Good plain English

An actor playing the role of Dr Faustus in the play by Christopher Marlowe told me that he finds lines of Shakespeare easier to memorize than those of Marlowe. The latter, who belonged to a group known as the University Wits, wrote in a more academic way than his contemporary, who allegedly had ‘small Latin and less Greek’, and his words do not stick […]

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Diarmaid MacCullough’s A History of Christianity

I missed reading this book when it was published in 2009, but what’s two years against the two millennia it covers? Actually MacCullough cheekily says that his book covers the first three thousand years of the history of Christianity, thereby allowing himself some coverage of the Greco-Roman and Jewish background, but his detailed treatment starts with the birth of Christ […]

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Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

It’s good having the time and intellectual energy to reread some classic works, among them this study, which I last looked at when an undergraduate. Burckhardt was a Swiss German, and in this work, first published in German in 1860, he produced one of the major interpretations of Renaissance Italy. Basing his study on a close reading of many texts, he produced some […]

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William Gibson

A taste for an edgy kind of cyberpunk fiction may not be an elevated one, but the novels of William Gibson have excited me since I began reading them. This is partly because of the fast pace of the action, appropriately laid out in very short chapters, partly because he writes of damaged and vulnerable characters in the power of intimidating […]

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