HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism

Romanticism is one of the most important historical events of all time. Unlike a lot of what gets called history, romanticism isn’t a war or a piece of technology or a political event. It refers to the birth of a new set of ideas. It is about a mindset and a way of feeling. Romanticism […]

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Cultural Mining

Cultural Mining

Cultural mining describes the process by which the most valuable parts of culture by which we understand the arts, humanities and philosophy are recovered and made useful for our own times. In cultural mining the pratical sides of culture are carefully extracted, cleaned, blasted and remolded and then used to manufacture the mental tools that […]

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LITERATURE – Jane Austen

LITERATURE – Jane Austen

Jane Austen is loved mainly as a guide to fashionable life in the Regency period, but her own vision of her task was radically different. She was an ambitious and stern moralist. She was acutely conscience of human failings and wanted, through her novels, to make people less selfish and more reasonable. More dignified, and […]

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LITERATURE: Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka was a great chech writer who has come to own a part of the human emotional spectrum, which we can now call the Kafkaesque and which thanks to him we are able better to recognize and to gain a measure of perspective over and relief from. Kafka’s world isn’t pleasant. It feels in […]

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LITERATURE – Ralph Waldo Emerson

LITERATURE – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is the father of American literature. In a series of strikingly original essays, written in the mid-nineteenth century, he fundamentally changed the way that America saw its cultural and artistic possibilities, and he enabled a separation from transatlantic literary traditions. “We have listened too long…”, he wrote, “…to the Courtly muses of […]

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LITERATURE: Leo Tolstoy

LITERATURE: Leo Tolstoy

The Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy was a believer in the novel not as a source of entertainment but as a tool for psychological education and reform. It was in his eyes, the supreme medium by which we can get to know others especially those who might from the outside seem unappealing and thereby expand our […]

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LITERATURE – Goethe

LITERATURE – Goethe

People have always had trouble pronouncing his name; if you don’t speak German it’s not at all obvious how you’re supposed to say it. A safe bet is to start with a hard G on Ger- and end with a -ter: Ger-ter. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has often been seen as one of Europe’s big […]

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LITERATURE – Gustave Flaubert

LITERATURE – Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert was a great French 19th century novelist who deserves our love and sympathy as much for what he wrote as who he was. We can admire him for four reasons at least. Flaubert wrote arguably the single greatest tragic novel ever written, Madame Bovary, which he worked on for five years and published […]

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LITERATURE – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

LITERATURE – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A good trick, with his name, is to say ‘toy’ in the middle: Dos-toy-ev-ski. He was born 1821 and grew up on the outskirts of Moscow. His family were comfortably off – his father was a successful doctor, though he happened to work at a charitable hospital that provided medical services for the very poor. […]

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LITERATURE – Virginia Woolf

LITERATURE – Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was a writer concerned, above all, with capturing in words the excitement, pain, beauty, and horror of what she termed, the Modern Age. Born in 1882, she was conscious of herself as a distinctively modernist writer at odds with a raft of the staid and complacent assumptions of nineteenth-century English literature. She realized […]

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