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  • Dare-Nots May 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dare-Nots

    Beach fluttered around the edges of an Italian project a few years ago that affected him profoundly. A series of interviews were collected from families who had suffered violence at the hands of the partisans at the end of the Second World War. The vast majority of these partisans, particularly in Emiglia-Romagna and Tuscany, had been […]

    Cellini and the Salamander May 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Cellini and the Salamander

    ***Dedicated to Michael F who sent this in*** We last saw Benvenuto Cellini (obit 1571) imprinted on a French/Spanish/Scottish canon. Fourteen months on, here is a little doodle from Cellini’s infancy, judging by his autobiography the happiest years of his chaotic life. When I was about five years old [c. 1505] my father happened to […]

    The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic May 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic

    Beachcombing has often celebrated in this place lost books and burning libraries. Today he wants to celebrate a book that while not lost (it can be found in a modern edition on the top shelves of academic institutions around the world) got through to us by the skin of its erotic teeth. Beach refers, of course, to  I […]

    Marco Polo and Pasta May 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Marco Polo and Pasta

    ***Dedicated to Zach Nowak and Beach’s good friends over at FoodinItaly*** The lunatic idea that Marco Polo brought back spaghetti from China to grateful Italians is a modern food myth. There is no proof for this in MP’s writing: though there is an interpolated passage that might have started the confusion. In fact, the idea […]

    Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero’s Rotating Dining Room? May 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero's Rotating Dining Room?

    Beach’s reading today comes from Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, Nero (31) There was nothing however in which [Nero] was more ruinously prodigal than in building. He made a palace extending all the way from the Palatine to the Esquiline, which at first he called the House of Passage, but when it was burned shortly […]

    Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper May 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper

    Giordano Bruno (pictured badly) was a sixteenth-century philosopher with a thing about infinity. Giordano also had an infinite capacity to create irritation. Indeed, his travels around Europe have a fascinating pattern of greeting, slighting and sprinting. Typically, GB is obliged to leave his last home in a hurry because of offence caused to the church […]

    Lost in Transmission May 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Lost in Transmission

    Words echo through the centuries like coins dropped down an infinite well. And as they are passed on they are smoothed and confused in the mouths of the people. The best examples we have of this are, of course, placenames: in the space of eighty generations Londinium becomes London, Mamucium becomes Manchester and Euboricum becomes […]

    The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

    Pyramids in Italy April 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pyramids in Italy

    The pyramids of the Etruscan king Porsenna (fl c. 500 BC) are one of the great mysteries of antiquity. What does this passage ‘mean’? What did they really look like (try and visualise them)? Where were they? Hell, did they ever really exist? [Porsenna] was buried below the city of Clusium in the place where […]

    Chickpeas, Menstrual Blood and Witchcraft April 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chickpeas, Menstrual Blood and Witchcraft

    Beach offers today for contemplation this extraordinary early modern text from De morbis ueneficis ac ueneficiis (1595) by Battista Codronchi (obit 1628), a practical guide to dealing with witch’s spells. In this book BC explains a curious personal experience that led him to undertake his study: an illness that struck his baby daughter Francesca. Beach […]

    Suicide and Historical Loopholes April 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Suicide and Historical Loopholes

    Suicide has proved abhorrent to most spiritual traditions. Certainly, the great monotheistic religions and most of the far Eastern religions have condemned ‘self-murder': cue lots of pulpit bashing and descriptions of hell or unpleasant reincarnations. This begs the question though of what you can do if you live in 500 BC or 500 AD or […]

    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked? April 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked?

    Beach is not waving but drowning in the flood of work, but the summer is coming closer and – oh wonderful – closer. Soon he’ll be able to settle down to four months of light teaching and heavy research. Most of the cherry-blossom time will be given over to fairies. However, Beach has also been […]

    Britain’s Obsession with the Second World War March 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Britain's Obsession with the Second World War

    Anyone who knows Britain will be aware of the constant references to the Second World War in the island’s political culture, particularly when  national sovereignty is at stake. Harold Wilson decried appeals to ‘the Dunkirk Spirit': and then shamelessly used the same trick himself. And the recent spats over Britain’s use of its ‘veto’ within […]

    Perrottet: Sinners’ Grand Tour March 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Perrottet: Sinners' Grand Tour

    Tony Perrottet, The Sinner’s Grand Tour: Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe (2011 in paperback) Broadly-speaking all humans have three reactions to forms of sexual activity: (i) frenzy, (ii) comic indifference or (iii) disgust. Beachcombing, for example, has to (i) contain himself when confronted with sultry Mediterranean beauty. He finds it (ii) amusing that […]

    Escaped Lions March 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Escaped Lions

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Lions are striking animals and it is only natural that, through the ages, zoos and circuses have kept them to impress their clientele. They are also hardy creatures that makes them easier to keep alive than, say, the giraffe or a rhino. But they are dangerous and if they […]

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