Notebook

When artists retrain

The fine hand of the artist and the musician has gone a long way for some of history’s great and terrible figures.

The medieval mobile home

‘Home is homely, though it be poore in sight,’ wrote J.Heywood in 1546. Heywood is an obscure author but many people today will agree with him, having

Alexander Mosaic (detail), House of the Faun, Pompeii

Like so many Alexanders

Few historical figures have left such a lasting impression on such a variety of cultures as Alexander the Great.

Good poetry in a crisis

Seamus Heaney’s poems are a valuable, moving register of individual intimacy and national pain.

On the art of metallurgy

Georgius Agricola’s De Re Metallica gives us a fascinating insight into the late medieval view of metal and its uses.

The enduring spirit of cricket

Cricket was one of the few sports that was played near-normally this summer – its modern form is a welcome emblem of global connection.

The demon of the house

The pandemic has forced us all to live more wholesome lives, but some danger still exists between the pages of the novel.

Waugh’s war

Evelyn Waugh’s humour is sparkling and amusing, but with its anti-authority jibes and social commentary it is more than just a light laugh.

Essaying a genre

The classical essay – with all its ease, polished prose, and trivial subjects – is a medium we would do well to re-capture.

That was once upon a time

The folkloric atmosphere suggested by a title like Once Upon a Time in Iraq a landmark documentary on the long catastrophe of Saddam’s atrocities, the US-led

Milton vs the echo chamber

Milton would have been very active on Twitter. In 1644 – at the height of the English Civil War – he wrote Areopagitica: a polemic prose treatise

Portrait of man in a shawl

The Ettrick Shepherd stands watch

The pioneers of Enlightenment believed a new spirit of human sympathy could provide a lasting basis for political association – the Ettrick Shepherd James Hogg satirized that ethic in grand style.

First orders please

On Saturday, pubs re-opened in England. It was a day politicians had dubbed ‘super Saturday’, although much of the press hailed it ‘sardine Saturday’. A

Crowded city scene from the nineteenth century

Crowded out

In an era of social distancing, the city is stripped of its landscape of adventure and danger, its quality of ‘sheer life’.

Any old way you use it

What do Dolly Parton, U2, and Woodie Guthrie have in common? Respectively, each artist has had a song used on the American Presidential campaign trail:

The limits of scientism

The mantra ‘following the science’ has become a commonplace of the coronavirus vocabulary. And indeed, social distancing represents a virtually unparalleled opportunity for scientists to

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