Filed under European literature

One Last Mystery for Sherlock

I’m not a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the recent discovery of a story by the author, together with the ‘discovery’ of a Harper Lee story that had been assumed lost makes me wonder how many other stories are out there, mouldering in attics. It also makes me wonder if this will … Continue reading

Pictures of the Invisible

When I started writing, I taught myself by devouring great books, especially by European authors. One of my favourites, for his originality and variety is Italo Calvino, whose books rarely follow a traditional structure. His Invisible Cities is more a series of vignettes, and may have helped push me into writing about buildings, or it … Continue reading

History Paintings

History Paintings

Pictures can tell us a lot about things that never got written down in the past, or have been lost, but paintings are not necessarily accurate. Some marine paintings look incredibly crowded, with a lot of ships about to crash into each other in order to show action. The same is here, a bear attack … Continue reading


This latest film starring Jake Gyllenhaal has garnered rave reviews but not a lot of screens showing it. But here’s something I don’t think I’ve ever written. It is a bad film. I can see what they were trying to do with it, but it seems to have been made without looking at the end … Continue reading

Punishing a Corpse

This is more from The rise & fall of the house if Medici: Following the murder of Giuliano & attempt on his brother Lorenzo, DW Medici: “Jacopo de’Pazzi, so overcome by despair at the failure if the plot that he boxed his own ears and threw himself on the floor in despair and rage, managed … Continue reading


We tend to think that witchcraft and persecution of people for it is as old as time, but it really only features in Europe in the early modern period, ie between the Reformation and the Enlightenment, a time when education and local government were at their lowest ebbs. Elsewhere in this blog there are a … Continue reading

The Necessity of Art

This book by Ernst Fisher comes with an introduction by the wonderful pioneering art historian John Berger, so is a wonderful find. It seems that as long as there have been humans, we have been making art of some form, so the title seems particularly apt. If it’s not essential to us, why do we … Continue reading

Peter the Great Collector

This is from ‘Finders Keepers, Eight Collectors by Rosamond Wolff Purcell & Stephen Jay Gould:, in which they cite Peter as one of the few who deserved to be called Great. With his “gargantuan carouses, his terrifying cruelties, his incessant wars, his obsessive need to learn and experience, his overwhelming drive to modernize and make … Continue reading