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What Might Have Happened Upstairs

Mary Beard: Pompeii, 16 September 1999

Pompeii: Public and Private Life 
by Paul Zanker, translated by Deborah LucasSchneider.
Harvard, 262 pp., £30.95, March 1999, 0 674 68966 6
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... One good thing about volcanic eruptions is that they rarely come without warning. Days or weeks of insistent rumbling, smoke pouring ever more energetically from the crater, followed by a few light drizzles of ash, are usually enough to ensure that all those with common sense, determination and some means of transport have fled to safety hours before the lava starts to flow or the pumice to rain ...

Don’t look

Julian Bell: Perspective’s Arab Origins, 25 October 2012

Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science 
by Hans Belting, translated by Deborah LucasSchneider.
Harvard, 303 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 674 05004 4
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... A daring undertaking’, the German art historian Hans Belting calls his book. Florence and Baghdad is his attempt to get two civilisations to define each other in terms of their attitudes to eyesight and, more specifically, in terms of what Ernst Cassirer, writing in the 1920s, called ‘symbolic form’. A symbolic form is a cohesive set of symbols within which you might give shape to the world ...

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