Unicorn or Narwhal? Linnaeus makes the rules

Lorraine Daston, 22 February 2024

Linnaeus’s personal contradictions do not make him a historical chimera. If he sounds odd to those who hold a view of Enlightenment science as rational and orderly, perhaps that’s because real Enlightenment...

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Diary: In Mostyska

Keiron Pim, 22 February 2024

It was impossible to tell where my ancestors were buried or the location of the mass grave containing five hundred of the town’s Jews, shot in 1942. But few descendants of the Ostjuden who visit Eastern...

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Our Way of Proceeding: Jesuit Methods

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 22 February 2024

What​ was this Society for which Pope Paul III provided a charter? It was not a religious order, though it is often styled as such. Its members were neither monks nor friars. Its self-descriptor as a...

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Multiplying Marys: On Mary Magdalene

Marina Warner, 22 February 2024

Devotees often exult in the stripping of her beauty and her wealth; she is imagined as a woman of substance, who owned property in Magdala (hence her name), and when she repents and gives all this up,...

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Strike at the Knee: Italy, 1943

Malcolm Gaskill, 8 February 2024

The gruelling, often grotesque nature of the Italian campaign is reason enough to remember it, but it’s been overlooked, idly regarded as filler between the defeat of Rommel and the Normandy Landings.

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To write about gay men in Britain in the 19th century should be to write about them as sons, brothers, friends, lovers, husbands, fathers, grandparents, members of a social class, employees, employers,...

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There’s a voyeuristic quality to so many of the discussions of Anne’s rise and fall, since it was allegedly her sexual allure that made her queen and her sexual licence that led to her death. The compulsion...

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Diary: Looking for Indraprastha

Raghu Karnad, 8 February 2024

Moving the Sanskrit epics ‘from mythology to history’ turns out to mean the obliteration of an archaeological site by a construction site. This is the kind of historical reckoning which India’s present...

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Wreckage of Ellipses: On Enheduana

Anna Della Subin, 8 February 2024

The Sumerian priestess Enheduana managed the complex affairs of the temple and wrote poems, among them a collection of temple hymns that sought to accomplish in verse what her father, Sargon of Akkad,...

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I know a good deal about the Bonhomme Richard. I know that it was originally a French merchant vessel called the Duc de Duras; that it was loaned to the fledgling US navy; and that it took part in the...

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Petrifying Juices: Fossilised

Liam Shaw, 25 January 2024

Like sculptures, fossils need curators. A raw lump of stone must be prepared and cleaned before it can be studied as a fossil; scientists of the past may well have inadvertently destroyed interesting surface...

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Bertie Wooster in Murmansk

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 25 January 2024

Apart from getting rid of the Bolsheviks, the aims of the Western intervention were remarkably ill-defined. Sometimes it was to protect British interests and keep the Germans, Turks, Poles, or Japanese...

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Antidote to Marx: Oh, I know Locke!

Colin Kidd, 4 January 2024

Contrary to the myth that from itsa founding document America was dedicated to capitalism, private property and the personal accumulation of wealth, ‘happiness’ in its 18th-century definition meant...

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Short Cuts: Edinburgh’s Festivalisation

Rory Scothorne, 4 January 2024

You can’t buy what Edinburgh has. You can, however, rent out certain kinds of access to it. This, as  David Harvey writes, is a recipe for self-destruction. The influx of international capital produces...

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Even the Eyelashes: Inca Mummies

Erin L. Thompson, 4 January 2024

The Chinchorro culture began mummifying their dead in what is now southern Peru and northern Chile around 6000 BCE, making South America’s earliest mummified bodies two thousand years older than those...

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When Paris Sneezed: The Cult of 1789

David Todd, 4 January 2024

The awesomeness of 1789 as a model of human emancipation inspired revolutionaries of various kinds – liberal, socialist, anticolonialist – worldwide until at least the mid-20th century. Only the Anglo-American...

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Who’d want to be English?

Tom Shippey, 4 January 2024

The Hundred Years War created a sense of nationhood, especially in France. In England, the Anglo-Norman dialect died out, and though French was still part of the equipment of ladies and gentlemen, it was...

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Israel’s security is Germany’s Staatsräson, as Angela Merkel put it in 2008. Solidarity with the Jewish state has burnished Germany’s proud self-image as the only country that makes public remembrance...

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