- Ties that bind
Scots are soon to vote on independence. This week, in the first of two articles examining the implications of the ballot for the two countries, a writer steeped in the cultural and linguistic links between Scotland and England argues that they are indivisible
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- Jordan’s Christians and Muslims march together in demonstration of determination to live side by side
- Catholics hit hard by end of free faith school transport, exclusive research by The Tablet reveals
- Ancient Irish parishes 'will be wiped out' if current vocations decline continues
- Academics respond to Devine’s call for Scottish independence
- The difference between Ebola treatment in the West and the developing world reflects our attitude towards the poor D J Kearnery
- Stop scapegoating Muslims: social disaffection has many causes, and they won’t be solved by blunt Government intervention Francis Davis
- Pope Francis has transformed the Church – it’s time the Church stopped stifling groups who embrace that transformation Chris McDonnell
Chesterton’s Father Brown holds an unexamined but stubborn place among the Great Detectives; the reissue of the five collections of stories featuring him is a chance to ask the embarrassing question, Is he, are they, any good?
Psychology, the science of the mind, only really began to coalesce into a respectable discipline towards the end of the Victorian era. It aimed to free our understanding of the mind from the shackles of superstition, and bring tidy scientific methodology to mystical speculation.
ONCE AGAIN Patricia Ferguson has set a novel in Cornwall. Many of the characters from her last book, The Midwife’s Daughter, reappear here, along with plenty of new ones, as Ferguson continues to trace the changing lives of women between the two world wars.
If you were a fan of pop music in the Sixties, you will remember Dusty Springfield. Born Mary O’Brien, a Catholic girl born in West Hampstead, her haunting voice was often to be heard on transistor radios, while her striking peroxide blonde hair and heavy eye make-up made her a symbol of Swinging London.
Very few people have singlehandedly translated the whole Bible into English. Even William Tyndale did not manage to complete the task. So Nicholas King’s translation is a remarkable achievement. It is also distinctive in that the Old Testament (which includes the “deuterocanonical” books) is translated from the ancient Greek version (the Septuagint), rather than from the Hebrew.
We live in the age of the selfie. Everybody can do it, and everybody does. It is hardly, however, the “examined life”. James Hall’s cultural history examines a different kind of looking at our selves, that of the professional visual narrator of both the inner and the outer life.
Mystery surrounds the Basques, their language and their history. Much of this is because their tongue is older than the Indo-European from which all the other languages of Europe descended, and because the earliest Basque written texts do not emerge till the late Middle Ages, having been passed on orally from successive generations for millennia.
Of all the qualities required to write a novel, confidence is one of the most vital. Philip Hensher has confidence in spades, not only in his reach but in his readers’ stamina. His self-assurance and brio invests The Emperor Waltz with quasi-Victorian breadth and length, and with stylish authority.
One of the things Pope Francis picks out in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is the importance of popular religiosity. It is now widely acknowledged that an unintended consequence of the transformation of Catholic consciousness at the time of the Second Vatican Council was a neglect of the ordinary forms of piety.
Napoleon had little affection for the Catholic Church, but, as Michael Broers points out, he “realised how central to French culture Catholicism remained”, so in 1800 he instructed his minions to negotiate a Concordat with the representatives of Pius VII.
IN 2005, when Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea, Paul French published a history of that repulsive but fascinating state. Now, with the third of the dynasty, Kim Jong-un, in charge, he returns to the theme at greater length.
THIS enormous novel is a nightmare to review, but one must try. Forgive the direct approach: if you keep reading you may understand.
The current and the previous occupants of the throne of St Augustine at Canterbury could hardly be more different. Rowan Williams, who served from 2002 to 2012, is someone of prodigious intellect, with a theological wisdom ranging across virtually the whole of the discipline.
GIVEN THE attention devoted to Pope Pius XII and Naziism in recent years, it is salutary to be reminded that his predecessor Pius XI grappled with much the same kind of challenges and dilemmas.
You might expect an introduction to The Divine Comedy written by one of the world’s foremost Dante scholars, an Australian-born, much admired academic in British universities for several decades, who has spent many a year working in the dark corners of libraries decoding manuscript after manuscript, to be astute and accomplished, perhaps even definitive.
Ruth Swain, 19, suffers from a strange undefined illness and lies in bed, in an attic room near the River Shannon in County Clare, where the skylight streams with rain. Surrounded by nearly 4,000 books inherited from her father, she is writing an unusual family history, seeking to understand the mystery of her poet father.
It’s the “new” bit in the subtitle that caught my eye. I confess to a slight hurt, as when I offer to lend my teenage son a treasured jacket and he groans, “Oh, Dad, that’s so last century.” Some 18 years ago, I wrote my own biography of the Devil, and of course thought it very new at the time.
Towards the end of his life, Bertolt Brecht explained that his commitment to theatre began “when I found other plays wrong”. It is tempting to believe that Stephen Parker embarked on his biography after finding previous efforts wanting.
In a a 2005 review of Richard Benson’s first book, The Farm, I described it as “a neat little tribute to a lost way of life” on the Yorkshire Wolds. I also lamented, “If only a miner’s son could emulate his achievement. Perhaps it is too soon, yet.”
Philosophers and scientists have yet to establish the point where mathematics meets metaphysics or where infinity becomes eternity. Such speculations and ruminations are not an obvious topic for a best-selling first novel.