“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”
“Doctors of ancient times used to recommend reading to their patients as a physical exercise on an equal level with walking, running, or ball-playing.” So says Jean Leclerq in his wonderful The Love of Learning and the Desire for God.
“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”
In some ways, blogs and books don’t mix too well. Blogs are part of the online world of instant gratification whereas books are part of the real world of delayed gratification. This is a particular problem when it comes to long books.
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”
At the risk of trying to jump on a bandwagon that’s long since passed by, I want to explore in this article what The Gildas Option might look like, taking St Gildas’s The Ruin of Britain (also known as On the Downfall and Conquest of Britain) written in the 6th Century as my starting point.
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”
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?”
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 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’”
Today I’m introducing a new section to the site: 3 Great … And I’m starting with 3 Great Audiobooks for children.
Looking through a shelf of old Ladybird books the other day, I was surprised to find this book on Pope John Paul II by Joan Collins. (Presumably not that Joan Collins.) It was published in 1982, shortly after the pope’s visit to Britain and is remarkably positive about him.
It can be a dispiriting experience reading the first drafts of students’ personal statements – it can also be dispiriting to read the fifteenth draft but that’s another matter – because many students simply don’t write very well. Their grammar is creaky, their vocabulary is limited, and their paragraphing is all over the place.
I am currently reading Reading Reconsidered and will review it properly in the next week or so. However, I couldn’t resist mentioning a couple of statistics from the book (both from page 210) before I do so:
1. Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – published in 1961 so not, strictly speaking, post Waugh. A great novella about much more than a schoolmistress and her pupils: a novella about the theology of free will and predestination.
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:
Even though I was firmly rooted in one place as a child, I struggle to explain where I am from. I was born on the very edge of Frindsbury in Kent, but Frindsbury had been swallowed up by Strood and Strood had been swallowed by Rochester, which was itself merely one of the Medway Towns. Continue reading “A Sense of Place”
There are three important questions to be asked before buying an audiobook: is the book itself worth reading; does the reader bring the book to life; and is the book abridged?
I have just finished reading The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada and really enjoyed it. The Factory is a novel about work and, specifically, about the nature of modern work.
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.