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Writing Worth Reading

“I’d Take Tea With Hitler”

Lucy Hughes-Hallett talks about The Pike, her biography of Gabriele D’Annunzio — warmonger, fascist, philanderer — which won this year’s Johnson non-fiction prize. Great attraction of D’Annunzio as a subject was that he formed “a hinge between 19th-century romanticism and 20th-century totalitarianism”. As for his character: “Disapproval is not an interesting response … I’d love to have dinner with him” (1,150 words)

The Man Behind The Dickens Hoax

Conversation with an embittered north London writer called Arnold Harvey, who fooled Dickens scholars and biographers for a decade by confecting a meeting between Dickens and Dostoyevsky in 1862. He also claims credit for fabricating a host of published academic writers, and a Latvian poet called Janis Blodnieks. Oh yes, and he edited the Salisbury Review for a while, after Roger Scruton (2,240 words)

Life On Board A British Nuclear Submarine

“Climbing the ladders between decks exhausts me; I am forever hitting my head on protruding bits of metal; and once in the control room, while leaning against the periscope, I stumble backwards and accidentally press a button”

Why I Am Unfazed By Spot-Fixing In Cricket

“Why have I so far singularly failed to get worked up about the threat to the world’s greatest sport, and its supposed reputation for fair play? The reasons are partly historical, partly philosophical”

Umberto Eco: ‘People Are Tired Of Simple Things. They Want To Be Challenged’

Eco is optimistic, eclectic, as at home discoursing on Peanuts as he is on Proust. And one of those writers who’ll be known for one book. “Sometimes I say I hate The Name of the Rose because the following books maybe were better”

Lord Glasman: ‘I’m A Radical Traditionalist’

Aristotle meets Marx. So says Moss of British opposition leader’s “guru”. Unlikely member of House of Lords. Former jazz trumpeter, lives in flat over clothes shop. Wife burst out laughing when told he’d been appointed to the Lords

Fukuyama: ‘Americans Are Not Good At Nation-Building’

Interview with Francis Fukuyama, whose new book explores how liberal democracies are established. In short, how to “get to Denmark”. It’s still the best model. Only viable alternative, China, has legitimacy problems

In Bob We Trust

“Bob Dylan has been omnipresent for the past 50 years, yet we know next to nothing about him. Fat books pour forth, yet he still eludes us, this rolling stone, this balladic thin man. That may be why the love affair endures”

England Find Their Latest Golden Boy

How Alastair Cook made Australia’s bowlers despair. “Australian spectators may feel he has already borne out Bernard Shaw’s view that the English, not being a spiritual people, invented cricket to give them an idea of eternity”

It’s A Them And Us Situation

What will the Ryder Cup do for Newport? Lovely combination of gentle humour, sense of social justice as writer revisits housing estate where he grew up, now overlooked by luxury golfing resort

The Critical Mauling Of Yann Martel

Lovely, light-touch interview with Life of Pi author. Probes gently and effectively on Martel’s poorly received latest novel, which may be doomed for attempting a fictional treatment of the Holocaust

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