All Features

Goodbye, Chauvinism: A First World War Primer

by James Heartfield

With the UK government gearing up to mark the forthcoming 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Conservative education secretary Michael Gove caused a minor media storm by claiming that anti-war accounts of the conflict were an insult to those who served in it, calling for a more ’patriotic’ version to be taught instead. He was roundly slapped down. As James Heartfield explains, Gove’s sentimentalism is entirely misplaced. [read full essay]

Imitation Modernism: An Interview with Perry Meisel

by Katie Da Cunha Lewin

Perry Meisel is a professor of English at New York University. He has written and lectured for over 40 years and is a prominent thinker in critical theory. Primarily researching structuralism, his work tackles a disparate range of subjects, from pop culture and Henry James, to rock & roll and the popular television show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. His most recent book is The Myth of Popular Culture: From Dante to Dylan. [read full interview]

It Is What It Isn't! A Defence of Dialectic

by John P. Clark

There is no philosophical concept more commonly misused, misinterpreted or misunderstood than that of dialectic. At the same time, there are few that can match its significance. Dialectics sit at the heart of Hegelianism, they are the pivot around which Marxism turns and their roots stretch back to the first principles of Buddhist and Daoist thought. John P. Clark writes an articulate defence of the form, explaining its nuances and arguing that only through a truly dialectical social theory can we hope to challenge the contradictions of late capitalism. [read full essay]

Small is Beautiful: In Defence of Independent Publishing

by Robin Baird-Smith

The figures would suggest the book industry is doing well, but that seems to be mainly down to sales of cookbooks and ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. Lively, independent presses are still out there, but they are increasingly few and far between. From the initial influx of American capital in the 1970s to today’s myriad mergers and ‘fusions' Robin Baird-Smith reflects on how 40 years of brazen commercialism has squeezed independent publishers almost entirely out of the picture. [read full essay]

Confessions of a Lapsed Leavisite

by David Stubbs

The influential academic and literary critic FR Leavis has cast a long shadow over English literature. Looking back over his own student years, David Stubbs recalls being wowed by Leavis's brilliance and passion, while also being exasperated by his withering disdain for the popular culture of the post-war era. [read full essay]

The Brixton Bard: An Interview with Alex Wheatle

by Farzana Rahman

Alex Wheatle’s novels explore the themes of racism, poverty, youth unemployment and discrimination with confidence and nuance. His most recent novel, Brenton Brown, was published by Arcadia in 2011. Frazana Rahman asked Alex to discuss some of his thoughts on ‘black British writing'. [read full interview]

Things to Make and Use: On Beauty, Design and Work

by Jeffrey Petts

Visiting London’s annual Design Festival, Jeffrey Petts contrasts the utopian aspirations of 21st-century design and architecture – from bathroom taps and 3D printers to the city’s new tall buildings – with an ‘arts and crafts’ view of 'soul-making' work, an idea reinvigorated for urban living in a recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. [read full essay]

Subversive At All Times: An Interview with Emma Wright

by Tom Cutterham

Emma Wright quit her day-job in publishing to start a poetry press, The Emma Press, which published its first volume, The Flower and the Plough, earlier this year. With an Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse launched on 26 September, Wright's project is picking up steam. We spoke to her about ambitions, aesthetics, and the elusive ground of the 'mildly erotic.' [read full interview]

Peace - or Palestinian Surrender? An Interview with Norman Finkelstein

by Matt Hill

Norman G. Finkelstein is a man of contradictions. He is the Brooklyn-born son of concentration camp survivors who has enraged American Jews by denouncing the cynicism of what he calls the 'Holocaust industry'. He is a polemicist and inveterate contrarian who demolishes his opponents by scouring footnotes and soberly checking facts. In this wide-ranging interview with Review 31 to mark the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Finkelstein turns his fire on the 'silly, sectarian, cultist politics' of the pro-Palestinian movement and defends Israel’s right to a peaceful existence as part of a two-state settlement. At the same time, he pulls no punches on the revived 'peace process', dismissing it as an attempt to impose a 'historic defeat' on the Palestinians. [read full interview]

'We’re British - There’s No Cure For That': An Interview with Lars Iyer

by Marc Farrant

Lars Iyer is a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he is one of the country's foremost Maurice Blanchot scholars. He is also the real-life embodiment of the fictionalised narrator 'Lars' in his trilogy comprising the novels Spurious (2010), Dogma (2012) and, most recently, Exodus (2013), all published by Melville House. Here, he discusses the destitution of academic life under the conditions of contemporary neoliberal society; the exhaustion of thought and thinking; the relation between literature and philosophy; and what it means to be British and attempt to think. [read full interview]