Arts and Entertainment The loss of happiness: Giacomo Leopardi

This extraordinary 'mish-mash' opens up the creative workshop of Italy's great Romantic poet

Invisible Ink: No 178 - The Vanishing Fantastics

What do the following names have in common? Winston Churchill, Raymond Chandler, John Lennon, Muriel Spark, JB Priestley, F Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Daphne Du Maurier, Noël Coward?

At 65, modern Israel is falling short of Zionism's most basic goal

This was meant to be a state like any other: now it flouts international law

John Walsh: Without Aurum's help the award could not go ahead

Alice Oswald is published by Faber & Faber, whose profits were boosted for years by royalties from Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot. Eliot once worked at Lloyds Bank. Does Ms Oswald not feel sullied by the association with Lord Lloyd-Webber? Or by the evidence of Eliot's Mammon-worship?

Less Than One, By Joseph Brodsky

When Brodsky, in US exile from his native Russia, won the Nobel in 1987, he became the youngest literature laureate. But the Leningrad-born poet, critic, essayist and dissident, jailed young as a "social parasite" under Soviet law, had matured faster than most.

Album: Madeleine Peyroux, Standing on the Rooftop (Emarcy / Decca)

Her last album introduced the concept of Peyroux the full-blown auteur.

Modern manners: A complete guide to etiquette in the digital age

When John H Young published his Guide to the Manners, Etiquette and Deportment of the Most Refined Society in 1879, it became a bestseller in his native America.

Poet Gillian Clarke awarded Queen's gold medal

Acclaimed writer Gillian Clarke has been awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, Buckingham Palace announced today.

Forgotten authors No 59: Rex Warner

"Important" books can sometimes be a chore, so here is the author of a masterpiece with the pacing of a soap opera. The forgotten member of the Cecil Day-Lewis/WH Auden circle at Oxford in the 1920s, this dandyish vicar's son and disillusioned Marxist led a life packed with colour, incident and, by his own admission, lechery.

Agatha Christie: The curious case of the cosy queen

No enemy can murder Agatha Christie. From India to France, her mysteries sell by the million. As crime buffs gather in Harrogate to investigate her lasting appeal, Andrew Taylor presents his defence

Desmond Barrit: 'Im making a Habit of being Richard Griffiths

It is slightly frightening seeing a show when you know you are going to take over a role. Actors are like magpies – they pick everything up that they think is clever. Of course, you want to reinvent a role and not repeat what the previous actor did. The fact I have taken over from Richard Griffiths twice – both in The Habit of Art and The History Boys – mystifies me because we are very different.

Never say die: Who wants to live forever?

The secret of living to 100 and beyond is all in our genes, according to new research. But who really wants to survive into extreme old age – or for ever? Not me, insists John Walsh

Cultural Life: Andrea Levy, Novelist

'It doesn't feel like cinema is catering for me so mostly I get things out on DVD and watch them on my humongous television'

Say a long goodbye to the multiplex

Reports of the death of film have been greatly exaggerated. It's not the movies we've gone off, just traditional movie-houses. In their place, finds Alice Jones, are screens at festivals, in fields, car parks and sheds, and themed nights at secret locations and in private clubs

Aida, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Elegy for Young Lovers, Young Vic, London<br/>I Went to the House But Did Not Enter, Barbican Hall, London

Covent Garden's new 'Aida' is an orgy of mad make-up, bare breasts and swinging corpses...with not a pyramid in sight

Henze, Elegy for Young Lovers, English National Opera at the Young Vic

At an inn in the Austrian Alps Hilda Mack waits for her husband. 40 years ago he went climbing without, it seems, declaring that he might be some time.

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The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

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New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

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