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The Pocahontas Exception

Thomas Laqueur: America’s Ancestor Obsession, 30 March 2023

A Nation of Descendants: Politics and the Practice of Genealogy in US History 
by Francesca Morgan.
North Carolina, 301 pp., £27.95, October 2021, 978 1 4696 6478 1
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... is done. Second is the question, still unresolved in Christological debates, which haunts Francesca Morgan’s A Nation of Descendants: what grounds for the claim of kinship do genealogical practices record and what follows from that claim? There is ‘genetic fetishism’, the modern form of the fetishism of blood; the fetishism of eidos (the ...

I Will Tell You Everything

Rosemary Hill: Iris Murdoch, 22 April 2010

Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War – Letters and Diaries 1939-45 
edited by Peter Conradi.
Short Books, 303 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 1 906021 22 1
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With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch 
by David Morgan.
Kingston, 143 pp., £13.99, March 2010, 978 1 899999 42 2
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... then, in 1964, while she was teaching philosophy at the Royal College of Art, that she met David Morgan, who was one of her students. The account he has written of their relationship combines his own reminiscences with some of her letters to him and veers between the unsettling and the excruciating. It reads like a Murdoch novel in which the narrative has ...

Seven Centuries Too Late

Barbara Newman: Popes in Hell, 15 July 2021

Dante’s Bones: How a Poet Invented Italy 
by Guy Raffa.
Harvard, 370 pp., £28.95, May 2020, 978 0 674 98083 9
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Poetry in Dialogue in the Duecento and Dante 
by David Bowe.
Oxford, 225 pp., £60, November 2020, 978 0 19 884957 5
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Dante’s Christian Ethics: Purgatory and Its Moral Contexts 
by George Corbett.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £75, March 2020, 978 1 108 48941 6
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Why Dante Matters: An Intelligent Person’s Guide 
by John Took.
Bloomsbury, 207 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 1 4729 5103 8
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Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio: Literature, Doctrine, Reality 
by Zygmunt Barański.
Legenda, 658 pp., £75, February 2020, 978 1 78188 879 7
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... life of the blessed as richly as the Paradiso does, requires a more rarefied imagination.As Alison Morgan showed in Dante and the Medieval Other World (1990), Dante didn’t innovate by incorporating contemporary figures in his epic. In fact, he included fewer than usual: contemporaries make up 69 per cent of the identifiable characters in popular otherworld ...

Berenson’s Elixir

Simon Schama, 1 May 1980

Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... still commands respect, and his single-minded ‘rediscoveries’ of Lorenzo Lotto and Piero della Francesca were, in their time, genuinely audacious. His influence on the great American collections was spectacular and decisive. Fenway Court, the patrician fantasy of a Renaissance palazzo in darkest Boston, is as much an expression of his taste and enthusiasm ...

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