Arts and Entertainment The loss of happiness: Giacomo Leopardi

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

Tim Lott: Like it or not, we've just lived through a week we won't forget

Empty skies and Cleggmania were bolts from the blue. What do they presage?

First Night: University Challenge Final, BBC2

Guttenplan's star performance seals coveted trophy

Book Of A Lifetime: Letters, By Gustave Flaubert

I am, alas, to all intents and purposes, and to my eternal shame, an utterly uneducated, ignorant monoglot. I barely even speak English: I speak Essex. In my mind I sound like Daniel Barenboim delivering the Reith Lectures, or Garrison Keillor, rolling on with another Prairie Home Companion, or Seamus Heaney reciting, or Robin Lustig on the World Service, or WH Auden at the Royal Festival Hall sometime in the late 1960s. But when I speak, I sound like Joe Pasquale. I crush the language.

Cock, Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, London

A brilliant study in bisexuality

The Habit of Art, NT Lyttelton, London<br/>Cock, Royal Court Upstairs, London<br/>Public Property, Trafalgar Studio 2, London

Alan Bennett&rsquo;s hugely entertaining drama tells us much about Auden and Britten &ndash; and just a little about the playwright

John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: lives in art, By Frances Spalding

A double act in word and image

The Habit of Art, Lyttelton, National Theatre, London

Bennett the maestro returns with a multi-layered masterpiece

A very English playwright: The return of Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett stages his first play for years this month, at the National Theatre. Paul Taylor, who has met him many times, looks at how the butcher's son from Leeds became Britain's best loved playwright, and tries to unravel his complex personality

The Truth About Love, Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House

Four talented Jette Parker Young Artists, three song cycles, one very familiar canvas – life, love, loss. The devisor and director of this somewhat overcooked confection, Jose Dario Innella, subtitled it "Dramatic ruminations over Schumann, Britten, and Ebel song cycles" and therein lay the problem: too much rumination. Directed to within an inch of its life, the title – The Truth About Love - is drawn from the most familiar of Britten’s Cabaret Songs whose stanzas are scattered like discarded one-liners throughout the evening

The Truth About Love, Royal Opera House, London

Four talented Jette Parker Young Artists, three song cycles, one very familiar canvas – life, love, loss. The devisor and director of this somewhat overcooked confection, Jose Dario Innella, subtitled it “Dramatic ruminations over Schumann, Britten, and Ebel song cycles” and therein lay the problem: too much rumination. Directed to within an inch of its life, the title – The Truth About Love - is drawn from the most familiar of Britten’s Cabaret Songs whose stanzas are scattered like discarded one-liners throughout the evening.

Bennett and Gambon to form dream team

Alan Bennett, arguably Britain's greatest living playwright, is to team up with Michael Gambon, one of the best actors of a generation, in the National Theatre's new season.

'Shrine' set up for doomed postbox

A doomed postbox due to be removed by Royal Mail has been turned into a shrine by Bristol residents mourning its impending loss.

Peter Davidson: In the changing of the light we glimpse the true meaning of 'north'

The more you think about the word "north" the more that it seems a term which will always be relative. There are always other norths beyond the north you inhabit, until eventually you come to the unnegotiable north of the icecaps and the pole. Proverbially "north" is an unstable idea, an idea that moves away from you, eludes you. "North" is so often "north of here", receding and shifting and passing out of reach. North is so often north of where you stand. Of all geographical terms, it is the most personal, the most emotional, the most elusive. And the one which evokes perhaps the most powerful feelings.

Boyd Tonkin: Time to gather the daring books of May

The Week In Books

Is this the end of the line for trainspotters?

Rail enthusiasts face ban from platforms
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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen