Notebook

Classics in the cul-de-sacs

Our cities are so saturated in the mythology of the ancient world that classical allusions pop up in unexpected places.

The Sahara by armchair

Reading the Andalusian Arab writer al-Bakri is to go on a magnificent journey through harsh deserts and lands rich in gold watched over by quixotic local rulers.

Great Books: ‘Voss’ by Patrick White

Inspired by the deserts of his homeland Australia, Patrick White mastered a unique and unsparing prose which continues to resonate with writers the world over.

Fear and loathing in East Anglia

The deceptive tranquility of Norwich’s Mousehold Heath was the setting for the first documented case of the anti-semitic ‘blood libel’ myth.

The tragedy of the Trump circus

Hollywood liked Trump and helped make him. Then he became President. Can entertainment and politics be restored to their proper place?

On Richelieu’s cats

In his pets, the Cardinal found liberation from the toils of statecraft. Those care-free animals envy not man’s restraints.

Nijinsky’s last dance

The great dancer Vaslav Nijinsky’s astonishing revival after decades of madness ranks as one of the most mysterious events in art – he found it in himself to have one last dance.

The Black Ditch lives

To follow the course of London’s ancient rivers is to take a journey through centuries of history.

The shadow of 1912: history points to a GOP split

The shadow of 1912 hangs heavily over today’s Republican party. The Republicans lost out to the Democrats after Theodore Roosevelt continued to campaign on a ‘Progressive’ ticket although he had been beaten in the primaries by incumbent President William Howard Taft.

The many meanings of Georgia O’Keeffe

We should take inspiration from Georgia O’Keeffe’s high-minded approach to art and morality. Her life story is a lesson in the importance of deeply felt principles.

Why we make lists

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to endless list-making and tally-counting. History shows us that this is a fundamental human need.

Painting by numbers

The fortunes and friendships of Maurice Princet – mathematician and ‘godfather’ of Cubism – testify to the enduring link between art and abstraction.

The lost allure of alchemy

Alchemy embraces a sophisticated set of beliefs and a high-minded cosmology, much to the chagrin of the pure rationalist.

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