Back in the USSR?

Over the course of a few happy days not long ago (thank you, A!) I spent some time listening to the music of the Beatles and the Beachboys. Both used to give me great pleasure, but on hearing the old songs again I was struck by how much more interesting those of the Beatles are. Their music is more complex, takes more […]

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Notes on Genesis (xi)

‘Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink.’ (Gen 24:18) The task of the servant sent by Abraham to the land and tribe from which he had come to find a wife for his son Isaac turned out to be easily accomplished. Rebekah, a virgin very beautiful to behold, appeared by a well and, behaving with generosity and […]

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Thoughts on the Novel

The winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature by Orhan Pamuk in 2006 (posting 2011/06/08) adds his name to the increasingly lengthy list of laureates from non-Western countries. What’s going on here?   There may be an element of policy on the part of those who award the prize; one cannot help noticing that the ranks of female winners are expanding at […]

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Notes on Genesis (x)

‘Take now your beloved son Isaac…and offer him there as a whole burnt offering’ (Gen 22:2) The story of the ‘testing’ of Abraham by God has elicited a great deal of  comment. Some of it occurs in the New Testament, where Abraham, in his preparedness to sacrifice his son, was seen to demonstrate implicit faith in the resurrection (Heb 11:17-19) and to have […]

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Orhan Pamuk’s ‘My Name is Red’

This novel opens with the murder of a miniaturist in Istanbul late in the sixteenth century that we learn of in the words of the deceased; it is entirely told in the first person, different voices succeeding one another in a technique that is initially confusing but ultimately yields some very clever story telling. From this murder, not the last one, ripples spread that encompass different […]

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Notes on Genesis (ix)

‘Cast out this maidservant and her son’ (Gen. 21:10) The significance of Abraham’s two sons has been understood differently by the Monotheistic religions. The status of the firstborn, Ishmael, and his mother, the handmaid Hagar, was undermined by the subsequent birth of Isaac to Abraham’s wife Sarah, who prevailed upon her husband to drive Hagar and her son away. They found their way into […]

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