Alexandra Aikhenvald draws on a lifetime of fieldwork to explore themes of language in her new book.

There must be a German word for the tendency to wonder if another language has a more succinct expression for the feeling or state we’re failing to fu(...)

Jean-Paul Sartre in Paris in 1966. Photograph: Dominique Berretty/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the most famous atheists of the 20th century, left his unbelief aside – at least tempor(...)

 French singer and actor Juliette Greco performs in Paris, in 1968. She was the muse of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the link between often impenetrable intellectuals and popular song. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

Saint-Germain-des-Prés must have felt like the centre of the universe in the aftermath of the second World War. After years of deprivation, French you(...)

Philosopher Édouard Glissant defended one’s right ‘to be opaque’, or to lack transparency and avoid  categorisation by oppressors. Photograph: Jean-Marc Zaorski/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Western philosophy has had two broad strategies for dealing with racism. One is to wave away hate speak and prejudice as “of its time”. The other is t(...)

British author JK Rowling has again been accused of being transphobic  after taking issue with a headline on an online article discussing ‘people who menstruate’. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

JK Rowling has said she was partly motivated to speak out about transgender issues because of her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Th(...)

Biographies: Simone de Beauvoir and Samuel Beckett. Photographs: Francis Apesteguy/Getty and Jehle/Uullstein Bild via Getty

Deirdre Bair, who as an unknown writer half a century ago scored a coup by getting the reclusive Samuel Beckett to agree to let her write his biograph(...)

Socrates found that his philosophical way of life ‘gave him courage’, says Prof Paul O’Grady. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There is a philosophical saying for every occasion, and right now a bit of Stoicism seems apt. “Cease worrying about things which are beyond the powe(...)

The builders are teed up to start work the second we get the keys. Photograph: Getty Images

We swore we’d never renovate again, but to get the location and space we wanted, we’ve had to go for a fixer-upper. We’re knocking walls, re-routing p(...)

Sue Rainsford: Has a knack for writing bracing, off-kilter realities with strong feminist overtones.

“He’d tell me how he mixed my parts together and planted me inside of a sack. He tied it shut with a rope and then lowered me down during a thundersto(...)

When we meet in London, Sheila O’Donnell has just won Woman Architect of the Year at the Royal Institute of British Architects awards. Earlier th(...)

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