Category Archives: Literature

Information overload, 18th century style

“Meantime, the pamphlets and half-sheets grow so upon our hands,” groaned Swift in 1710, “it will very well employ a man every day from morning til night to read them.” His solution? Never to open any! The doctor Thomas Beddoes … Continue reading

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Shock tactics

You are a middle-aged, female musician playing a solo gig at a small venue where a gaggle of laddish men, completely uninterested in your songs, are making so much noise that you can barely hear yourself. You politely ask them … Continue reading

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Notebook

I was twenty-five when, in 1956, I was formally inducted into MI5 as a junior officer… Spying on a decaying British Communist Party twenty-five thousand strong that had to be held together by MI5 informants did not meet my aspirations. … Continue reading

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Notebook

“What’s going on?” my mom said. “Oh, Nombuyiselo,” she said. “Trevor is so naughty. He’s the naughtiest child I’ve ever come across in my life.” “Then you should hit him.” “I can’t hit him.” “Why not?” “Because I don’t know … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Literature, Notebook, Race | Tagged , , , ,

Reading list

Advice from Niall Ferguson in a Q&A with the New York Times: If you could require the American president to read one book, what would it be? And the prime minister? I agree with you that it would be wonderful … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, UK politics, US politics | Tagged , , ,

Blind spots

We all reach reach a point in life where we just have to accept that certain books, acclaimed as classics by everyone else, just aren’t going to click with us. P.G. Wodehouse’s works fall into that category, as far as … Continue reading

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Huxley meets Spencer

In the secondhand bookshop.

Posted in Art, Literature, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Notebook

The temperature that night was -75.8 degrees, and I will not pretend it did not convince me that Dante was right when he placed the circles of ice below the circles of fire. Still we slept sometimes, and always lay … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Notebook, Science, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Notebook

I wanted to ask him  if he was writing, Was he finding the time? For years, as a busy physician, I’d struggled to find the time to write. I wanted to tell him that a famous writer, commiserating about this … Continue reading

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Stripes

[I posted this at The Times’ First Edition Facebook page] Andrew Bacevich, an academic with a rare insider’s understanding of the American army (he was a senior officer and lost a son in the Iraq war) has written a good … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, World War 2 | Tagged , , ,