Voices

The new Library of Birmingham ticks all the boxes as far as so-called landmark architecture is concerned. Designed by Mecanoo, a star international practice. Slightly wild façade. Even more dramatic central atrium, spiralling up through the building. And at the  pinnacle, a golden ark containing the city’s original 1882 Shakespeare archive room.

True Townie: Frankly we don't give a hoot for barn owls

ONE OF the most moving moments in all of Shakespeare's plays is the offstage death of Falstaff. Mistress Quickly gives us his last words: 'He babbled of green fields.' Babbling of green fields, we could say, is le vice anglais.

BBOK REVIEW / Pea soupers and the smell of Babbage: 'Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem' - Peter Ackroyd: Sinclair Stevenson, 14.99

PETER ACKROYD's new novel begins and ends with an execution. In the opening pages an ex-vaudeville artiste, Elizabeth 'Lambeth Marsh Lizzie' Cree, is hanged for the murder of her husband. At the end, her death is action-replayed on stage in a play entitled The Crees of Misery Junction. These two symmetrical scenes frame a narrative which plays relentlessly with the tensions between illusion and reality, life (or is it death?) and art.

Historic reading room must go

THE DOME of the historic Round Reading Room at the British Museum yesterday dwarfed the figures of the architect Sir Norman Foster and Dr Robert Anderson, the museum's director. The reading room, where Charles Dickens, Bernard Shaw and Karl Marx read and researched is to become an information centre and reference library as part of a pounds 100m development plan, writes David Lister.

Letter: The ghost of Marx laid to rest

NEAL ASCHERSON ('An urbane spectre', 15 May) chides Karl Marx for not being 'accurate' when he wrote in 1848 that 'the spectre of Communism is haunting Europe'. However, Marx was referring to primitive communism which had existed before social systems based on class relations. Capitalism, the last class system, had brought the forces of production to a point where a more developed communism was possible. Thus the literary use of 'haunting'.

Dear Chelsea Clinton: The next time they make their feeble jokes about you, just remember that the First Daughter always has the last laugh.

This year has been a bummer for one member of the Clinton family, and I think we all know who it is.

MUSIC / Upbeat: Growth area

TONIGHT sees the reopening of the restored Chemnitz Opera House with a new production of Wagner's Parsifal. If you haven't heard of the place, there are two good reasons: it was gutted by bombing in 1945, and the town itself, 150 miles south of Berlin, used to be called Karl-Marx-Stadt. Long over all that, it has now appointed a British music director, John Carewe, who starts a three-year contract next August. He makes his first appearance there conducting Salome on 3 January.

Obituary: Professor Tom Bottomore

Thomas Burton Bottomore, sociologist, born 8 April 1920, Reader in Sociology London School of Economics 1952-64, Professor of Sociology Simon Fraser University Vancouver 1965-67, Professor of Sociology Sussex University 1968- 85, books include Karl Marx: selected writings in sociology and social philosophy (with Maximilien Rubel) 1956, Sociology: a guide to problems and literature 1962, Elites and Society 1964, Classes in Modern Society 1965, Austro- Marxism (with P. Goode) 1978, Political Sociology 1979, A Dictionary of Marxist Thought 1981, Theories of Modern Capitalism 1985, died Ditchling East Sussex 9 December 1992.

BOOK REVIEW / Canon to the right of them, canon to the left: Daughters of Africa Ed. Margaret Busby: Jonathan Cape pounds 30

THE STRAIN of a severe case of Political Correctness Anxiety is evident in the cumbersome subtitle to this book. Only PCA could be responsible for the qualifying tag 'An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent'. Such careful definition attempts to forestall anticipated criticism from all camps.

BOOK REVIEW / On the trail of dropped names: Tom Shone on a bold attempt by Phillip Kerr to merge the hunt for a serial murderer with a taste for philosophical puzzles. 'A Philosophical Investigation' - Phillip Kerr: Chatto & Windus, 14.99 pounds

EVER SINCE we came across Dr Lecter feigning sleep on his bunk, Alexandre Dumas' Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine lying open on his chest, thriller writers have been falling over themselves to furnish their killers with the same finely-tuned aesthetic antennae as Thomas Harris's well-mannered monster in The Silence of the Lambs. The soundtrack to slaughter in Phillip Kerr's new thriller may be Schubert's Piano Trio in B flat and not the Goldberg Variations, Lecter's own favourite, but this detail is typical of the novels caught up in Harris's wake. A Philosophical Investigation is full, not so much of differences from Harris's novels as of ex-similarities - similarities that have been anxiously smudged, disguised, tweaked into differences.

When Marx played in a capital venture

SO THAT'S all right then. Communist China, where speculation in shares is running high, says Karl Marx himself was not above playing the market.

Student was raped at Karl Marx's grave

A 31-YEAR-OLD kitchen porter, Glory Kwantreng, was convicted of raping and robbing a teenage French student as she visited the grave of Karl Marx in Highgate cemetery, north London. He was remanded in custody at the Old Bailey for medical reports and will be sentenced next month.
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