On Rereading Kipling

Kipling’s novel Kim has long fascinated me. Published in 1901, when the British Empire was at its zenith, it tells the story of Kim O’Hara, a poor Anglo-Irish boy who has effectively gone native, finding it easier to slip into Hindu or Mohammedan garb when engaged on certain businesses. The novel describes his travels across the Subcontinent in the company of a Tibetan […]

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Christopher de Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (2016)

It was the excellent idea of Christopher de Hamel to inspect ten medieval manuscripts, for the most part well known ones, and produce a beautifully illustrated book describing his encounters with them. Its chapters follow the same pattern. We accompany the author as he makes his way to a library or archive where, having undergone some wittily described formalities, he sits down and meets a manuscript, […]

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The Royal Ballet Dance The Winter’s Tale

Among the plays by Shakespeare we studied in first year English at University, The Winter’s Favourite was the least well liked. Putting aside its great length, a feature scarcely likely to endear it to undergraduates, and the apparent weirdness of the plot (how seriously are we to take what seems to be a resurrection scene?), the lecturer made clear his distaste […]

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Bishop Maxim Vasiljevic on Tradition

Orthodox Tradition is a custom-dominated (cultural) rather than reason-dominated tradition, which means that it addresses the whole person (and not just their intellect) at the level of morals and daily life.  There are other cultures, on the other hand, such as the Western, which require intellectual explanations, a continual catechesis. How did the Orthodox people survive under the rule of […]

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Nancy Marie Brown’s The Abacus and the Cross The Story of the Pope who brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages (2010)

It’s always good to come across a book aimed at a wide readership that presents an important topic that has been undeservedly neglected, especially one that is written in a lively style. Nancy Marie Brown examines the career of Gerbert of Aurillac, a mathematician who became pope (Silvester II, 999-1003). In doing so she rescues the middle ages from charges of anti-scientific obscurantism, effectively […]

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J. R. R. Tolkien’s Beowulf A Translation and Commentary (2014)

While the late J. R. R. Tolkien is better known for his fiction, he also held a chair in Anglo Saxon, as Old English used to be called, at Oxford for twenty years, before he was elected Professor of English Language and Literature in the same university. A recent book contains two fascinating pieces that arose from his academic activities, a prose translation of the Old English poem Beowulf […]

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