Arts and Entertainment

Without question, the book that has most influenced my life has been Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. I was astonished by the outrageous pot-head humour: crazy ideas taken way beyond their normal limits. The book was a savage indictment of American racism and consumerism, it dealt with the corruption, graft and lies of politicians with Swiftian humour. I had never read anything like, then or since.

Waiting for Godot, Theatre Royal Haymarket, London<br>Time and the Conways, NT Lyttelton, London <br>Peer Gynt, Barbican, London

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are on superb, unstarry form as they breathe fresh life into Beckett's tragicomedy

My Life In Travel: Stephen Frears

'I thought Calcutta was the most exciting place in the world'

Observations: Tide is awash with new talent

The third annual High Tide theatre festival at Halesworth in Suffolk, which kicks off on 27 April for 14 days, is premiering three new plays that have been hand-picked and developed from over 650 scripts. The chosen writers – Lucy Caldwell for her second play Guardians, Jesse Weaver and Lydia Adetunji for their debut plays Muhmah and Fixer respectively – were paired up with young directors, designers and actors and given mentors to help them from the first draft through to finished, final productions.

Educated opinion - Trinity College Dublin

The latest instalment in our “Educated opinion” series: a graduate from Trinity College Dublin describes the modern outlook of a 400-year-old institution.

Richard Seaver: Publisher who fought against prudery and censorship

With the death of the celebrated American publisher Richard Seaver, a small literary mystery has been cleared up. In 1965, as editor at Grove Press – the avant garde publisher of everyone from Jack Kerouac to Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Henry Miller and the Marquis de Sade – Seaver published that minor masterpiece of masochism, Story of O, by the pseudonymous "Pauline Réage" (who was revealed in 1994 to be the French editor and journalist Dominique Aury). Equally secret was the true identity of the translator, the poetically named "Sabine d'Estrée". Now his widow and business partner, Jeanette, has confirmed that Seaver translated this book of bondage from the French, as he did 50 other titles. In 1988 the couple founded the independent publishing house Arcade, whose proud boast was that they had "brought to the North American reading public works by 252 authors from 31 different countries," and in doing so defied provincialism, prudery, censorship and social and literary convention.

Leading article: Lord of the dance

As a freshly minted United States President proved this week, a well-delivered speech can do wonders for your popularity, but if you really want to melt the public's heart, you've got to move your body on the dance floor.

Close-up: Liz Walker

Is your puppet in crisis? Meet the woman who can pull some strings

Website Of The Week: www.snipurl.com/96spt

Samuel Beckett is the only Nobel winner to appear in Wisden but Harold Pinter – dismissed for 78 on Christmas Eve – is surely the only Nobel winner with a cricket webpage. Pinter's rhythmic pauses. Reflected the game's cadences. Like cricket. His silences. As consequential as action.

Poetry in brief: Drives by Leontia Flynn

Leontia Flynn's restless second collection sets off from Belfast, the poet's hometown, for a whistle-stop tour of cities such as Rome, Paris and New York. Poems whizz by. Only four of the volume's 53 pieces go over the page; many sit comfortably in the top half of one. They are packed, in an artful, off-the-cuff manner, with quotations and paraphrases, from Louis MacNeice and Elizabeth Bishop to Dorothy Parker and the Talking Heads. Along with Flynn's fondness for the sonnet, this learning recalls the Robert Lowell of Notebook. The tone of her poetry certainly suggests a writer trading the gravitas of Ireland's elder statesmen poets for a looser, American style.

Observations: Only seat in the house

Rockaby, Samuel Beckett's poetic solo piece in which a woman rocks towards her self-inflicted death in her mother's chair, went on temporary leave before its final performance at the Young Vic last Saturday. Kathryn Hunter, still in costume, took a taxi outside the theatre for St John's Wood High Street. There, she made for the third-floor flat of Blanche Marvin, who is bed-bound after two serious operations.

You Write The Reviews: Fragments, Young Vic, London

The theatre is full. Two ushers stand in front of the empty stage. The chattering stops, and the lights go out. Two men come on stage: Khalifa Natour plays A, a depressed blind violinist, and Marcello Magni is B, an angry disabled man in a broken wheelchair. B sees the advantages of them both living together and tempts A with the corned beef and potatoes he cooks. A relates how he lost "his woman", who made him crawl on all fours and left him when he stood up: "I have always been unhappy." "Why don't you let yourself die?" B asks. "I am not unhappy enough," A responds. We see ourselves in what follows: violent, vulnerable and unable to recognise and therefore satisfy our many human needs.

Tell Me This is Normal, by Julie O'Callaghan

The demotic, funny, quiety devastating vignettes of Julie O'Callaghan seem to owe a debt to the brevity and precision of classical Chinese poetry. O'Callaghan is a Chicagoan of Irish descent who has lived in Ireland since her twenties. Selected from a 25-year publishing history, the poems of 'Tell Me This is Normal' are part verse, part dramatic monologue and wholly her own.

Edna O'Brien's latest offering has made it to the stage in full, flaming glory

Past works by Irish playwright Edna O'Brien have been censored and burned. But not her latest offering, 'Triptych'

You, the Living, (15)

Grisly graveyard humour sparkles in the gloom: Desolate, nightmarish, grey &ndash; don't miss this Swedish director's grim, great vision

E Jane Dickson: What are 'life skills' without knowledge?

Facts may be difficult to learn, but they are the building blocks of morality
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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?