Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

Francois Hollande and his then partner Valerie Trierweiler greet thousands of gathered supporters at Place de la Bastille after victory in French Presidential Elections on May, 2012

Valerie Trierweiler: Former French First Lady set to pen a tell-all book about the Francois Hollande affair and her time at the Elysee

In interviews published today, Trierweiler says she “fell from a skyscraper” when she learned that Hollande was having an affair with an actress

Wave goodbye: Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler have officially separated

End of the affair as François Hollande vows to live the single life for the rest of his Élysée term after separation from Valérie Trierweiler

President François Hollande, the man who never married, is a bachelor again.

Portfolio: Christian Jankowski reinvigorates interest in Poland's monuments with the help of champion weightlifters

Destroyed by the Second World War, and still raw from both Nazi occupation and its subsequent 45 years of Soviet rule, Warsaw is a city whose history is writ large upon its public spaces.

President François Hollande and First Lady Valérie Trierweiler

Valérie Trierweiler loses First Lady status as President Hollande confirms separation

It is understood that she refused to put her name to the declaration

Marina Ginesta: Socialist activist whose photograph became one of the most memorable images of the Spanish Civil War

When Marina Ginesta heard on 18 July 1936 that the Spanish military had risen against the country's democratically elected government, her first thought was that the army's rebellion was to stop the People's Olympiad, the alternative Olympic Games in Barcelona planned in protest against those held in Nazi Germany in the same summer. "We had no idea what was really happening, we were that innocent," Ginesta, then a member of Spain's Socialist Youth movement and helping to organise the Olympiad, recalled.

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: As it is, Ed Miliband’s language fails – another sobering Commons tale

“The press was squared / the middle class was quite prepared.” Hilaire Belloc’s words about another Prime Ministerial hopeful could have been written for Ed Miliband this week. How better to describe his article in the Daily Telegraph, no less, promising to “save the middle class”?

François Hollande's alleged mistress Julie Gayet 'blocked from arts jury'

The actress was expected to be appointed to a jury responsible for selecting state funded scholarships for the Villa Medic academy in Rome

Arthur Scargill at a public meeting in London on the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike in 2009

Former NUM leader Arthur Scargill 'tried to buy London flat under Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme'

Miners' union general secretary Chris Kitchen: 'Unfortunately the perception I had of Arthur the great trade unionist, socialist, just is nothing like the reality as to the man that I know now'

Reporters raise their hands during French President Francois Hollande's annual news conference

French President François Hollande rebuffs media on alleged affair with Julie Gayet: 'These are painful moments, but private matters should be dealt with privately'

This being France, the President escaped close inspection of his private life at a long-awaited press conference. Instead, he talked about his plan to slash state spending. John Lichfield reports from the Elysee Palace

'Anti-Semitic' comic Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala's show banned hours after Nantes court said it could go ahead

Riot police carrying shields blocked access to the Zenith theatre as supporters arrived to protest decision

The pope has a lamb put around his neck by a woman dressed as a character from the nativity scene at Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori in the outskirts of Rome

Pope Francis lambasts the rich and reminds the world of what matters most

The head of the Church makes a simple point: Modern society is putty in the hands of the wealthy

Thomas Hitzlsperger with the Germany team

Thomas Hitzlsperger gay: The reaction in Germany after former Aston Villa player comes out

The former midfielder, who was capped 52 times by Germany, has received widespread support

Mr Hollande is accused of abandoning his 'anti-finance' election promises

Francois Hollande makes drastic U-turn on tax cuts and welfare in bid to save presidency

President says he  is ready to axe the ‘excesses and abuses’ of France’s social model

Awkward positioning: Francois Hollande goes for a handshake with Austrian President Heinz Fischer but misses the target

Let’s (not) shake on it! Pictures of international snubs prove François Hollande’s popularity problem

Images add insult to ignominy for the man who polls suggest is now the most unpopular French president in history

France approves Francois Hollande's 75% 'millionaire tax'

Constitutional council says super tax on salaries above €1 million is legal

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on