Monthly Archives: March 2011

Constantinople v Rio

1846: on her travels around the world, the redoutable Austrian traveller Ida Pfeiffer visits Rio de Janeiro and finds much to displease. If only she were in Constantinople!

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Giotto’s circle

Surely one of the coollest auditions in history, Giotto‘s masterful response to the Pope’s request for evidence of his genius has long been a favourite story of mine.  Here it is in Italian, followed by my translation into quasi-Gibbonesque English. … Continue reading

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No-fly: for and against

The question whether the UN ought to authorise the imposition of no-fly zones over Libya has answers for and against, cynical and principled.  It is a case study in realpolitik, and the extent to which we should moderate it by … Continue reading

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Royal IQ

The present troubles of the Duke of York – a man to whom it had to be once explained how you put the rubbish out when you live in a terraced house – irresistably remind me of one of my … Continue reading

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