“When you are a latecomer, outsider, immigrant, exile, there are fractures in your life that you can’t heal… I have a lot of respect for people that have stayed behind and have to deal with the wounds every day.” Elif Shafak
Author Archive
Old news: the origins of originality

Old news: the origins of originality

The ancient Greeks are old news to us, or so we appear to be claiming. For some, at this very specific moment in time, they are not just antiquated, or relegated to the shades of oblivion, they are practically obsolescent, an existential black hole, even a socio-political and ethical-historical anathema. The question of the Greeks...
Armand D'Angour: A classically philosophical life?

Armand D’Angour: A classically philosophical life?

There are books that leave you silent – with awe, or shock, or both. And then there are some others that make you yearn for the space in between silence and voice: for a space for more of the author’s thoughts, a space for questions, for engaged and engaging exchanges. Armand d’Angour’s books belong to...
Towards an aesthetics of (im)perfection

Towards an aesthetics of (im)perfection

There is a certain aura of myth and legend when it comes to Jane Austen. We think we know so much about her, and at the same time we apparently never tire of being thrilled by the mystery that seems to surround her, from her private life to what is quite simply her writerly genius....
A thousand and one tales of a philosophical life

A thousand and one tales of a philosophical life

What can Hannah Arendt possibly teach us today? What was, and still is one hopes, her indelible imprint on the world, on our humanity, on what she so unwaveringly upheld as civilisation? And who was she? How did she become that singular multitude of perspectives, human facets, existential and conceptual spaces that can certainly lay...
The story of their history

The story of their history

The experience of lost places of belonging, of lost states of existence, together with the tenacity to defy and resist both loss and non-being, are deeply ingrained in the Russian language: thanks to Maxim Gorky, a term such as Бывшие люди, or ‘former people’, would come to acquire an eerily tangible corporeality, reality, and even...
Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

“All families develop a special language, words and references no outsider can understand. My family’s special language was Rotwelsch.” Thus begins Martin Puchner’s complex, compelling, if at times ambivalent exploration of a family and a language, or in point of fact of Language (and perhaps Family) capitalised. Of language as an institution, as a structure...
The Italian Plutarch

The Italian Plutarch

The Renaissance is so much more than the sum of its parts. Not only because of the tremendous change that it brought, as many have argued, to history, art, knowledge, human experience and science, to the perception and very substance of our world, but especially for the even more momentous continuity which, according to color...
Don't just think about it – how thoughts can be life's actions

Don’t just think about it – how thoughts can be life’s actions

The ancient Greeks, and the Romans in their wake, loved to think. They were enchanted, startled and astonished by the world around them, not only by its wondrousness, but also by its terrifying vastness, inscrutable perils, its dark mysteriousness and unknowingness. They found a sense of thrill and exaltation in the perusal of magnitude and...
A chance to tell his story

A chance to tell his story

A boy grows in rural northern Italy, in the midst of pastoral peace and bloody internecine war; little is known about his parents or his childhood, for all the many stories that would be told about him once he became a novus homo, poet, imperial confidant, the voice of a people and an empire –...
Towards a poetics of wreckage

Towards a poetics of wreckage

There is something thrilling about a beautiful book – a book whose aesthetic, material presence, and the evocative momentum of its ideas and the words that embody them, seek to touch a reader’s every nerve, even that insubstantial vital centre we call our soul. Susan Stewart’s The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture...