John Carey
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Reviews I have written recently, appearing in the Sunday Times.

In Montparnasse: The Emergence of Surrealism in Paris from Duchamp to Dali by Sue Roe — dancing naked with ocelots: The surrealists thought they were revealing dark truths — they were wrong (10 June 2018)

Making Oscar Wilde by Michèle Mendelssohn — where he got his wit from: The nightmarish 1882 US tour that turned Oscar Wilde into a master of repartee (20 May 2018)

Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life by Edith Hall — how to be happy the philosopher’s way: The ancient philosopher Aristotle is the ideal guide to living better, says this classics professor (6 May 2018)

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray — ‘the most depressing book I have read’: None of our ideas about religion, history and humanity have any meaning, argues the bracing philosopher John Gray (22 April 2018)

Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control by Barbara Ehrenreich: Mindfulness and positive thinking are on a par with ‘magic’, claims a forceful study (1 April 2018)

In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter, Annabella Milbanke & Ada Lovelace by Miranda Seymour: A masterful portrait looks at the effect Byron had on his wife and daughter (11 March 2018)

Civilisations: How Do We Look? & The Eye of Faith by Mary Beard: Mary Beard’s view of civilisation is hampered by political correctness (4 March 2018)

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker: Steven Pinker says we should all just cheer up — humanity has never had it so good (18 February 2018)

Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington: An obsessive quest to uncover the owl’s many dark secrets is recounted with sharp-eyed wisdom (11 February 2018)

In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by Fiona Sampson: If we see another literary biography this year as perceptive as Fiona Sampson’s account of Mary Shelley and the making of Frankenstein, we’ll be fortunate (7 January 2018)

Writer’s Luck: A Memoir: 1976-1991 by David Lodge: His novels are full of wild imaginings, but David Lodge, this memoir reveals, has many regrets about his own timidity (31 December 2017)

Revenge: A Short Enquiry into Retribution by Stephen Fineman: ‘Getting even is a basic urge, argues this study, but it is too often ugly and senseless (17 December 2017)

The Uncommon Reader: A Life of Edward Garnett by Helen Smith: ‘He made me an author,’ Joseph Conrad said of Edward Garnett, one of the most influential men in modern literature (19 November 2017)

The Written World: How Literature Shaped History by Martin Puchner: A breathtaking survey of how writing has developed over the past 5,000 years (12 November 2017)

The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff: An exploration of the forces that shaped the writer who has been called a ‘bloody racist’ and the pioneer of modernism (15 October 2017)

The Letters of Sylvia Plath edited by Peter K Steinberg and Karen V Kukil: Sylvia Plath’s deep anxieties were there from the start, these letters show (1 October 2017)

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time by Hilary Spurling: A fond biography of Anthony Powell tries to defend him from charges of privilege  (24 September 2017)

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt: A fascinating investigation into the origins of the story of Adam and Eve  (3 September 2017)

Every Third Thought: On Life, Death and the Endgame by Robert McCrum: Seeing young people run is ‘almost unbearable’: the clear-sighted confessions of an ageing writer  (27 August 2017)

Gainsborough: A Portrait by James Hamilton: Libidinous, volatile, Thomas Gainsborough excelled at portraits of the rich and famous — but railed against the ‘confounded creatures’ he immortalised  (31 July 2017)

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Books and Birds by Alex Preston and Neil Gower: A rich gathering of the writers who have tried to capture birds on the page  (9 July 2017)

One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 by Rosemary Ashton: The stench from the Thames in the heatwave of 1858 tipped London over the edge  (2 July 2017)

Collecting the World — The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane by James Delbourgo: The slave-owning physician whose odd collection became the British Museum  (4 June 2017)