduces the life and work of Emilio Salgari, the Italian Rider Haggard; Ella Baron, the TLS's regular cartoonist, discusses her work, including this week's European cover. Books Europe: A natural history by Tim Flannery Emilio Salgari: Una mitologia moderna tra letteratura, politica, società (volumes I and II) by Ann Lawson Lucas Ella Baron's work will be...


Forgotten, not gone

Carol Tavris considers new approaches to the old problem of old age (and the newer problem of old old age); as secularism wanes on the global scale, Rupert Shortt considers whether religion does more harm than good Books Bolder: Making the most of our longer lives by Carl Honoré Borrowed Time: The science of how and why we age by Sue Armstrong Retirement and Its Discontents: Why we won’t stop working, even if we can by Michelle Pannor Silver Women Rowing North: Navigating life’s...


O, the Edward Gorey of it all

Phil Baker guides us through the morbid, wistful and yet immensely charming world of the writer and illustrator Edward Gorey; Frances Wilson weighs the pleasures and pains of letter and email writing; Ian Sansom on the struggle to be funny Books Born To Be Posthumous: The eccentric life and mysterious genius of Edward Gorey, by Mark Dery What a Hazard a Letter Is: The strange destiny of the unsent letter, by Caroline Atkins Written In History: Letters that changed the world, by Simon...


Dave Eggers: The violations start with us

“What we often forget in the daily drumbeat of abuses by the dominant tech companies is our complicity in these abuses, and in the fundamental and unsettling ways the internet has changed every one of us.” As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enters its seventieth anniversary, Dave Eggers, in the 2018 PEN H. G. Wells lecture, argues that urgent amendments are needed to mitigate the corrosive effects of technology on the societal and the personal. You can read an edited extract from...


A nose is a nose is a nose…

David Coward celebrates the 400th anniversary of the birth of Cyrano de Bergerac, whose radical thought has long been obscured by his protuberant nose; Muriel Zagha on Molière, France’s most famous playwright, and a bold new adaptation of Tartuffe; finally, a poem by Stephen Knight: “Rail Replacement Bus Service” (sigh) Molière’s ‘Tartuffe’, a new version by John Donnelly, at the National Theatre, London


Unsilenced voices

With Stig Abell and Lucy Dallas Toby Lichtig comes in to talk the wide scope of Jewish culture, the “lachrymose” theory of history and why it is Arthur Miller time once more. Roz Dineen deals with porn, pile-ons and goop podcasts. And we call Thea when she is “working from home” to check in on her new dog.


Half glitzy, half dowdy

The writer and comedian Charlie Higson, half of the team behind The Fast Show, on the curious history of comedy written and performed by pairs; the novelist Margaret Drabble considers the dizzying new releases from the estate of Anthony Burgess, the man Philip Larkin once called “the Batman of contemporary letters” Texts Stan & Ollie, directed by Jon S. Baird Morecambe & Wise: 50 years of sunshine, by Gary Morecambe The Double Act: A history of British comedy duos, by Andrew...


Zadie Smith, in conversation

A conversation between the novelist and essayist Zadie Smith and the journalist Carolina, recorded at Hay Festival Cartagena in Colombia earlier this month. The full Hay Festival archive can be accessed by subscribing to Hay Player online at


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: the inaugural Gabriel García Márquez lecture

A recording of the inaugural Gabriel García Marquez lecture given this February by the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at Hay Festival Cartagena in Colombia. The full Hay Festival archive can be accessed by subscribing to Hay Player online at


Narratives of sexual assault

As the MeToo movement continues to focus our attentions on questions around abuse, consent and justice, Rebecca Watson joins us to discuss the various and prolonged impacts of sexual assault, and the warping effect of trauma on narrative; the TLS’s French editor Adrian Tahourdin considers the inexorable rise of “le globish” (by which English words supplant, or pervert, French ones), and presents the diverse and challenging books in contention for this year’s Society of Author’s Translation...


How Macron went wrong

Eighteen months after Emmanuel Macron rode a wave of optimism to the Élysée Palace, the French are rioting and the President's approval ratings are desperately low – Sudhir Hazareesingh tells us what went wrong; James O'Brien reflects on another week of Brexit bafflement; Laura Freeman introduces the "Hungry Novel", a sub-genre of the post-war British novel in which writers, subsisting on meagre rations of stodge and tinned goods, channelled their appetites into their prose


‘American Standard’, a new poem by Paul Muldoon

Read by Lisa Dwan. Full text available at


Everything points north

Catherine Taylor on bookish goings on in the north of England, from her family’s bookshop in Sheffield to the Northern Fiction Alliance of small presses; Diarmaid Ferriter considers the fraught matter of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; Fríða Ísberg on the spectre of war in Icelandic film and fiction Books The Border: The legacy of a century of Anglo-Irish politics by Diarmaid Ferriter Hotel Silence (Ör) by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir Woman at War, directed by Benedikt...


Reddit's new religions

Imogen Russell Williams on children's books that tackle grief and war, “offering distressed adults the calming certainty of a script, and baffled children the reassurance of straightforward answers”; Carl Miller discusses the creation, and squabbling continuation, of Reddit, one of the most popular websites in the world; A. N. Wilson considers the Travellers Club in London, now in its 200th year, where Britain's prime ministers "got stuff done" Books White Feather by Catherine and David...


Egos and experiments

Boyd Tonkin states the case – never overstated – for literature in translation, and reviews a commendable recent effort "to grasp, and to survey, the entire planet of words"; Andrew Scull considers the travails of social psychology and the egos and experiments that professed to tell us something essential about human nature by setting fire to forests or electrocuting dogs... Books Found in Translation: 100 of the finest short stories ever translated, edited by Frank Wynne The Lost Boys:...


Finer points of murder

Tom Stevenson offers a recent history of political assassination, from a CIA manual of 1953 to the Jamal Khashoggi affair; The literary achievements of Nancy Cunard have long been eclipsed by her image as the archetypal flapper-muse of the roaring 1920s – as Anna Girling reveals a previously unknown short story (published for the first time in this week's TLS), we reassess Cunard's legacy; Who killed Edwin Drood? In 1914, faced with Dickens's final, unfinished novel, prominent literary types...