European History

Building the Cloisters

Follow @yaleARTbooks At first glance The Cloisters might be seen as an anachronism to its northern Manhattan neighborhood. Nestled within Fort Tryon Park (opened 1935), sitting above a grid of 1920s low-rise apartments, 1950s high-rise housing projects and the requisite array of fast food franchises, parking garages, and bodegas that

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Sorting Through Scandal: The Charles Dickens Affair

Charles Dickens is perhaps the most beloved figure of British literary heritage. His writing has become a revered aspect of Great Britain’s national identity, one entrenched with the warm Victorian traditions of family, hearth and home. Michael Slater, in his new biography, The Great Charles Dickens Scandal connects Dickens’ celebrity with

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Stranger Than Fiction: The Story of Octavia, Daughter of God

It is 1919, the First World War has just ended, and people are at a genuine loss— but in Bedford, a group of middle-class English women have a solution: they form a new religion. They choose Mabel Barltrop, a widow recently released from the asylum, as their leader. They name

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Dante’s Inferno and Paradise in Modern Times: Good Italy, Bad Italy

The plot of what is arguably the most important work of Italian literature, La Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), is known to many of us: guided by his muse, Beatrice, Dante journeys throughout l’Inferno (Hell) and il Purgatorio (Purgatory) until he reaches il Paradiso (Heaven). 700 years after its creation, what

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History through Literature: Gulag Labor Camps in the Soviet Union

The names Auschwitz and Birkenau are often in the forefront of our minds when we talk about concentration and labor camps, but the Germans were not the only ones who used labor camps to round-up large sections of their population. It is estimated that, from 1930-1960, over 14 million people

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The Moral Spark That Ended the Soviet Empire

December 25 is an important date for millions of Christians around the world who mark Christmas Day and the birth of Jesus Christ, but the early morning hours of December 25, 1991 also marked Mikhail Gorbachev’s resignation as president of the Soviet Union (which would be officially dissolved the next

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The Tipping Point: Where Bastille Day Meets Madame de Staël

A Happy Bastille Day to one and all! France’s national holiday is a day for celebrating its people as a collective force to be reckoned with. Specifically, it remembers those who came together to storm the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789. More generally, however, it celebrates the forging

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Variations to a Portrait: Norman Manea in Dialogue with Robert Boyers

Norman Manea is one of the world’s foremost contemporary writers on émigré life and the many nuances of political, cultural, and personal reality it engenders. While his moving prose has the unmistakable mark of creative excellence, it is also marked by his personal experience. Manea is a survivor of Holocaust

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The Venetian Book Tour

Are you spending your holiday in the romantic city of Venice this summer?  We’re not, either.  We have happily entertained fantasies about such a getaway, though, thanks to two recent Yale University Press books about Venetian architecture.  We also recently learned that one of our summer interns spent time in

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Sustainable Venice

When read together, Venice from the Water and Venice & Vitruvius present a multi-sided picture of the complex history and fate of the famous floating city of Venice. In many ways, the books complement one another, engaging in the same subject through different perspectives and offering interrelated conclusions. This dynamic

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