Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks (2015)

A Lecturer in English and Fellow of Emmanuel College in Cambridge, Robert Macfarlane walks the talk more than most people in his line of work, for in addition to teaching and working on writing about nature he has tramped over a fair stretch of the British Isles. His most recent book consists of essays on a number of British authors who have […]

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Barbara Santich’s The Original Mediterranean Cuisine Medieval Recipes for Today (1996)

In this fascinating book, an author from South Australia examines what food was like in the Mediterranean areas of Spain and France, and Italy, before the arrival from the New World of the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes that characterize the cooking of that region now. Drawing on  books of recipes that were written in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that have yet to […]

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Anestis Keselopoulos on St Gregory Palamas: Virtue as the ‘Middle Way’ of Spiritaul Life

In his study of the thought of St Gregory Palamas, across a number of pages Anestis Keselopoulos considers his notion of virtue: ‘Examining the texts of the holy Fathers, we see that they clearly describe the beginning of the journey to God with a practical philosophy that is composed of two basic aspects of the spiritual struggle. The first aspect of the […]

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Andrew Dalby’s Tastes of Byzantium (2010)

It’s always a good idea to be prepared, and here’s a book that covers an unlikely eventuality that would nevertheless be an exciting one. Should you find yourself puzzling over the bill of fare in a restaurant in medieval Constantinople, it contains a fifty page phrase-book of Byzantine foods and aromas!  This is a book full of interest. After providing a […]

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Anestis Keselopoulos on St Gregory Palamas: Repentance and Purification (continued)

In his presentation of the thought of St Gregory Palamas, Anestis Keselopoulos observes: ‘The aim of repentance and mourning is to perfectly cleanse the soul from the passions, which ultimately means to overcome the Fall…repentance is the great opportunity God gives man and the potential for intimacy of sonship and union with Him…Man’s purification is the work of the grace of […]

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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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Historians of Russia: John Lawrence

There weren’t all that many books I bought when a student, but one that made of great impression on me was John Lawrence’s A History of Russia, the first edition of which appreared in 1957; I must have read one of the revised versions, which continued to appear until 1993. Lawrence, an old Etonian and an Oxford graduate whose second […]

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Bob Katter’s ‘An Incredible Race of People A Passionate History of Australia’ (2012)

What better souvenir of a trip to northern Australia could there be than this book, a present from a kind friend? Bob Katter is the MP for a remote electorate in the outback where people look at things in a different way from city folk and preserve values that were once more widespread in Australian society than they are now. It needs […]

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