Historians of Russia: James Billington

Described as an interpretive history of Russian culture, James Billington’s The Icon and the Axe (1966) opens by considering the role of two phenomena that were central to Russian life as early as the Kievan period, the religious image known as the icon and the axe used to chop down the tree from which it was made. While the history of Russia […]

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Depicting God in Art

Some time ago on this blog I discussed the remarkable novel by Orhan Pamuk, ‘My Name is Red’. Set in Constantinople not long after the Turks had come to power, it deals with the impact of Western forms of art on local traditions. Something similar occurred in Russia during the seventeenth century, as James Billington reminds us in his book The […]

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Visiting the Koala Sanctuary

In addition to keeping me me from regular blog postings, as often happens a very welcome visit by friends from overseas has prompted me to do things I would not otherwise do in my own city, such as visiting a koala sanctuary. We had a wonderful outing, admiring some of the fauna for which this continent is known, such as cockatoos of […]

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The Baroque Continuo

The continuo parts played by harpsichord or organ in baroque music seem to have become important with the decline of elaborate polyphonic works, when composers began to feel it was necessary to anchor the piece with a bass line. I’ve long believed that the advent of the piano opened the way for the technical bravura in concertos of such composers […]

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Catherine Pickstock on the Liturgy

A member of a group who call themselves Radical Orthodoxy, the Anglican theologian Catherine Pickstock writes with profundity. My copy of her magnum opus,  After Writing On the Liturgical Consumation of Philosophy, seems to have gone walkabout, as we say in Australia, but excerpts from a shorter piece give an idea of some of her thinking on liturgical matters. She mentions […]

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