Jesuit Methods

Diarmaid MacCulloch

In the mid-18th century​ an exceptionally adventurous European traveller might have got as far as a desert region in what is now Arizona, to be rewarded with hospitality from the presiding priest in the stately local mission church. There was likely to have been chocolate to drink, transported from Yucatán some two thousand miles to the south, served in Fr Philipp Segesser von...

From the blog

Israel and the Crisis in Judaism

Eli Zaretsky

20 February 2024

Not for the first time, there is a crisis in Jewish identity. Many Jews, including myself, abhor Israel’s current policies, the occupation, the dispossession and many other aspects of the Zionist project. And yet, they want also to affirm their identity as Jews. This suggests there is a conflict at the centre of Jewishness itself.

 

Henry and Hamlet

Barbara Everett

Introducing​ his text of Hamlet in The Riverside Shakespeare, Frank Kermode calls it ‘the first great tragedy Europe had produced for two thousand years’, and adds, as if conceding to the long academic stress on its highly ‘problematic’ character: ‘how Shakespeare came to write it is, of course, a mystery on which it is useless to speculate.’ As a...

 

What now for Ukraine?

James Meek

When​ General Valery Zaluzhny, then Ukraine’s senior military commander, spoke in November of a stalemate, it was widely taken in the West as a signal that the war was frozen in all but name: that Ukraine and Russia had reached their fighting limits, that Russia could invade no further and Ukraine could liberate no more. Ukraine’s southern summer counteroffensive had fallen far...

 

On A.K. Blakemore

Lola Seaton

The narrator​ of A.K. Blakemore’s first novel, The Manningtree Witches (2021), is a 19-year-old woman called Rebecca West. She lives with her tough, rowdy mother, the Beldam West, and their cat, Vinegar Tom, in a cramped cottage on the outskirts of Manningtree, a small port town in north Essex where the Stour widens into an estuary. Rebecca and the Beldam usually get by doing laundry...

 

Fans and Un-Fans

Ferdinand Mount

Carefree:​ that must be the essence of the sporting idea, whether you are doing it with Amaryllis in the shade, or on the village green with your grandchild Wilhelmine. You are disported, carried off out of yourself. In botany, a ‘sport’ is the wayward offshoot of an otherwise predictable shrub. The definition of ‘a real sport’ is a girl like Catherine Morland, the...

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Diary

In Mostyska

Keiron Pim

In spring​ 2019 I stood in a meadow outside the small Ukrainian town of Mostyska, squinting at a transliteration of the Mourner’s Kaddish on my phone. A local farmer had directed my guide towards a couple of stubs of rock, the only remnants of dozens of gravestones that had long ago been removed for use as building materials. Brown hens pecked at the grass. It was impossible to tell...

 

On Mary Magdalene

Marina Warner

Almostevery woman in the story of Jesus is called Mary. Sometimes the writers of the gospels got round this by adding a patronymic or a husband (Mary Salome, Mary of Cleophas, Mary Jacobi). The Virgin Mary has a stable identity as the mother of Jesus, but at least one document (attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem) bundled all the Marys into one. More commonly, the Marys have combined and then...

 

Hegel gets real

Terry Eagleton

Hegel’s dissatisfaction with the revolutions he surveys comes down in almost every instance to their otherworldliness or estrangement from reality, whether we are speaking of Jesus or Robespierre, ancient Athenian philosophers or modern Kantians. 

 

Linnaeus makes the rules

Lorraine Daston

Linnaeus accepted the evidence of the astonishing specimens sent to him from far and wide as well as what the microscope revealed of the life teeming in a drop of water. The same Linnaeus who made short work of hydras and unicorns embroidered his own field notes with fanciful mythological references.

Short Cuts

Trump’s Indictments

Aziz Huq

In​ the 1920 US presidential election, Eugene Debs, or Convict 9653, won 913,693 votes while serving a ten-year sentence in a federal prison in Atlanta. ‘Under the influence of this unreasoning mob psychology,’ the editors of the New York Times complained, an ‘acknowledged criminal is nightly applauded as loudly as many of the candidates for the presidency who have won...

 

Constitutional Dramas

Colin Kidd

Most historians​ nowadays are suspicious of ‘constitutional history’, in part because they’re uneasy about its associations with the Anglocentric arrogance of what is sometimes called Whig history, a self-satisfied celebration of England’s relatively smooth progress towards liberal outcomes. The historical reaction against Whig triumphalism also exposed the...

 

Red Sea Attacks

Laleh Khalili

On​ 19 November, a helicopter operated by the Houthi-controlled Yemeni navy hovered over the vehicle carrier Galaxy Leader, which was passing through the Red Sea south of Jeddah. Masked and armed men rappelled down to the deck, raised Yemeni and Palestinian flags, and directed the ship to the nearby port of Hodeida. Galaxy Leader has remained there ever since, becoming a selfie hotspot and a...

At the Movies

‘The Zone of Interest’

Michael Wood

Jonathan Glazer’sZone of Interest seems stately at first, even stolid, and a bit too restrained to raise real questions. Once it’s over we realise that its discretion is part of a careful, risky plan. ‘Based on the novel by Martin Amis’, as a credit line says, the film converts a cruel virtuoso performance of literary voices into a sort of belated act of espionage....

 

On VAR

Ben Walker

On​ the baseball fields of America in the first half of the 20th century Bill Klem was the law. As an umpire between 1905 and 1941 he worked eighteen World Series. His nickname was the Old Arbitrator, and the decisions he made were absolute. He is said to have been the first umpire to communicate to the crowd in the stands as well as the players on the field. He didn’t just announce...

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