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The Cultural Tutor

A beautiful education.

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Areopagus Volume LXXVI

Areopagus Volume LXXVI Welcome one and all to the seventy sixth volume of the Areopagus — simultaneously the closing of 2023 (I wrote it "last year") and the opening of 2024! But first, as they say, I interrupt your broadcast to make an important announcement: this will be the last Areopagus until February. There are some projects at hand that demand full attention. And so it would be a disservice to you, my Gentle and Perceptive Readers, were I to divide my attention between those projects...

about 2 months ago • 30 min read

Areopagus Volume LXXV Welcome one and all to the seventy fifth volume of the Areopagus. Winter is at the door; the Solstice has passed and with it many an ancient festival is upon us. Jollity, mystery, sanctity, loneliness, passion — 'tis a season for feelings many and all deep. It was John Milton that first came to mind when, in the cheerful chaos of London, I saw the Christmas lights today: Ring out ye crystal spheres!Once bless our human ears (If ye have power to touch our senses so)And...

2 months ago • 20 min read

Areopagus Volume LXIV Welcome one and all to the seventy fourth volume of the Areopagus. Something different this week. People often ask me what books I would recommend. Inasmuch as I have any right to do such a thing, that is what I have chosen to do. And so, it being the Christmas Season, I offer you a metaphorical "advent calendar" of twenty four books. Some of them you may recognise from previous volumes of the Areopagus; others, I suspect, will be completely new. The criteria for my...

2 months ago • 31 min read

Areopagus Volume LXXII Welcome one and all to the seventy second volume of the Areopagus. As the waves of the sea are constant in their crashing but inconstant in their volume, last week's maelstrom shall by followed this week by a gentler swell. To the extent that I can, then, I have endeavoured to keep things brief. And to "kick things off", as they say, I offer you the wisdom of Hafiz, the great Persian poet of the 14th century who lived and died and composed his sumptuous verses in the...

3 months ago • 27 min read

Areopagus Volume LXXI Welcome one and all to the seventy first volume of the Areopagus, arriving in your inboxes on this very first day of December. For some of you this signals the approach of summer and of warmer days to come! For me, at least, where I am, it foretells of frost and snow. A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,Ten thousand paths, with no person's tracks.A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,Fishing alone in the cold river snow. This was written by Liu Zhongyuan, a Chinese...

3 months ago • 33 min read

Areopagus Volume LXX Welcome one and all to the seventieth volume of the Areopagus. No seven lessons this week. I have, instead, written for your perusal and critique and — I hope! — enjoyment, an essay. It was Michel de Montaigne, that solitary Frenchman, who invented the "essay" as we understand it today. Alone in his castle library in 16th century France, while Europe tore itself to pieces in the Wars of Religion, Montaigne set himself "trials" — essais in French, thus becoming essays in...

3 months ago • 18 min read

Areopagus Volume LXIX Welcome one and all to the sixty ninth volume of the Areopagus. So dark the nights, so brief the days! But I must confess that these late weeks of Autumn are always welcome to me. There is something about the darkness which lends itself to deeper thought and reflection, I find, and that it is the long and starless nights which make me most love the sun that rises and burns away the fogs of dawn. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that there are few things I love...

3 months ago • 22 min read

Areopagus Volume LXVIII Welcome one and all to the sixty eighth volume of the Areopagus. Tomorrow is the 11th November — Armistice Day, which marks the end of the First World War. Last year I dedicated an entire volume to it; this year, however, I shall but share with you a particularly moving poem written by the American poet Alan Seeger. He served with the French Foreign Legion and fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Seeger did not survive, but he has bequeathed to posterity some of...

4 months ago • 28 min read

Areopagus: Readers' Reading Recommendations Welcome one and all to another special instalment of the Areopagus. Although I delight in writing for you, I find it most delightful when you write for me. Not less than a fortnight ago I asked you this: What is one book you think everybody should read? As ever, you rose to the challenge. What I present for you in this edition is a compilation of your collective responses. Should any of you be lacking anything to read at the moment, or looking for...

4 months ago • 22 min read

Areopagus Volume LXVII Welcome one and all to the sixty seventh volume of the Areopagus. Sylvia Plath would have been ninety one today, and so it is to her inimitable verse that we shall turn for our tradition of preludic poetry. This, from a poem called Blackberrying, is, I think, a rather gripping vision of the sea: The only thing to come now is the sea.From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me, Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.These hills are too green and sweet to have...

4 months ago • 15 min read
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