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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Christos Yannaras’ Variations on the Song of Songs (2005)

The long tradition of commentary on this most steamy book of the Bible continues, although what the contemporary Greek thinker Christos Yannaras offers is not so much commentary as a series of reflections, almost responses to the text, which are introduced in musical terms. They describe territory familiar to many people. Hence, the words My beloved is mine and I am his. He […]

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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: ‘Summoning up all the characteristic traits of a believer who lives his repentance, Palamas describes him as mild and calm, full of mercy and compassion for others.’ How do we get there? ‘Spiritual mourning is the basic precondition for man’s exodus from bondage to the passions and […]

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Anestis Keselopoulos on St Gregory Palamas: Repentance and Purification

In the third chapter of his book Passions and Virtues, Anestis Keselopoulos expresses the teaching of St Gregory Palamas on repentance. ‘Repentance is not a short-lived contrition arising from the awareness that some sin has been committed. It is a permanent spiritual state…the new frame of mind and correct spiritual course that must accompany man until the moment of his […]

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Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December (2009)

This novel follows a group of characters during the week preceding a large dinner party held in London at the end of 2007. Two narrative lines are developed in detail. A young man has joined a group of young Muslims planning an act of terror that may impact on the lives of other characters, while a hedge fund trader in the City plots […]

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Christopher I. Beckwith’s Empires of the Silk Road (2009) (ii)

The decline of Central Eurasia has been going on for some centuries, but the explanation Christopher Beckwith offers for what he sees as its cultural destruction in the twentieth century is the influence of modernism and its political consequences. ‘The core idea of Modernism is simple, and seems harmless enough by itself: what is modern – new and fashionable – is […]

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