On the Mantel piece
At last. An intelligent and lucid piece about Diana. (“The princess myth”, 26 August). Hilary Mantel’s writing is as crystal clear and as piercingly lethal as broken glass. Marvellous. And hilariously funny as well.
Pam Otto From Facebook A profound admixture of forensic historical analysis and rich psychological insight. After 35 years we have some sense about this sad woman and the creation that she was. Thank you, Hilary Mantel.
Neil Ryrie From Facebook
What an excellent analysis. Do I sense a 20th-century novel emerging from Mantel? Please though, can we have the Cromwell trilogy completed first!
Liz Coates From Facebook About time
Simon Garfield’s excellent meditation on acceleration and resistance (Reformation 2017, 2 September) is indeed “timely”. He mentions the admirable deep time project, “the clock of the long now”, in west Texas, but readers might like to know that a similarly ambitious, yet more melodious project is under way closer to home. Jem Finer’s remarkable Longplayer is performed on a 66-ft-wide orchestral instrument in a lighthouse in London’s docklands and can be heard online at longplayer.org. It is creating a 1,000-year long composition, without any use of repetition. In the frenetic scheme of life, it offers one of the more creative ways in which to reconsider one’s priorities.
Gareth Evans London Putinists and primary sources Sheila Fitzpatrick may well be piqued (Review, 26 August) by the omission of her own book from the bibliography of Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine, which describes Stalin’s starvation of the Ukrainian peasantry in the 1930s. But her insinuations about the author’s scholarship are unfair.
Putinist propagandists, like their Soviet predecessors, try to obscure criticism of Soviet crimes by claiming that the historical record is ambiguous. For that reason, Applebaum gives voluminous references to all primary sources, even when also quoting secondary ones. This is not the behaviour of an ingenue graduate student as Fitzpatrick so patronisingly asserts. It is an attempt to make bulletproof an account of mass murder that cost many millions of lives but whose existence – shockingly – is still contested by the Kremlin.
Moreover, contrary to the reviewer’s assertion that this is merely a work of “popular history” based on secondary sources, it is clear that Applebaum and her researcher have scoured the archives for primary documents, which are quoted in support of original arguments.
Professor Fitzpatrick also misreads Applebaum’s argument that the artificial famine was an act of genocide. Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term, described it as a “classic example” of the crime.
Edward Lucas London Embiggen bold
Bernard MacLaverty describes “embiggen” as “a computer word” (My working day, 26 August). Perhaps it has been embraced by the IT fraternity, but they probably got it from a 1996 episode of The Simpsons,
which quotes the motto of Springfield as: “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.” The word is thought to have been created by the show’s writers, but it seems that it appeared as a neologism in 1884, in a scholarly journal called Notes and Queries. At that time it evidently did not catch on.
Stuart Handysides Ware, Herts
Comic book Corbyn
Further to the news that Jeremy Corbyn is going to be the subject of a new comic book anthology (The week in books, 26 August). In fact there is a precedent for this. When he was Labour prime minister, James Callaghan featured in Marvel UK’s Captain Britain series in the late 1970s, even appearing in cartoon form on the cover of issue 23. The plot involved Callaghan being captured by the Red Skull and being rescued by Captain Britain with help from Captain America.
GrowlerRob From the website
BAKING WITH KAFKA, ILLUSTRATION BY TOM GAULD. TOM GAULD’S NEW BOOK OF CARTOONS,