The Spectator

A weekly, UK-based magazine covering current political, economic, and cultural issues. Articles include interviews, commentary, opinion pieces, essays, and cultural criticism.

Articles from July 7

190th Special: Ideas in the Cinema
The author of Brighton Rock (1938) was The Spectator's film critic and literary editor. He continued writing for the magazine until 1988190 years of The SpectatorNot even the newspapers can claim so large a public as the films: they make the circulation...
190th Special: No Mere Spectator
Although The Spectator (literally) defined 'The Establishment', it has never been its organ. In fact, it was founded as a vehicle for root-and-branch reform that sought from the outset to upend the establishment. Its first editor, the Scottish firebrand...
190th Special: Out - and into the World
The magazine argues for a No vote in the Referendum on the European Community. The headline was used again in 2016190 years of The SpectatorAt no time during the campaign have the opponents of our membership of the EEC been remotely as unbalanced, as...
190th Special: Review: Mr Oscar Wilde's Poems
The Spectator has never minced its words - as the young Wilde found out, aged 27190 years of The SpectatorThe reading of this book fills us with alarm. It is evidently the work of a clever man, as well as of an educated man, but it is not only a book...
190th Special: Spice Girls Back Sceptics on Europe
190 years of The SpectatorThe Spice Girls were at the time the biggest girl group in the world, their debut album selling 23 million copies. The interview brought the magazine its highest sales figure for a generationInterview the Spice Girls, I thought....
190th Special: Sweeping the Streets
The Spectator was instrumental in the legalisation of private homosexual acts - which led it to be dubbed 'The Bugger's Bugle' by the Sunday Express. The law did not change for a decade190 years of The SpectatorThere are two ways of looking at sexual...
190th Special: The Awful Rise of 'Virtue Signalling'
Virtue signalling is one of many phrases invented by Spectator writers ('the Establishment' is another). It is now in use all over the world190 years of The SpectatorGo to a branch of Whole Foods, the American-owned grocery shop, and you will see huge...
190th Special: The Country Gentleman and the Corn Laws
On landowners trying to have their cake and eat it. The Corn Laws were repealed in 1846190 years of The SpectatorThe country gentlemen of England never committed a greater blunder than when they passed the Corn Law of 1815. If they would but allow themselves...
190th Special: The Duty of England and the American Crisis
On the outbreak of the American Civil War, the magazine opposed the rest of the British press and supported the North against the slave-owning South190 years of The SpectatorThe time has arrived when the national will on the American quarrel ought to...
190th Special: The Honour of the Brigade
This and other despatches from the front line were published anonymously from 'A Student in Arms'. Hankey was killed at the Somme in 1916, aged 31190 years of The SpectatorThe road was full of troops. Columns of infantry slogged along at the side. Guns...
190th Special: The New Club of Rich Young Men
The effects of the Big Bang and how the yuppies' high life wouldn't last. The Black Monday crash came the following October190 years of The SpectatorIt is difficult to estimate the number of young investment bankers, stockbrokers and commodity brokers...
190th Special: To Our Non-Political Readers
The Spectator on its active role in the 'great business' of reforming Parliament, which led the next year to the Great Reform Act190 years of The SpectatorLucretius tells us, in some famous lines, that it is a pleasant thing to watch the sea in a tempest,...
Ancient and Modern
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has given all his cabinet a copy of Cicero's advice on how to win arguments. This is a very foolish move.'Rhetoric' (same root as 'orator'), or persuasive speaking, was the name of this activity. In the 4th century bc,...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Newsmax, the magazine of the eponymous US conservative multiplatform network, carries a full page advertisement for 'The Presidential 1911 Pistol', produced by an organisation called Heroes and Patriots. This 'beautifully engraved' and 'fully functional'...
Cinema: Swimming with Men
Swimming with Men is a British drama-comedy starring Rob Brydon as a disaffected middle-aged accountant who joins his local male synchronised-swimming team, doesn't bond with any of his teammates, doesn't learn about what matters in life, catches athlete's...
'Conan Doyle for the Defence', by Margalit Fox - Review
One day in December 1908, a wealthy 81-year-old spinster named Marion Gilchrist was bludgeoned to death in her Glasgow flat. Miss Gilchrist, who lived alone with her maid, was an obsessive collector and hoarder of jewels, which she hid among her clothes....
Conservatives Are Wrong about Free Speech
The consensus is we all have to watch what we say. But do we?'There. I said it.' That phrase, and the attitude it strikes, says something pretty specific. It doesn't just say: here's what I think. It says: 'Here's what I think, and, you know what? It's...
Councils and the Destruction of Wild Flowers
We need our roadside verges to ensure the survival of rare plantsThe autumn squill, Scilla autumnalis, has bright bluebell-coloured starry flowers. It is rare in the British Isles. It is also tiny, so small that most people could easily clodhop straight...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. I've accepted an invitation to stay in a small house party in France. My host hasn't mentioned who else is coming. He is an old friend but he has a number of other male friends, each representing a different facet of his personality. My worry is that,...
