Alan Watts, “The Way of Zen”

THE PHILOSOPHER ALAN Watts has fallen out of fashion somewhat in the last thirty or so years, in part due to the rising skepticism in the West towards religion––though Alan Watts belonged to no faith and was more spiritual than religious––and in part due to the death of the hippie movement in the late 1970s.  […]

‘Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations’ by William F. Buckley, Jr.

SIX YEARS AFTER his death by oesophageal cancer, you still hear an awful lot about the brilliant Christopher Hitchens, the various descriptions of whom––journalist, public intellectual, ‘drink-sodden popinjay’––could probably fill this page. You hear far less about the equally prolific and many-faced journalist who gave Hitchens his first appearance on television. To a Brit the […]

“A Hero of Our Time” by Mikhail Lermontov

ONCE THE ROMANTIC poet Lord Byron had once and for all finished travelling around Europe womanising, man-ising, running up debts and dabbling in revolutions, a fashion began in literary Russia for stories which featured a very particular sort of antihero at their centre. This ‘Byronic’ hero shared the characteristics of his creator. Like Byron himself […]

‘Stories of Your Life and Others’ by Ted Chiang

IT’S ENCOURAGING TO see that Denis Villeneuve’s excellent Arrival remained in the box office top-ten for so long after its initial release, because Ted Chiang, the author of the story on which it was based, is relatively unknown outside of his field. In the admittedly small world of science-fiction short stories, it might seem vaguely ludicrous that […]

‘Captain America: Civil War’

I’M SURE YOU, like me, are beginning to feel as if a new comic-book film is released every week, and I’m sure you, like me, wouldn’t necessarily consider this is a problem if any of them were any good. I admit that I was briefly delivered of my cynicism towards superhero films by the bloody […]