Neil Rathmell – writer

100+ essays on literary topics

The literary case for Britain to stay in the EU

There is nothing in the founding documents of the European Union about ever closer literary union. But if there were, even if that were the only kind of union proposed, … Continue reading

April 27, 2016 · 3 Comments

Based on a story by…

If Shakespeare were alive now he would have been obliged to advertise his new play as being based on a story by Robert Greene. He would also have needed Greene’s … Continue reading

April 13, 2016 · Leave a comment

Listening to Samuel Beckett

All That Fall was the first of the six short plays that Samuel Beckett wrote for radio. It was commissioned by the BBC and was first broadcast on the Third … Continue reading

March 30, 2016 · Leave a comment

How Walt Whitman invented the movies

The model for Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself is Solomon’s Song of Songs. 1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. 2 As the lily … Continue reading

March 16, 2016 · 1 Comment

John Donne, Elizabethan poet

Our appreciation of John Donne’s poetry has been spoiled by teachers who tell us that he was one of ‘the metaphysicals’. This goes back to something John Dryden wrote about … Continue reading

March 2, 2016 · Leave a comment

Italo Calvino

British novelist, Jeanette Winterson, on the back cover of the Penguin edition of Invisible Cities by Italian novelist, Italo Calvino, calls it ‘the book I would choose as pillow and … Continue reading

February 17, 2016 · Leave a comment

When is a play not a play?

The American writer, John Steinbeck (1902-1968), invented a new literary form which he called ‘the play novelette’. He described it as ‘a play that is easy to read or a … Continue reading

February 3, 2016 · Leave a comment

The ambiguity of Robert Browning

Robert Browning was an almost exact contemporary of Tennyson. Their writing lives began and ended, more or less, with the reign of Queen Victoria. But only one of them was … Continue reading

January 20, 2016 · Leave a comment

Going to hell with Chester Himes

The hero of Lonely Crusade, the last of the realist novels Chester Himes wrote before he created his own brand of surreal crime fiction, is not a hero until the … Continue reading

January 6, 2016 · Leave a comment

No book has ever changed my life

The claim that ‘this book will change your life’ is often made but rarely questioned. It seems to be generally accepted nowadays that reading is a ‘life-changing’ activity. I would … Continue reading

December 23, 2015 · Leave a comment