Writer and philosopher whose work, beginning with ‘The Outsider’, searched for the meaning of man’s existence

They bear menaces rather than gifts - but new Labour is welcoming their ideas

THE NEW ESTABLISHMENT: Day eight: Think-tanks

Letter: The need to fight for animal rights

Sir: Roger Scruton concludes (3 July) that animals have no rights. He is certainly at odds with some of the greatest philosophers of our time who were all concerned at mankind's brutality towards animals. To name a few: Benjamin Franklin, Gandhi, Tolstoy, Voltaire, Wordsworth, George Bernard Shaw and many more. They all happened to be vegetarian too. What is needed is a charter of animal rights.

Travel: Britain/ Ridge over untroubled water: a walk in the Malvern Hills

You don't need an anorak and climbing boots to enjoy the vast open spaces around the Malvern Hills. Much of the 3,000 acres of common land is grassy sward on the lower slopes of the nine-mile chain of hills, around which six settlements cling as if glued to the rock.

LETTER : BSE: science is doing all it can

Sir: The response from scientists and laymen to your leading article on BSE and science reminds me of the comment of that great cynic George Bernard Shaw: "Science is always wrong; it never solved a problem without creating ten more."

Silk tie and silver tongue

Lynne Curry meets the man who has brought a touch of elegance to IT education

Phil Hammond's

funny old ward

Doors to wisdom

DUBLINES ed Katie Donovan and Brendan Kennelly, Bloodaxe pounds 10.95

Are critics fair game for artists?

There's enough evidence to drop the charge that all critics are failed artists, says Kevin Jackson. Which will be of little comfort to the critic-cum-savaged-author, DJ Taylor, as he told Robert Hanks (below)

The labours of Hercule

David Suchet, sans moustache, talks sleuthing with James Rampton

BOOKS: All of a piece throughout

Christmas reading is often a matter of dipping into some thing light, and there is a huge range of anthologies available. Ben Rogers gives his verdict on some of the most enjoyable

'New Statesman' charter torn up

Magazine crisis: Staff told to put up or shut up as 'absentee landlord' returns to take control

TORY LEADERSHIP ELECTION: Is this the most political street in Britain?

Chris Blackhurst goes behind the closed doors of Lord North Street, whe re Michael Portillo has set up his campaign headquarters

That Shakespeare: what a character

Syphilitic and suicidal or watchful and detached? No one knows what Shakespeare was like for sure, but many playwrights have taken an educated guess.

OBITUARY : Nancy O'Neil

Petite and pretty, Nancy O'Neil was one of the many delightful ingnues who decorated British films during the 1930s. Like so many of this group, she seemed to disappear from sight once the warring 1940s began, remaining but a faded photograph in The Film Star Who's Who of the Screen. She died at the age of 87, although those same issues of the Who's Who would claim she was four years younger.

Where there's a Will there's a free-for-all

SOMEWHERE in the world the curtain rises on a Shakespeare production every 12 minutes. At least, so it was claimed in The Irresistible Rise of William Shakespeare (BBC 2), itself the curtain-raising programme of 'Bard on the Box' - a celebratory festival of Shakespeariana which seems determined to put a dent in the playwright's batting average. In a two- month season of documentaries, films, animations and readings there will be only one new production of a Shakespeare play. You can have Mel Gibson as the Dane (Mad Max, the prequel), Prue Leith cooking Elizabethan food, animated Shakespeare, plays in rehearsal and celebrities like Damon Hill and Eartha Kitt reading appropriate passages - but you won't get much Shakespeare that hasn't already been cut up into small pieces just in case you choke.
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