Neil Rathmell – writer

150+ essays on literary topics

Author Archives: Neil Rathmell

Lies, damned lies and novels

“Our societies evolve and revolve around stories.” So says Alex von Tunzelmann, writing in Prospect magazine (April 2022) about the British monarchy. “They define our identities and norms, bond us … Continue reading

March 7, 2022 · Leave a comment

Lies, damned lies and novels

Stories are part of what makes us human because part of being human is the habit, good or bad, of telling lies.

March 7, 2022 · Leave a comment

A frustrated singer

“A frustrated singer should be content to be a frustrated singer; he shouldn’t try to become a singer of marsias.” In other words, a writer should not attach himself to any political or religious group and become their writer. Singers should sing their own songs and, if they are prevented from doing so, should accept their fate and remain silent.

January 31, 2022 · Leave a comment

How to read a play

We are encouraged to believe, wrongly I think, that a play must be seen to be appreciated. To read a play, we are told, is to miss most of what … Continue reading

December 27, 2021 · 1 Comment

Pay what you can afford

We are often exhorted to work on our physical forces by walking or cycling or working out in the gym. But it is not only British bodies that have grown obese, the same thing has happened to British imaginations.

October 27, 2021 · 1 Comment

Lord, what fools these normal people be!

Young people take themselves too seriously. It’s part of growing up and easy for grown-ups to make fun of.

September 12, 2021 · Leave a comment

Making it up

Each new novel is the start of another phone call from a scammer.

August 29, 2021 · Leave a comment

Shakespeare the realist

Shakespeare could always see the funny side. His first comedy, A Comedy of Errors, was based on Menaechmi (The Twins) by the Roman playwright, Plautus, the Ben Elton of ancient … Continue reading

August 16, 2021 · Leave a comment

A poem by R.S.Thomas

Fishing, not one of R.S.Thomas’s best known poems, but one of his best, begins prosaically but thoughtfully with a long sentence that runs to eight lines of verse. Sometimes I … Continue reading

May 23, 2021 · 1 Comment

In the beginning were the words

There are certain words and phrases that are so closely linked to a particular source that the association is never lost. Such words and phrases must be used cautiously, if … Continue reading

May 4, 2021 · Leave a comment