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A Thousand Slayn

Barbara Newman: Ars Moriendi, 5 November 2020

Arts of Dying: Literature and Finitude in Medieval England 
by D. Vance Smith.
Chicago, 309 pp., £24, April, 978 0 226 64099 0
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... you read only the poetry of the late 14th century, that the Black Death had ever arrived,’ D. Vance Smith writes. There is nothing in all English literature to parallel Boccaccio’s famous account in the Decameron. Chaucer, who had read Boccaccio and witnessed at least four outbreaks, scarcely mentions the pandemic. The closest he comes is ‘The ...

Leaping on Tables

Norman Vance: Thomas Carlyle, 2 November 2000

Sartor Resartus 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Rodger Tarr and Mark Engel.
California, 774 pp., £38, April 2000, 0 520 20928 1
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... and the distinctive Scottish tradition of philosophy stemming from Francis Hutcheson and Adam Smith which had helped to produce Carlyle also represented an older and perhaps even more fundamental influence on American academic and intellectual life. Seventeenth-century Puritanism in England and America and the covenanting Calvinism of Carlyle’s ...

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