Diary: Dominic Lawson
Happy 190th birthday, dear Spectator. And in what fine health you are, at such an advanced age. This was hardly inevitable when I joined the magazine, as deputy editor, in 1987. It was just about to mark its 160th year of unbroken losses, a corporate...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
We order some French things better in London -- often, admittedly, with French help. A grenouille friend recently took me to lunch at the Beaujolais Club just off Charing Cross Road. He said that it overwhelmed him with nostalgia. As a child, living...
Exhibitions 1: Christo/ Tomma Abts
It's not a wrap. This is the first thing to note about the huge trapezoid thing that has appeared, apparently floating, on the Serpentine Lake. Many of the projects by the artists who conceived it, Christo and his late wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude,...
Exhibitions 2: The Real Tolkien
To no one's surprise, the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian in Oxford, where J.R.R. spent so much of his time, has been a huge success. Were tickets on sale, it would be a sell-out, but the Bodleian has made it free. The visitors...
High Life: Taki
Oh, to be in England, and almost die of heat after the Austrian Alps. Yes, Sarah Sands was right in her Speccie diary about last week being a great week of summer parties in London, but the really good ones are still to come. This weekend both Blenheim...
'I Will Be Complete: A Memoir', by Glen David Gold - Review
'I think you're an adult when you can no longer tell your life story over the course of a first date,' says Glen David Gold. I emerged from his weighty memoir feeling more like I'd been through a marriage: sadder, wiser, still sifting the decades of...
James Forsyth: Free Movement Is Europe's Totemic Issue
It isn't just Brexit that worries the government, as the cabinet meeting this week demonstrated. Much of it was taken up with a discussion of the upcoming Nato summit and Donald Trump's visit. Ministers were told that Britain would be encouraging its...
Leading Article: To Convey Intelligence
Britain has a long-standing tradition of robust yet friendly disagreementIn the basement of The Spectator office, there is a 12-volume version of the paper in its original incarnation. That journal, started in 1711 by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele,...
Letters
Technical issuesSir: Martin Vander Weyer's supposition that car manufacturers are holding back investment due to Brexit seems to be wishful thinking (Any other business, 30 June). Having worked for years for one of the largest international vehicle manufacturers...
Lionel Shriver: You Don't Win an Argument by Getting Personal
'If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant,' Democratic Representative Maxine Waters railed to a California rally last month, 'in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
At 7 p.m., panting, I knocked on the door of room 201 of the Hotel InterContinental, Marseille, expecting it to be opened by Patrick Woodroffe, the man who has splendidly lit Rolling Stones gigs for the past 33 years, who would, I believed, hand over...
Mad Men and Their Art
Laura Gascoigne on the 'idiot' artists whose surreal visions flourished in Victorian asylumsIn G.F. Watts's former sculpture studio in the Surrey village of Compton, a monstrous presence has interposed itself between the dusty plaster models of 'Alfred,...
Martin Vander Weyer: Enjoy Your Feelgood Summer - There May Be Trouble Ahead
I've been on a mini-tour, full of echoes and warnings. First, to the Grange Festival in Hampshire, where we might still have been enjoying the summer of '87: a moneyed audience in a Barings mansion laughing at funny foreigners in John Copley's retro...
Matthew Parris: The Term 'Marriage' Needs to Be Untangled
Rebecca Steinfeld (37) and Charles Keidan (41) have a moral objection to marriage. They've been together since 2010, have two very small children, but haven't tied the knot. This, they say, is because the law doesn't offer a knot they're comfortable...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
'Suicide!' yelled my husband, while performing an inappropriate mime of a hangman's noose. That was his reply when I asked him what ideation suggested to him.Unknown to him, ideation has, since my husband's day, made an unlikely leap from psychiatry...
Music: Virtuoso Virtue-Signalling
All my life I've wanted to compose music, and now I've done it. I've written a sonata for solo flute that boasts two highly original features; it's five hours long and must be performed by a badger.Though it took me only five minutes to write, my opus...
No Sacred Cows: Toby Young
According to a poll of 538 experts on women's issues, the United States is one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world for women. Admittedly, America is ranked tenth, but it's still considered more dangerous than 183 other countries, including...
Notes On. Being the Perfect Guest
Come to our house in France, say generous friends, come to Italy, come fishing. 'How wonderful, what shall we bring?' Nothing, they reply. They are lying, obviously. Bring cash, a thoughtful present for the house -- pillowcases, new books -- and your...
Opera: Pelléas et Mélisande
The femme fatale was invented in France. A giddy, greedy child in her first incarnation, as the antiheroine of Abbé Prévost's L'Histoire du Chevalier Des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (1731), she had no voice of her own. Reshaped as a sphinx by Alfred de...
Portrait of the Week
HomeIn an attempt to distract the nation from the toothache of Brexit, the government announced a £4.5 million scheme to encourage homosexuals to hold hands; a law would be considered to ban corrective therapy, which Penny Mordaunt, the Equalities Minister,...
