Country Houses, Oral Cultures, Hamilton, Disraeli, Translation

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

How Beautiful They Stand

Miranda Seymour | Literary Review | 2nd June 2016

The stately homes of England waned between the wars, but not for want of gaiety. Philip Sassoon added gold drainpipes at Trent Park, and a Moorish courtyard at Port Lympne like “a Spanish brothel”. Cecil Beaton wore egg whites for a fête champêtre at Ashcombe in 1937. The Duke of Devonshire “managed to shoot a chef, a guest and a dog” while aiming at a grounded Chatsworth pheasant. Adrian Tinniswood’s history of the period, The Long Weekend, is “almost indecently enjoyable” (1,250 words)

Philosophy And Oral Cultures

Justin Smith | Aeon | 1st June 2016

The argument is strained — that philosophy “disdains” oral cultures by valuing only written words — but the observations about spoken versus written knowledge are interesting throughout. If oral argument was good enough for Socrates, and Socrates is one of our greatest philosophers even at second hand, are we quite sure that something wasn’t lost as well as gained in the shift to writing? Is there a philosophy of the woods and fields, equal to that of the cities? (1,300 words)


Joe Posnanski | 29th May 2016

In which the writer takes his daughter to the show. “The thing about seeing Hamilton right now, at its peak moment, is that even before it begins, the theater is filled with wonder. Every single person would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. As a sportswriter, I often feel that sort of energy at the biggest events, at the Masters or the Super Bowl or the Olympics. People look at each other with the same wide-eyed expression: Can you believe we’re here?” (2,900 words)

The Last Court Jew

David Cesarani | Tablet | 1st June 2016

Benjamin Disraeli triumphed in politics and high society despite “the persistence and sheer volume of prejudice he experienced throughout his life” for his Jewish birth. Relatively speaking he “lived in a time of innocence”. “Race science” had not been invented. His Jewishness was a target for sneering rivals, but it also “added to his allure”. “His hybridity gave him license to be unconventional; it was the perfect complement to the image of the dandy, the Bohemian, the poet and wit” (3,631 words)


Janet Malcolm | New York Review of Books | 2nd June 2016

Janet Malcolm warns that she speaks no Russian, but holds forth nonetheless on the relative merits of translators of Russian classics from Constance Garnett to Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Garnett set the bar high with her “fine English”, “urgent forward-moving sentences”, and “feeling for words”. Pevear and Volokhonsky, per contra, “have established an industry of taking everything they can get their hands on written in Russian and putting it into flat, awkward English” (3,030 words)

Video of the day: Brian Eno: The Dick Flash Interview

What to expect:

“Like all the finest interviews, this one leaves us with more questions than answers” (9’31”)

Thought for the day

You have to act in defiance of criticism, and this is gradually accepted
JW von Goethe

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