Archive for 2008

All the articles posted on this website can be found here, organised in chronological sequence according to their date of writing or first publication.

Hardware store, Marfa, Texas,  22 January 2004

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Nostalgia and the Shapes of History »

June 13th, 2008 | Posted in: News and Previews (past)

Iron Curtain at the Hay Festival »

May 30th, 2008 | Posted in: News and Previews (past)

‘Bach’s Christmas Music in England and in Germany’ by Vernon Lee »

May 27th, 2008 | Posted in: Articles General, Found Objects, War & peace

This is the long-forgotten article in which the iron curtain was first taken from the theatre and converted into a political metaphor. It was published in the London-based Suffragist magazine Jus Suffragii, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1 January 1915, p. 218. I count it among the key writings of the First World War. It can also be read – against Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and other latter-day polemicists – as an example of how secular-minded and even atheist writers may engage religious subjects without merely resorting to furious denial. An account of Vernon Lee and her article’s sources, context and influence is given in my book Iron Curtain: from stage to Cold War.

Emanuel Litvinoff’s Journey Through a Small Planet »

May 24th, 2008 | Posted in: Articles in Books, London, News and Previews (past)

‘When I was nineteen the whole world flashed around my ears, all my false standards of values crumbled, everything that I had been sure of – the touch and quality of stone, the meaning of eating and sleeping and suffering, the texture of civilisation, all collapsed and left me in darkness. The world no longer existed. I was dead in some nightmarish way. . .’

–Emanuel Litvinoff to his younger brother Barnet, 9 July 1940.

1968: where have all the thinkers gone? »

May 20th, 2008 | Posted in: News and Previews (past)

Time to rewrite your lecture notes, Charles King »

April 25th, 2008 | Posted in: Articles General, Themes

A letter published in the Times Literary Supplement.

Real England? Reflections on Broadway Market »

April 21st, 2008 | Posted in: Articles General, Englishness and British national identity

Over the years many people have tried to list the essential characteristics of Englishness, but what about the sense of threat and danger that so often serves to frame such lists? I wrote this article for Made in England, a website based on a collaboration between the BBC and Arts Council England and launched on 23 April 2008

Lighten up on the khaki – Solomon J. Solomon’s advice to the War Department »

March 10th, 2008 | Posted in: Found Objects, Potemkinism and Camouflage

‘It has to be remembered that throughout this war our men are moving in a more or less easterly direction…’

Solomon J. Solomon was a prominent Anglo-Jewish artist and portrait painter who went on to pioneer various schemes of camouflage in the First World War. It was in this letter to the editor of The Times, published on 27 January, 1915, that he first indicated the contribution that artists might make to a war in which traditional methods of concealment had been invalidated by the coming of aerial photography. Here applied to the question of military uniform, his novel recommendations are indebted to the idea of ‘countershading’ developed by the American artist Abbott H. Thayer in the earlier study, Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (1909). Solomon’s letter is followed by another, written by an ‘artist and big-game shot’ who signed himself ‘W.W.’, and printed two days later. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘camouflage’ did not enter English usage until 1917.

‘The Führer gives a village to the Jews’ »

February 19th, 2008 | Posted in: Found Objects, Potemkinism and Camouflage

A Nazi propaganda film made in Terezin (Theresienstadt), a fortress and town in the Czech Republic where the Nazis concentrated Jewish prisoners before transporting them to Auschwitz. The director, Kurt Gerrin, was himself a prisoner. Like the rest of the cast, he was taken to Auschwitz and murdered shortly after these scenes were shot in 1944.

On Peter Fleming’s rook rifle »

February 12th, 2008 | Posted in: Englishness and British national identity, Found Objects

‘Mr. Money-Coutts evidently belongs to the “keep a bullet for the woman” school, and has no doubt shot his way out of many a tight corner among the savage nomads of Hertfordshire…’

A correspondence from The Times, London, 20 November – 2 December, 1935.