Arts and culture

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in 2013, is coming back to life – on television. A new Spanish-language series, from Sony Pictures Television, recounts how Chavez rose from obscurity to carry out a socialist revolution in his homeland. But even before hitting the airwaves, the series, called El Comandante, has sparked controversy – because it shows how Chavez set the stage for Venezuela's current crisis.

Ayelet Waldman is a real handful; as people would have said once upon a time in my old New York neighborhood, "she's got a mouth on her."

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At first glance, the snapshots featured on look like any other ordinary selfies. People are smiling, dancing, juggling or striking a yoga pose. But if you move the mouse over an image, the background switches to black-and-white stills showing scenes of Nazi concentration camps. Suddenly, the pictures become profoundly disturbing. People are pictured dancing on corpses or juggling in mass graves.

I would argue that the most successful novel of the First World War is not A Farewell to Arms, or even All Quiet on the Western Front, but rather one that's rarely classified so: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Like several other British veterans of the trenches — CS Lewis and David Lindsay come to mind — Tolkien chose to explore the inhuman horrors of the Great War through the allegory of mythology. In fiction, poetry, or memoir, he never explicitly addressed his time on the Somme.