A Decent Death

Stephen Sedley

The wording of Section 2 of the 1961 Suicide Act, in a single blow, criminalises both assisting and encouraging a suicide by linking them with the word ‘or’. There is all the difference in the world between the two. To deliberately encourage a person to take their own life when they might otherwise not have done so will, save in the rarest circumstances, merit prosecution. To assist someone who has independently decided they want their life to end is morally and ethically quite different. But it will not necessarily be permissible because this class of case – assisting though not encouraging suicide – will cover both suicidally disturbed individuals who might desist if they are not helped to carry out their intention, and others whose rationality in wishing to exercise their right to bring unendurable suffering to an end is beyond doubt. The former class is not within the ambit of any defensible assisted dying policy. It is the latter class with which I am concerned.

 

Annie Ernaux’s Gaze

Joanna Biggs

Atthe end of the Catacombs, having walked among the bones of six million Parisians, you come to a single gravestone. Somewhere in the ossuary are the remains of Racine, Charlotte Corday, Robespierre and Montesquieu, yet the only monument is to Françoise Gillain, who, you discover, died in 1821 after spending years trying to free a writer unjustly held in the Bastille. Arriving at...

 

Aristophanes Remixed

Emily Wilson

The lush comic hip-hop of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B illustrates the core element of Old Comedy that is most often obscured in contemporary Anglophone translations – the flow. Aristophanes, like the creators of ‘WAP’, was a musician, songwriter, choreographer and poet, and his linguistic effects depend, like theirs, on the artful manipulation of rhythm and sound in words and imagery. 

 

China takes it slow

Rebecca E. Karl

InJuly 1978, Hu Qiaomu, a sociologist who was working in Deng Xiaoping’s Political Research Office, issued a dire report on the Chinese peasantry. Hu wasn’t known as a supporter of radical reform, but he nevertheless called for something to be done to mitigate the effects of the socialist industrialisation programme. Over the previous three decades China’s agricultural...

 

Ten Years in Sheerness

Patrick McGuinness

In Uwe Johnson’s work, perspective doesn’t come from a bird’s-eye view but from staying at eye level – from looking and never stopping. His characters are suspicious of any claim that there is an omniscient history.

Away with Words

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Amerikanist Dreams

Owen Hatherley

The Red Gate tower in Moscow, designed by 
Alexei Nikolayevich Dushkin and completed in 1953.

One of the more intriguing​ recent conspiracy theories centres on the putative suppression of a global ‘Tartarian Empire’, which, before it was destroyed either by the world wars or by a tidal wave of mud, went in for an opulent, gigantist architecture of domes and spires,...

 

John Craxton goes to Crete

Rosemary Hill

‘Hotel by the Sea’ (1946)

Three women,​ all in their way members of the higher bohemia, were having lunch in a London restaurant. Agnes Magruder was a grand Bostonian, ‘a character from a Henry James novel’ according to her daughter. She was known as ‘Magouche’, the name given her by the painter Arshile Gorky, with whom she had a turbulent marriage...

 

Sex with Satan

Deborah Friedell

Whatwould the young Jonathan Franzen – an acolyte of Gaddis and Pynchon who identified with Kafka – make of the novels he would go on to write? That man was determined that ‘Franzen’ should connote ‘high art’, his own portmanteau of ‘high modern’ and ‘art fiction’. For years he dedicated himself to the conspiratorial plot of the...

25-29 October

Conversations about power: who wields it, where it resides and why, with Mary Beard, Emma Cline, Adom Getachew, Mahmood Mamdani, Hilary Mantel, Adam Phillips, David Runciman, Helen Thompson and Michael Wolff.

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Encounters with Medieval Women

In a new podcast miniseries, Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley look at the lives and voices of women in medieval literature through four key texts, ranging roughly from the year 300 to 1500. The episodes will feature Mary of Egypt, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe and the Wife of Bath.

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