Name the days: Holy Spirits

Marina Warner, 4 February 2021

The strangeness of such religious material again and again makes it incomprehensible that such figures should be considered holy, but if you look instead at their adventures as a remedy for the drudgery,...

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In this febrile yet curiously static environment of competing claims on our subjecthood and sympathy, we could all do with bearing in mind Wollstonecraft’s distinction between real and affected sentiment....

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The Bergoglio Smile: The Francis Papacy

Colm Tóibín, 21 January 2021

It’s easy to see why Bergoglio would have been selected for early promot­ion by the Jesuits and then by the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires and then by the Papal Conclave. He exudes authority...

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Cynical Realism: Supreme Court Biases

Randall Kennedy, 21 January 2021

Although anxiety about the court is spreading, there is little chance that major reforms – the end of life tenure, for instance, or substantial enlargement of the number of justices – will...

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Short Cuts: The Classic Apocalypse

Nick Richardson, 7 January 2021

The​ end of the world has always been nigh. The ancient Assyrians, nearly five thousand years ago, expected it to arrive any minute. Tenth-century Christians thought it would come in 1000,...

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Short Cuts: RBG’s Big Mistake

Frederick Wilmot-Smith, 8 October 2020

Should Trump’s nominee be confirmed, the Supreme Court will shift to the right, probably far to the right, and will remain there for a generation. Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes the lion’s share...

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Bats on the Ceiling: The Gospel of St Karen

James Lasdun, 24 September 2020

Certainly one wants at times to shake off this clammy individual, to say: pah, sociopath, case closed, not interesting. But something about this artful, artless wife-of-Jesus scheme of his, spreading out...

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Whatever Made Him: The Bauman Dichotomy

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 10 September 2020

Do we need biographies of public intellectuals? Is knowledge about a scholar’s life relevant to an understanding of their work? The Polish-Jewish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman thought not, and sedulously...

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Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley, 16 July 2020

The poet​ and songwriter Sydney Carter – remember ‘Lord of the Dance’? – wasn’t the only observer to notice that the 1950s British folk song revival was being...

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Cultural conservatives aren’t trying to protect language from politics; they are simply sanguine about the politics that language already has. 

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It isn’t wholly fanciful to envisage an aggressive Parliament determining that a judge who has stood up to the government on an issue of legal principle has failed to behave well, and using its majority...

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Becoming homeless is easily done

David Renton, 7 May 2020

Early on it became clear that millions of workers were employed on contracts their employers regarded as temporary. Employers were perfectly willing to dismiss these workers, in some cases even refusing...

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Twelve years after she published The Second Sex in 1949 she was still receiving letters from women who told her that it had ‘saved me’; psychiatrists, she heard, gave it to their patients....

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Surplusage! Walter Pater

Elizabeth Prettejohn, 6 February 2020

Few authors​ of such historical importance have so high a proportion of their writings forgotten or neglected as Walter Pater. I used to think his essays on ancient sculpture the least studied...

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Short Cuts: Life on Licence

Harry Stopes, 19 December 2019

The game, for four players, begins with their release from prison. One character is released to his own home, two to a hostel, one to homelessness. ‘We had a lot of discussion about how much to factor...

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Autumn in Paris: Autumn in Paris

Musab Younis, 5 December 2019

On​ 11 October, Julien Odoul, an official from the Rassemblement National, formerly the Front National, interrupted a French regional council session to ask a woman in the audience either to...

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Wittgenstein wasn’t particularly impress­ed by Bertrand Russell’s adoration. If his philosoph­ical capacities were as exceptional as Russell seemed to think, then this was a curious...

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Thriving on Chaos: After al-Baghdadi

Patrick Cockburn, 21 November 2019

For a brief, astonishing period, this reborn caliphate governed, in brutal but well-organised fashion, a population of ten million, claiming divine inspiration in its pursuit of true Islamic principles....

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