"Our technology has outpaced us to the degree that human understanding is no longer at the centre of it." Olivia Sudjic
Moments in literature
Dalliances at the dacha

Dalliances at the dacha

On rereading Pushkin’s fictional fragment ‘The guests were arriving at the dacha’ for about the seventh time in 1873, Leo Tolstoy found himself transported and inspired. “Despite myself,” he noted, “not knowing where or what it would lead to, I imagined characters and events, which I developed, then naturally modified, and suddenly it all came...
Waves of joy and doubt

Waves of joy and doubt

During the Second World War Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking, was an aspiring writer living in Stockholm with her family, working in a top secret job at the Swedish Mail Censorship Office. Horrified and fascinated as world events unfolded, she kept a meticulous diary full of newspaper clippings (and occasional snippets from the letters...
Opening night at Shakespeare’s Globe

Opening night at Shakespeare’s Globe

The Time Travel Handbook offers eighteen exceptional trips to the past, transporting you back to the greatest spectacles in history. You can join Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold; march on Versailles with the revolutionary women of Paris; sail with Captain Cook to Tahiti and Australia; hang out at Xanadu with...
London models

London models

Professional models are a purely modern invention. To the Greeks, for instance, they were quite unknown. Mr Mahaffy1, it is true, tells us that Perikles used to present peacocks to the great ladies of Athenian society in order to introduce them to sit to his friend Pheidias, and we know that Polygnotus introduced into his...
The Cornhill Magazine and Framley Parsonage

The Cornhill Magazine and Framley Parsonage

Soon after my return from the West Indies1 I was enabled to change my district in Ireland for one in England. For some time past my official work had been of a special nature, taking me out of my own district; but through all that, Dublin had been my home, and there my wife and children...
Brightness and shadows over Europe

Brightness and shadows over Europe

As everyone knows, it is a thousand times easier to reconstruct the facts of what happened at a certain time than its intellectual atmosphere. That atmosphere is reflected not in official events but, most conspicuously, in small, personal episodes of the kind that I am going to recount here. To be honest, I did not...
A fortunate tyranny

A fortunate tyranny

A monstrous pride and an incessant affectation spoil Napoleon’s character. At the time of his supremacy, what need had he to exaggerate his stature? He took after his Italian ancestors: his nature was complex: great men, a very small family on earth, can unfortunately find no one but themselves to imitate them. At once a...
Father Brown takes a bow

Father Brown takes a bow

This is the opening of ‘The Blue Cross’, Chesterton’s first Father Brown mystery, which is unique among the stories in that it does not follow Father Brown as the central character. First published in June 1910, as ‘Valentin Follows a Curious Trail’ in Philadelphia’s Saturday Evening Post, it was retitled as ‘The Blue Cross’ for...
Conspiracy

Conspiracy

It is all carefully arranged. Everything is arranged. It is arranged that men should be broken and that they should be mended. Just as you send your clothes to the laundry and mend them when they come back, so we send our men to the trenches and mend them when they come back again. You...
Freedom of sorts

Freedom of sorts

Naples was in the throes of the ‘plague’. Every afternoon at five o’clock, after half an hour with the punching-ball and a hot shower in the gymnasium of the P.B.S. – Peninsular Base Section – Colonel Jack Hamilton and I would walk down in the direction of San Ferdinando, elbowing our way through the unruly...