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Messages from the 29th Floor

David Trotter: Lifts

2 July 2014
Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator 
by Andreas Bernard, translated by David Dollenmayer.
NYU, 309 pp., £21.99, April 2014, 978 0 8147 8716 8
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... cables coiling and uncoiling in the shaft stand in for the root of Roquentin’s chestnut tree. Andreas Bernard is properly sceptical of myths of origin. It didn’t all begin in 1854, in fact. From Archimedes and Vitruvius onwards, descriptions survive of devices for the vertical transport of goods, primarily, but also of people. The English diplomat ...

Bonfire in Merrie England

Richard Wilson: Shakespeare’s Burning

3 May 2017
... following morning the building was a blackened shell.’Afterwards a telegram arrived from George Bernard Shaw: ‘You must be delighted. Congratulations. It will be a tremendous advantage to have a proper modern building. There are a number of other theatres I should like to see burned down.’ Shaw had opened the final season in the old building, proposing ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania

29 July 1999
The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... the princes of Europe could hope to launch – and not to proceed around the Horn of Africa, Andreas Vesalius, teacher of anatomy in Padua, had published De humani corporis fabrica, that monument to the conviction that ‘the violation of the body would be the revelation of its truth.’ There he stands insouciantly before Death on the Fabrica’s ...

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