European History

Wordsworth in Self-Isolation

Jonathan Bate— During the great pandemic lockdown, people on Twitter have been “dreaming of other places”—beautiful places that they remember and of which they have treasured photographs. What they are really dreaming of is other times, happier times, special memories. William Wordsworth, whose 250th anniversary falls on April 7, was

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Orphans in Eighteenth-Century London

Stella Tillyard— On a bleak spring evening in 1741 a crowd gathered in a dark, narrow London street. At its edge well-to-do City merchants on their way westward through Hatton Garden mingled with the wretched and curious poor, washed up from tenements to the north, east, and south, looking for

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Protesting Empire with Railway Tickets

Kim A. Wagner— A traveller alighting at Amritsar railway station in April 1919, after the train came to a jerking halt along the third-of-a-mile-long narrow platform, would have been met by much the same scene as described by Rudyard Kipling: ‘the station filled with clamour and shouting, cries of water

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Ben Hecht on the Holocaust

David Denby— Ben Hecht was not religious in any way, and ignored such Jewish organizations as the Anti-Defamation League and political causes in general. He was a nonjoiner, a skeptic, a man indifferent to the world’s suffering. But in 1937 and 1938, as the threats to the European Jews grew

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What Is Wisdom?

Giambattista Vico— Wisdom is the faculty that commands all the disciplines; by these, all the sciences and arts that complete our humanity are apprehended. Plato defines wisdom as that which is the perfecter of man. Man, in the being proper to him as a man, is nothing other than mind and

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Populism in France

Christophe Guilluy— Amid a fanfare of republican self-congratulation, France has embraced globalization in all its glory. Wherever one looks, from the chronic alternation between traditional parties of the center left and center right to the denial of democracy itself, with the farcical referendum of 2005 on a European constitution, it

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France and the Self

James Livesey— The history of the self is vitally important, and the contrast between the French and British histories is highly instructive. The self, or at least the version of the self as self-determining individual, is the postulate of every variety of liberalism and its institutions, and it is clear

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Indigenous Agency and the Contingency of Empire

Kate Fullagar— December 10, 1776: one day—three vastly distant corners of the world. In the southern-most peaks of the American Appalachians, a Cherokee warrior called Ostenaco sits before the fire in his winter house, churning over the biggest decision of his eventful life—to concede defeat to the revolutionaries or to

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Magic: The Ambivalence of Sir Walter Scott

Michael Hunter— Sir Walter Scott was second to none in his use of supernatural stories and allusions in a fictional setting. In Rob Roy, for instance, he speaks of fairies as “a race of airy beings, who formed an intermediate class between men and dæmons, and who, if not positively malignant

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Parameters of Marie-Antoinette’s New Reign

John Hardman— The diary entry of the new king is succinct:  10 [May 1774]: Death of the King at two in the afternoon and departure for Choisy.  This château was 9 kilometres to the south of Paris. Infection hung about Versailles and the royal family lost no time getting out.

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