Berfrois

The History of 16th-Century Narcoleptic Walruses

The History of 16th-Century Narcoleptic Walruses

Magnus wanted to present the North as an impenetrable region of wonders and marvels — flesh-eating Scricfinns, magicians, vast whirlpools, and flaming volcanoes — at the very edge of the known world.

Read More

Why was virtually no one prosecuted for causing the 2008 financial crisis?

Why was virtually no one prosecuted for causing the 2008 financial crisis?

After decades in which Wall Street masters of the universe were lionized in the media and popular culture, star investment bankers — rich, usually white men in nice suits — just don’t match the popular image of criminals.

Read More

Thomas Hardy was both drawn to city life and repelled by it…

Thomas Hardy was both drawn to city life and repelled by it…

Ford makes the convincing claim that London turned Hardy into ‘a modern type’ (a tag the novelist bestowed on Clym Yeobright in The Return of the Native); in city life

Read More

Ed Simon on More’s Map

Ed Simon on More’s Map

The sixteenth-century humanist polymath and martyr Thomas More’s neologism “Utopia” literally translates to “No Place,” and yet the author had a detailed and concrete conception of the invented kingdom which bore that name.

Read More

The Metaphysics of Handiwork; or, How Aristotle Conquered America

The Metaphysics of Handiwork; or, How Aristotle Conquered America

The debate between Juan Gines de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de Las Casas held in Valladolid, Spain in 1550 was the culmination of some forty years of agonizing policy discussions over the rights of Spain to the New World.

Read More

Ed Simon on American Jezebels

Ed Simon on American Jezebels

In 1637, Mary Dyer of Boston gave a monstrous birth and its midwife was Anne Hutchinson. Both were Puritans of-a-kind: Hutchinson the notorious advocate of the so-called “covenant of free grace,” she of the antinomian controversy.

Read More

Success proved to be Gogol’s undoing…

Success proved to be Gogol’s undoing…

Literature shaped the political culture of the Russia in which Vladimir Ilyich Lenin grew up. Explicitly political texts were difficult to publish under the tsarist regime.

Read More

Hunter Marston: The Long Shadow of Secret Warfare

Hunter Marston: The Long Shadow of Secret Warfare

Kurlantzick tells the story of the secret war in Laos through the stories of four individuals who shaped the conflict on the ground.

Read More

Sterile and Tuneless

Sterile and Tuneless

For all of six weeks in the spring of 1891, Claire Saint (close friend of Laura Marx) was an enthused member of the proto-Situationist International group, the Hampstead Tree-Huggers.

Read More

People With Their Walking Sticks

People With Their Walking Sticks

Münsing (population scarcely 4,200) is among the towns that lie along the Starnberger See, a large lake where, in 1886, King Ludwig II of Bavaria was found dead, strangled, together with his doctor.

Read More

Eric D. Lehman: The Hartford Wits and Literary History

Eric D. Lehman: The Hartford Wits and Literary History

The architects of the American literary canon have always struggled between aesthetics and the demands of historicity. The Hartford Wits are a sad example of how this tension has become lopsided in favor of aesthetic currency, practically erasing this important group from critical study.

Read More

Nude Ladies

Nude Ladies

The word “ink” is a child of the Latin incaustum, which means “having been burned.” In the Middle Ages, people thought that ink burned its way into parchment.

Read More

Tea and Buns

Tea and Buns

Maxim Gorky was thirty-two when he befriended Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, who was seventy-two and well into his heretical-prophet phase after a prolonged spiritual crisis decades earlier.

Read More

DIVORCE MILL GRINDS

DIVORCE MILL GRINDS

It was one of the Franco-American scandals of the 1920s. It brought Americans on an eastward ho to undo in Paris what had been wrought in America.

Read More

Mussolini positioned his regime as far more amenable than republican France to America’s new hegemony…

Mussolini positioned his regime as far more amenable than republican France to America’s new hegemony…

One of the obstacles to acknowledging the amicable relationship between Wall Street and Italian fascism was the commonplace view of the interwar period as an era of economic nationalism.

Read More

They could only party at the Germans’ behest…

They could only party at the Germans’ behest…

So unprepared had France been for defeat that resistance had had no time to organise in these early days and those who did want to act against the Nazis didn’t know how.

Read More

‘Catholic religion and anticlericalism were passionately bound up in the battle’

‘Catholic religion and anticlericalism were passionately bound up in the battle’

In the first few months of 1936, Spanish society was highly fragmented. There was uneasiness between factions and, as was happening all over Europe with the possible exception of the United Kingdom, the rejection of liberal democracy in favour of authoritarianism was rife.

Read More