Life as an anchoress began with a death. On entering their cell for the first time, the recludensus (novice recluse) would climb into a grave dug inside the cell.

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At the turn​ of the 20th century, Gaston Gallimard was one of many suave young men about Paris with exquisite taste in literature, music and art. Then he became friends not only with Proust,...

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Short Cuts: The p-p-porn ban

Tom Crewe, 4 April 2019

Have​ you p-p-picked up a porn pass? In April the UK government plans to introduce – or at least plans to announce a definite date for the introduction of – the world’s first...

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The Palais de Justice​ in Brussels is a product of civic and architectural delirium, a Circumlocution Office looming over the historically working-class Marolles district like a sinister,...

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He Couldn’t Stop Himself: Justinian’s Wars

Michael Kulikowski, 21 March 2019

Had​ you been a sixth-century Christian, living in lands that had been or still were part of the Roman Empire, you would probably have met a demon. Every tree, hill and stream, every hovel and...

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Short Cuts: The Hitchens Principle

Daniel Soar, 21 March 2019

On Sunday​, 30 September 2007, in the late afternoon, four men met in an airy, book-lined apartment in Washington DC and had a two-hour discussion around a marble table. The subject, it

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Short Cuts: King Charles the Martyr

Christopher Tayler, 21 February 2019

On 23 January,​ Jacob Rees-Mogg reintroduced the country to the concept of prorogation – the suspension of Parliament by the monarch. Like Boris Johnson, Rees-Mogg is fond of bogus...

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Short Cuts: Equality Legislation

Stephen Sedley, 7 February 2019

If an employer​ has a policy or practice of never promoting black or female or Muslim employees, it doesn’t require much legal theory to recognise this as direct racial or sexual or...

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These days​, thanks to Google Books, it is possible to find out when people started paying attention to ‘Greek religion’. The phrase first appeared in print in English in 1654; it...

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Misrepresentations: The Islamic Enlightenment

Dmitri Levitin, 22 November 2018

‘Oriental history​,’ the German philologist Johann Jakob Reiske wrote in 1747, ‘is very worthy of the study of an honest mind, and does not deserve any less than European...

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In the spring​ of 1961, Frantz Fanon wrote to his publisher in Paris to suggest that he ask Jean-Paul Sartre for a preface to his anti-colonial manifesto, The Wretched of the Earth. ‘Tell...

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Early on​ in Emmanuel Carrère’s remarkable novel The Kingdom (2014), about the vagaries of Christian conversion, the narrator tells us that his unhappy mother always knew of the...

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Short Cuts: The Court of Appeal

Francis FitzGibbon, 11 October 2018

If you want​ to appeal against a guilty verdict given by a crown court jury you first have to seek permission from the Court of Appeal. For permission to be granted, a judge has to be satisfied...

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How complex is a lemon? Object-Oriented Ontology

Stephen Mulhall, 27 September 2018

Early on​ in his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein imagines an interlocutor who claims that every word in language signifies something – where ‘signifies’ means...

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Nobody’s perfect: ‘The Holy Land’

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 27 September 2018

The Middle East​ isn’t short of ruins (there are many more now than there were a few years ago), and until the turn of the millennium archaeologists believed that those at Khirbet...

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Monk Justice

Kieran Setiya, 30 August 2018

‘If​ universities had been an invention of the second half of the 20th century,’ Michael Dummett wondered in his last book, The Nature and Future of Philosophy (2010), ‘would...

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The Unseeables: Caste or Class

Tariq Ali, 30 August 2018

According to recent estimates by India’s National Crime Records Bureau, every 16 minutes a crime is committed by caste Hindus against an untouchable – or Dalit, as they prefer to be called....

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Flightiness: Airborne Females

Marina Warner, 30 August 2018

At​ the furthest edges of the known world, medieval travellers encountered creatures who held a single giant foot over their head as a makeshift parasol and fearsome hybrids with eyes peering...

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