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Life of the mind

A degree of madness

Driving from Bagni di Lucca in northern Italy to London recently, using my black labrador, Marmite, as a psychoanalyst (he is good—sparing with interpretation but a deeply thoughtful listener), I had two audiobooks on the go. In the first, Alice Hoffman’s Illumination Night, published in 1987, the main character Vonny becomes agoraphobic as her estranged father refuses to contribute to her son’s medical bills and her husband begins an affair with a teenager. Her agoraphobia, which she tries to hide by lying, is treated with longdistance therapy and she starts to make small journeys out, building up to longer drives and then ultimate freedom and plotdriven catastrophe.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January issue: Adam Tooze and Francis Fukuyama examine the “American Century.” Tooze says that the 1917 opened the door to the future because the US seized the chance to lead, rather than for the Russian Revolution. Fukuyama says that the US has fallen from its perch, a change embodied by the election of Donald Trump. Anna Blundy puts Samuel Pepys on the couch and uses his diaries to psychoanalyse the Restoration’s chronicler. Also in this issue: Chris Bickerton examines the rise of populist parties across Europe, Peter Tatchell and Malcolm Rifkind debate whether the Uk should stop pretending Trump’s US can be its best friend, Philip Collins reviews a collection of Brexit books and DJ Taylor examines Alan Bennett’s diaries.