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  • A Werewolf in 1960s Italy January 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Werewolf in 1960s Italy

    Regular readers will know that Beachcombing has no great love for sociologists, who are to historians (or should be to historians) what garlic is to a vampire. However, he makes an exception for Belden Paulson’s brilliant The Searchers (1966) a description of life in a small Italian town, Castelfuoco (not its real name!), in the […]

    Atlantis in the Far East January 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Atlantis in the Far East

    Naive Beachcombing set out in an earlier post his ambition to create a list of all the locations in the world that have been claimed over the years as the ‘true’ Atlantis. However, while writing this piece over Christmas he ran into a problem that he had not frankly anticipated. There are just so many places that […]

    The End of the Werewolf Faith in Strasburg January 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The End of the Werewolf Faith in Strasburg

    Beachcombing recently examined the death of the fairy faith in the Yorkshire town of Ilkley and sold it to his readers as a melancholy moment in that community’s history. Today he thought, instead, that he would give evidence for the beginning of the end of faith in were-wolves in the area around Strasburg (‘Germany’ or […]

    The Ass Who Became a Saint January 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ass Who Became a Saint

    Yesterday Beachcombing visited the doghead legend of St Christopher and today, in sympathy for that early canine holyman he thought that he would recount the remarkable canonization of an ass. The version that Beachcoming is about to give appears in a rather obscure but very worthwhile book: The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce (1831) describing the doings of […]

    The Dog-Headed Saint January 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Dog-Headed Saint

      St Christopher is in many ways a typical early eastern saint. He was for many years a prisoner of war: check. He was a Roman soldier when he turned to Christ: check. His staff miraculously took to life and began to bloom: check. An angel – Raphael no less – gave him the gift of speaking […]

    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres January 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres

    Beachcombing has had the novel experience, in these days of premature babies, of watching lots of history documentaries. It is one of the few things that you can do while syringe feeding a fifteen-day-old tot and hoping that she will sleep. After years of staying away from television, he’s been treated to a lot of sub-standard stuff, but […]

    Last Will and Testament of a Pig January 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Last Will and Testament of a Pig

    Beachcombing ran across a curious little work today: the Testamentum Porcelli, Will of a Pig. It is possible that he read it many years ago because it seemed vaguely familiar: there is certainly something pleasingly grotesque in its words – a bit Roald Dahl – that brought Beachcombing back to his early 20s when Beach drank too […]

    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand January 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand

    What do Beachcombing and Osama Bin Laden have in common? Diabetes? Permanent facial hair? Exclusive education in London? Start up fund from the CIA? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is, of course, a love of Al-Andalus. Al Andalus, as Osama himself would tell us were he a blogger, was the last Muslim kingdom […]

    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly January 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly

      Crag Monson, Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art and Arson in the Convents of Italy (University of Chicago 2010) Mrs B. bade farewell, a decade ago, to a Catholic friend who had decided to pass into a nunnery in the Swiss Alps. Giulia, then in her twenties, said goodbye to family and […]

    Plato’s Atlantis after Plato January 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plato's Atlantis after Plato

        Was or wasn’t Atlantis a creation of Plato (obit 347/348 BC)? In antiquity as today – see Beachcombing’s previous ravings – there were competing views with the majority including Poseidonius and Aristotle (or pseudo-Aristotle?) believing it a myth. Aristotle as a student of Plato has particular authority and his opinion reported in Strabo unnerves […]

    Epiphany Gift: War In Dollyland January 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Epiphany Gift: War In Dollyland

    As Beachcombing noted yesterday (click here, if you dare, for Beachcombian reflections) he has prepared a gift for the WWW this snowy epiphany: War in Dollyland in all its glory. Textual notes: the following was copied from the 1915 original with some care leaving eccentric or antiquated spellings in place. The only change that Beachcombing has made is […]

    Prelude to Epiphany: Fitzgerald in the Trenches January 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Prelude to Epiphany: Fitzgerald in the Trenches

    For Beachcombing a canonical text on the First World War is chapter thirteen of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. Here FSF gets as close as anyone ever has to explaining why European civilisation committed suicide in 1915 and 1916. Dick and his party, including the vapid Rosemary have come to visit the First World War […]

    Mary Anning and the Fire from Heaven January 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mary Anning and the Fire from Heaven

    Beachcombing is in disgrace tonight for accidentally sitting on ten-day-old Tiny Miss B – she was wrapped in a duvet on a sofa and Beachcombing homes in on comfort wherever it is to be found. Beachcombing will expiate his guilt by writing about Mary Anning (obit 1847), the fossil hunter and an extraordinary fire-from-the-heavens episode […]

    Image: Executing Christ January 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Executing Christ

                              The Spanish Civil War… the junction of the twentieth century. Often sold as the beginning of the Second World War it was, in reality, the last blast of an older nineteenth-century battle, the battle between left and right. Once Barcelona had fallen […]

    Fairy Death in Ilkley January 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Death in Ilkley

    There is a melancholy time in rural communities when belief in fairies dies – a moment in a village life comparable to the moment in a child’s life when he sees his grandfather’s face behind the Santa beard. Wentz examined this fairy death in Ireland and Scotland and Wales in The Fairy Faith in Celtic […]

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