Quotation of the Day

“Considered etymologically, [the word ‘medieval’] assumes that we have to deal with a threefold division of time, a succession of three periods in terms of Hegelian dialectic. Viewed thus, the ‘Middle Ages’ are a transition from antiquity to modern times; but if by that phrase we mean that they form a chronological link between theContinue reading “Quotation of the Day”

Quotation of the Day

“The expression ‘Middle Ages,’ when used to designate the period 1050-1350 and the following century, is open to objection. The phrase itself and the notion it is intended to convey were alike unknown to the men of that epoch. Unconscious of any break in continuity between themselves and their predecessors of the ancient world, theyContinue reading “Quotation of the Day”

Maximilian Kolbe: The Saint of Auschwitz

The story of St Maximilian Kolbe’s extraordinary martyrdom in Auschwitz is well known. Ten prisoners were chosen for execution at random because a prisoner had escaped. As one of the men was called out of line, he broke down and pleaded with the guards not to take him because he had a wife and twoContinue reading “Maximilian Kolbe: The Saint of Auschwitz”

The Fossil Girl and Earth’s Deep History

Catherine Brighton’s The Fossil Girl: Mary Anning’s Dinosaur Discovery is in many ways a lovely book. The pictures are glorious and the story of the young Mary discovering the first complete Ichthyosaur is fascinating. However, a couple of minor moments mar the whole. The first is a page showing Mary having a tower constructed so sheContinue reading “The Fossil Girl and Earth’s Deep History”

What is the purpose of education?

In the preface to his great book, The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, Neil Postman pointed out that in “in tracking what people have to say about schooling, I notice that most of the conversation is about means, rarely about ends. Should we privatize our schools? Should we have national standards ofContinue reading “What is the purpose of education?”

St Bede the Venerable’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’

In 1899 an English historian was declared a doctor of the Church. A man who had never had political influence or held high office in the Church was now officially one of the Church’s great teachers. His name was Bede, or the Venerable Bede as he was called even in his own lifetime. Why wasContinue reading “St Bede the Venerable’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’”

Jérôme Ferrari’s ‘The Sermon on the Fall of Rome’

Jérôme Ferrari’s novel, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 2012, opens with a quotation from one of St. Augustine’s sermons: “Are you surprised that the end of the world is upon us? You might rather be surprised that the world has grown so old.” In a novel about a village bar, this opening is,Continue reading “Jérôme Ferrari’s ‘The Sermon on the Fall of Rome’”

Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Officers and Gentlemen’ – a surprising discovery

Browsing in a secondhand bookshop yesterday, I found a lovely first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s Officers and Gentlemen, the second book in his Sword of Honour trilogy. Except, to my great surprise, I discovered that the trilogy might never have been written:

Tim Gautreaux, ‘Waiting for the Evening News’

Tim Gautreaux is an author who deserves to be better known. The author of three novels, he has also written beautifully crafted short stories about the Deep South, as the subtitle of Waiting for the Evening News describes it, which immediately puts us in mind of Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy.