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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General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

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He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
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Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

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Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

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Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
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Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

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Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

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Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

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Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

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'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

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UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power