Radio: Narrative Medicine/ Words and Music/ Outlook
'Can one person really grasp the significance of what another person has been through?' asks Dr Rita Charon in this week's essay on Radio 3. She's a physician in New York (isn't it somehow telling that in Britain we've long since forgotten what GP actually...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Opening a button of my shirt to get the horse lorry through its MOT is the sort of thing I like to kid myself about.I know I'm not really getting a lorry through its MOT by unbuttoning my shirt, but at my age it makes me feel good to think that I might.So...
Rod Liddle: Should People Be Forced to Be Gay?
At last I have found a summer festival I can attend in good faith without the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn turning up. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there seemed to be no festive gatherings planned which Corbyn wouldn't attend, with his retinue...
Rugby Is No Longer a Gentlemen's Game
Rugby used to be civilised - but no longer. Now it's footballers who know how to behaveMost British sports fans are familiar with the maxim that 'football is a game for gentlemen played by hooligans, and rugby union is a game for hooligans played by...
'Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji's Olympic Dream', by Ben Ryan - Review
When I picked this book up, I already loved it -- or at least I loved the idea of it: heroic sporting underdogs, a new coach with nothing in common with his players, and the forging of an indestructible bond of comradeship, all topped off by success...
'Stories of the Law and How It's Broken', by the Secret Barrister - Review
'The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers,' says Dick the Butcher in Henry VI, Part II. Mostly, this has been written off by literature undergraduates and fridge magnet makers as a joke at the expense of one of the oldest professions; but there's...
Technology Is Invading Our Homes
Screens dominate - and houses are no longer the sanctuaries they once wereHow we love our homes: we make them cosy and secure, protected from the outside world, defended by locks, bolts and burglar alarms. But we haven't always had our own private dwellings,...
Television: The World Cup
Even though I don't watch much football I love the World Cup because it's my passport to total freedom. I can nip off to the pub, slob indoors on a sunny Sunday afternoon, leave supper before we've finished eating, let alone before the dishes are done....
The 100 Best Novels in Translation by Boyd Tonkin
Boyd Tonkin is superbly qualified to compile this volume. As literary editor of the Independent, he revived that newspaper's foreign fiction prize, first won by Orhan Pamuk and his translator Victoria Holbrook. Translators are routinely undervalued....
Theatre: Genesis Inc/ Kiss Me, Kate
Listen to the crowd. I often delay passing judgment on a show until the audience delivers its verdict. This is especially true of plays that appeal primarily to women. Genesis Inc. by Jemma Kennedy presents us with two infertile mums. Serena is a clingy...
The Dream of Driverless Cars Is Dying
Billions have been invested but autonomous vehicles will not be on a road anytime soonI was worried that going to the autonomous vehicle exhibition in Stuttgart would be tantamount to an atheist walking into St Peter's while the Pope was conducting a...
'The Great Level', by Stella Tillyard - Review
Seven years ago Stella Tillyard, a successful historian of the 18th century, broke into historical fiction with Tides of War. This historically faithful and scrupulously detailed Napoleonic saga was thought in some quarters to have met its period's gold...
The Listener: Lily Allen's No Shame
Grade: B+Here we go again, then, I thought -- another gobbet of self-referential, breast-beating respec' me bro sputum against a backdrop of the usual overproduced r&b pop schlock. What used to be called 'indie' singer-songwriters are always moaning...
'The Race to Save the Romanovs: The Truth Behind the Secret Plans to Rescue Russia's Imperial Family', by Helen Rappaport - Review
The true tragedy of the last Romanovs was a failure of imagination. Both during his last disastrous months in office and throughout the slowly unfolding catastrophe of his imprisonment, Nicholas II failed to conceive of how quickly the world around him...
'The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: A Twentieth Century History', by David Edgerton - Review
David Crane follows the deterioration of postwar Britain in the face of fast-growing foreign competitionIt seems somehow symptomatic of David Edgerton's style as a historian, of a certain wilful singularity, that even his book's title requires explanation....
'The Shepherd's Hut', by Tim Winton - Review
Tim Winton's novel about a journey of teenage male self-discovery is raw, brutal and merciless. You need to be familiar with Australian vernacular to appreciate the first-person narration by the young protagonist who says he is 17 but is thought to be...
The 'Stop Trump' Blimps
What do Britain's protesters think they're going to achieve by insulting the President?Last summer, the crowds in the fields at Glastonbury Festival filmed themselves chanting 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn'. It was the fashionable political statement of the summer....
The Turf: Robin Oakley
Let's get the crowing over first. The returns from our Twelve to Follow over jumps last season were somewhere well south of disappointing but for those who kept faith the Flat season is bringing handsome recompense. Almost immediately, Hugo Palmer's...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
The behavioural scientist Dan Ariely once found himself chatting to a locksmith with a curious problem. The better he became at replacing locks, the less he got paid. In the early days, he explained, he might wrestle for hours with a jammed lock, but...
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.