LRB Books

Collections and Selections from the ‘London Review of Books’

LRB Collections numbers 1 to 7

Rediscover classic pieces, recurring themes, and the dash the London Review of Books has cut through the history of ideas, for the past 40 years, with LRB Collections and now LRB Selections: two series of collectible volumes exclusively available at the London Review Bookshop and from our online store.

1. Royal Bodies: Writing about the Windsors

‘I used to think the interesting question was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not?’ – Hilary Mantel

Featuring: Jenny Diski, William Empson, Paul Foot, Thomas Jones, Hilary Mantel, Ferdinand Mount, Caroline Murphy, Tom Nairn, Glen Newey and Bee Wilson.

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2. Foodists: Writing about eating

‘If, as Lévi-Strauss once opined, “to eat is to fuck,” then that coconut kirsch roulade is just asking for it.’ – Angela Carter

Featuring: John Bayley, Joanna Biggs, Angela Carter, John Lanchester, James Meek, Emma Rothschild, Steven Shapin, Adam Smyth, E.S. Turner, Margaret Visser, Bee Wilson and Francis Wyndham.

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3. The Flood: Writing about rising seas

‘Soon it will be everywhere, overheard conversations with no human source. Soon we will all think it. And then it will happen.’ – Iain Sinclair

Featuring: Meehan Crist, James Davidson, Frank Kermode, James Meek, Patrick O’Brian, Iain Sinclair, Rebecca Solnit, Theo Tait, Margaret Visser, Marina Warner and Emily Witt.

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4. Four in a Bed: Writing about sex

‘Ten, no, five seconds
after coming all
over the place
too soon

I was lying there
where to put the
line-breaks in.’

– Hugo Williams

Featuring: Mary Beard, Jenny Diski, Wendy Doniger, Frank Kermode, Andrew O’Hagan, Adam Phillips, Amia Srinivasan, David Sylvester, Barbara Taylor, Hugo Williams and Mary-Kay Wilmers.

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5. Sinomania: Writing about China

‘What a European Old China Hand said had to be listened to carefully for the bits absurd enough to be repeated.’ – William Empson 

Featuring: William Empson, Isabel Hilton, Christopher Hitchens, Long Ling, Hilary Mantel, Zheng Peidi, Roy Porter, Nikil Saval, Eliot Weinberger, Sheng Yun and Slavoj Žižek.

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6. Frock Consciousness: Writing about clothes

‘I don’t know when I’ll be going, but at least now I know what I’ll be wearing.’ – Elaine Showalter

Featuring: Joanna Biggs, Anita Brookner, Angela Carter, Jenny Diski, Rosemary Hill, Anne Hollander, Kevin Kopelson, David Nasaw, Elaine Showalter, Alice Spawls and E.S. Turner.

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7. Broom, Broom: Writing about witches

‘the witches eat your book
then you
then everything’
– Rebecca Tamás

Featuring: John Bayley, Wendy Doniger, Malcolm Gaskill, Jeremy Harding, Hilary Mantel, Rosalind Mitchinson, Rebecca Tamás, Robert Tashman, Lee Palmer Wandel, Marina Warner and Leslie Wilson.

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8. The Meaninglessness of Meaning: Writing about the theory wars

‘Shall I batter the cat, and then stew
it, thus turning the cru to the cuit?
And when I am had up for cru-
elty, plead it was only écrit?’
– Penny McCarthy

Featuring: Pierre Bourdieu, Brigid Brophy, Judith Butler, Terry Eagleton, Frank Kermode, Penny McCarthy, Richard Rorty, Lorna Sage, Adam Shatz, John Sturrock, Sherry Turkle and Michael Wood.

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LRB Selections 1: Frank Kermode

‘Papers speak through their writers. And of all the London Review’s writers Frank Kermode was the one through whom we spoke most often and most eloquently.’ – Mary-Kay Wilmers

Without Frank Kermode there would have been no London Review of Books. In July 1979, during the management lock-out at the Times, he wrote an article in the Observer calling for a new magazine to fill the gap left by the Times Literary Supplement. The first issue of the LRB appeared three months later. One of the reviews in it was by Kermode, of a book on popular millenarianism. Nearly 250 pieces would follow over the next thirty years, on subjects ranging from Paul de Man to Muriel Spark, from Empson and the Renaissance to Jesus and sex. Here, for his centenary, are 18 of the best, with a new introduction by Michael Wood, an afterword by Mary-Kay Wilmers and a cover by Jon McNaught.

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