Living lightly

Anthony Sattin’s latest book emerged from his long fascination with the nomadic people of North Africa and the Middle East. It is an attempt to correct the view articulated by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze that “nomads have no history, they only have a geography”. In fact they have both, Sattin says, but because they … Read more

Living Rooms | Sam Johnson-Schlee

A more manorial ten-room apartment for me please. Bored of living in this century, I think I will redecorate. I am my own magic lantern, projecting onto my room new patterns and decorations, new furniture and ornaments. Like the entertainment laid on for Proust’s sulking narrator, my wish projector can replace ‘the opacity of the … Read more

A Leaky Manual on Living with Uncertainty: On Julia Armfield’s “Our Wives Under the Sea”

OCTOBER 4, 2022 MY FIRST PANIC attack happened in the air. I was six years old on a flight from New York to London on which Titanic was the onboard movie. This was during the late 1990s, back when all passengers were subjected to one single projection. I surreptitiously plugged my headphones in and sat, … Read more

The way we are living

Elizabeth Bishop outlived Robert Lowell just long enough to write his elegy: “North Haven”, she told one correspondent, “took me almost all summer” to perfect. Set on the Maine island where Bishop spent her final holidays and where Lowell “learnned to sail, and learned to kiss”, it begins, like so many of her poems, with … Read more

Making a Life’s Work of Death: On Hayley Campbell’s “All the Living and the Dead”

AUGUST 27, 2022 “HURRAY THEN FOR FUNERALS!” exclaims Jean-Baptiste Clamence in Albert Camus’s 1956 novel The Fall. Camus himself was a fan of funerals, according to Olivier Todd in his 1996 biography of the Nobel Prize–winning novelist. As Todd details, Camus became obsessed with American funeral customs on his trip to the United States in … Read more

Living in truth

“A spectre is haunting Eastern Europe”, wrote Václav Havel in The Power of the Powerless, “the spectre of what in the West is called ‘dissent’”. The dissident playwright’s revision of the first line of The Communist Manifesto was more than playful criticism; it gave expression to a philosophy of history that Havel hoped might supplant … Read more