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  • Why Isn’t Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening? April 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Why Isn't Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening?

    In appalling fevered sleeps during a recent bout of flu – an approximation of hell – Beach dreamt constantly of fairies and witches. This had nothing to do with two fairy horror books he had supplied himself with – Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy (1999) and A Kind of Enchantment (2012) – and everything, instead, […]

    Review: Secret of Kells March 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Review: Secret of Kells

    Part of being a twenty-first century parent involves the ability to watch cartoons repeatedly with your children (discuss). Most of these cartoons are trash. A minority are witty: Mega Mind, Toy Story… And a  handful – Shrek, Bambi, Totoro, Kiki the Witch… – make modern art house films look like third-rate romantic comedies: they really […]

    History and Teenagers March 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    History and Teenagers

    The majority of readers of this blog are from North America and so they might not be aware that historians in Britain are presently fighting each other. The question that is causing all the raucous is how teens should be taught about history: the battlefield is British history but there is clearly here a much […]

    The Voting Diaspora February 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Voting Diaspora

    A diaspora is, of course, the citizens of a country who live outside their homeland but who still have a strong or residual loyalty to the patria. Diasporas have long mattered in history because they end up influencing the foreign policy of their adopted countries and, all too often, the domestic agendas of their countries […]

    Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall February 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall

    The latest in the Love Goddesses series is this wonderful shrine to carnal and spiritual soul-touching that appeared in the city of love, Paris, in Montmartre no less, in 2000. The artist, Frédéric Baron, assembled the words ‘I love you’ in 311 languages (280 by some counts) and then got a colleague and ‘oriental calligrapher’ […]

    Italy’s Weird Languages February 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Italy's Weird Languages

    Italy is chaotic not just in day-to-day but also in geographical terms. The Apennines that come down from the Alps dominate most of the country and separate out the peninsula into two hundred semi-independent shangrilas. The result is that Italy has always been doomed to social, cultural and linguistic division. Italian itself, the ‘dialect’ of […]

    Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Review: Running with the Fairies

    Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

    Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia! January 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia!

    ***Dedicated to Invisible*** Part of humanity’s long flirtation with the landscape has been the idea that a given locality is a woman. While not universal this repeats itself in many religious systems and sometimes has even made its way into the modern world through placenames. So, in Britain hill, mountain and spur names frequently refer […]

    CCSVI: The Limits of Placebo January 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    CCSVI: The Limits of Placebo

    CCSVI is a medical condition that may or that may not explain one of the most mysterious and debilitating illnesses on the planet, Multiple Sclerosis. We look at it here because it is yet another example of a strange-history theme, the difficulty that new knowledge has in emerging against a strong orthodoxy, something that is […]

    The Black Dossier and an Invisible Library January 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Black Dossier and an Invisible Library

    Invisible Libraries, veterans of this site will know, are libraries that have only ever existed in the human imagination. Previous examples have included: Dickens’ study door, volumes in a computer game (Skyrim) and H.P. Lovecraft’s extra horrors, alluded to throughout his opera. Today’s new contribution are Alan Moore’s fantasy titles offered in his Black Dossier, […]

    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain December 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain

    Let’s face it. If you want a good wine the last thing you will do is head off to the supermarket and buy an English brand. The idea is almost comic. French, Italian, yes. Australian, Californian, Hungarian, perhaps. But English grapes freezing their pips off on a vine in the Midlands, where not enough sun […]

    Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love December 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love

    ***One more chapter to go… Sorry again for answered emails. Also the internet connection is playing up so this may be the last chance I have to write before Christmas. If so happy Noel*** Traditions are invented constantly and love is a major human interest: hence the custom in Verona Italy of leaving love letters […]

    Lazarus Plants December 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Lazarus Plants

    When we think of the vegetables, flowers and fruit of our ancestors we probably most easily imagine students with trowels retrieving pips from coprolites: not a happy occupation. But actually there is another kind of retrieval and that is sending botanists out into the woods and fields to look for any plants that have somehow […]

    Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3 December 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3

    Ponte Vecchio’s transformation from kitschy chocolate box cover medieval bridge to unlikely love goddess was unexpected. But it has happened nonetheless. In the last ten years many young Tuscan couples have made the pilgrimage there to cement their love. The ritual is long and complicated. The couple in question first go to a hardware store […]

    Music in the Woods and Vocation December 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Music in the Woods and Vocation

    A Jungian psychologist somewhere on the west coast of the US has a patient, an elderly woman who feels dissatisfied with her life, which she believes that she has wasted. After hours of going through her past he comes to what he believes was the key moment. In her childhood she had been out playing […]

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