Short Cuts: ‘Parallel Lives’

Tom Crewe, 2 April 2020

Dickens offers a ‘fine example of how not to end a marriage’. The Carlyles made their marriage a ‘spectacle we in later days can witness, with resolutions and tensions we can participate...

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Brandenburg-Prussian Power

Abigail Green, 19 March 2020

Some saw the collapse of the German Empire as a decisive and traumatic break in the historical continuity of the state. Nothing, in Christopher Clark’s view, more profoundly exemplified this revolt...

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Rehabilitating Nero

Michael Kulikowski, 19 March 2020

Three​ centuries after the death of the emperor Nero, his name had become a byword for the very worst kind of ruler. For Ausonius of Bordeaux, in his didactic poem the Caesares, Nero was a...

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At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill, 20 February 2020

We had a rag at Monico’s. We had a rag at the Troc,And the one we had at the Berkeley gave the customers quite a shock.Then we went to the Popular, and after that – oh my!I wish...

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Inclined to Putrefaction: In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque, 20 February 2020

The plague meant that life was interrupted by barriers: the walls of the home, the waxed sheet between lay person and priest, the otherworldly beak worn by the plague doctor as he dosed patients with medicine.

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So many ships and fleets and armies

N.A.M. Rodger, 6 February 2020

There​ can scarcely be a subject about which more books have been written than the Second World War, and yet surprisingly few of them risk a synthesis of the whole. Many writers refer to the war...

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Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

Elated by the triumph of the indomitable human spirit, we leave the theatre chastened and consoled rather than ready to jump off a cliff. Nothing, it seems, is more life-affirming than watching a bunch...

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Emigrés on the Make

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 6 February 2020

Perhaps Soviet dissent was always less remarkable as an actual political movement in the domestic context than for the magnified reflection it gained in international media.

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Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn, 23 January 2020

As he lay on his deathbed at Yuste, Charles seemed to have found an unaccustomed ease: dying monarchs were more often to be found scrabbling remorsefully to make peace with their subjects and their maker....

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C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill, 23 January 2020

In​ 2000 Christopher Sansom took a year off from his job as a solicitor to write a novel: it had occurred to him that the dissolution of the monasteries might make a good backdrop to a murder...

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Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade, 23 January 2020

Ray Strachey​ is remembered, if at all, for The Cause, her history of the women’s movement, published in 1928. But reading that book – which is dedicated to Strachey’s friend...

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The​ problem presented by Troy: Myth and Reality at the British Museum is not so much the myth as the reality (until 8 March). Troy was a tiny city in what is now the northwestern corner of...

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Red Clydeside

Jean McNicol, 2 January 2020

An article published in the Times just after the 1922 election suspiciously lists some of the things organised by the Independent Labour Party: ‘Socialist study circles, socialist...

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Pevsner's Hertfordshire

Gillian Darley, 2 January 2020

The volumes​ of the Buildings of England series initiated by Nikolaus Pevsner unsurprisingly confine themselves to buildings and their settings, but it’s tempting to be distracted by what...

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At the Ashmolean: Pompeii

Christopher Siwicki, 2 January 2020

The​ excellent exhibition Last Supper at Pompeii at the Ashmolean (until 12 January) is about much more than what Pompeians had for dinner. A fresco that once decorated the lararium (the shrine...

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'The Pillow Book'

Rivka Galchen, 2 January 2020

The​ Pillow Book was written in Japan more than a thousand years ago. Little is known about its author, Sei Shonagon, save for what can be deduced from the text itself. In 993, when she was in...

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One of the few​ facts of American history of which Donald Trump appears to be aware is that George Washington owned slaves. Trump mentioned this in 2017 as one reason for his opposition to the...

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Charlemagne

Charles West, 9 December 2019

When​ Charlemagne, king of the Franks, planned the division of his empire between his sons in 806, he allotted Aquitaine, Gascony, Provence and half of Burgundy to one son; Lombardy, Bavaria...

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