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Can you forgive him?

The story is a good one. Lady Anne was born in 1837 and died, in Egypt, in 1917. Her mother, Ada, who was connected with Babbage and his prototype computer, was Byron’s only legitimate child. Aged 32 and wealthy, Lady Anne was plucked off the shelf by the poet and philanderer Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. After

Cola versus curry

Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for her first volume of short stories. The Namesake is her first novel, graceful, funny and sad, its theme dislocation and the pain of building a new life in a different world. In building that new life, something must also be destroyed. After an arranged marriage, Ashoke

The endurance of oracles

State constitutions throughout the ancient world were designed to imitate the order of the universe. Their model was an esoteric code of number, harmony and proportion which was supposed to reflect the perfectly structured mind of the Creator. From this procedure came a form of society, like those of archaic Greece, where the nation was

Too much key, not enough novel

Susanna Moore’s fifth novel opens on board the Jupiter in February 1836, with the ladies — make that a capital ‘L’ — Eleanor and Harriet, together with their brother Henry (the incoming governor-general), en route to India. Storms rattle the halyards, rats scrabble at the sodden travelling library and Eleanor, our raisonneur, is somewhat put

The nations’ airy navies

When in 1890 Captain A. T. Mahan, United States Navy, produced his book on The Influence of Sea Power on History, 1660-1783, it made a world-wide sensation and had important historical consequences; both Germany and Japan took note, and set out to build great navies. There is now room for a book on the influence

Grenada’s crowning glory

Four years ago this author gave us Night & Horses & the Desert, an anthology of classical Arabic literature, all brave deeds, high thinking and love, wit and wisdom — chivalry, in short — reminding why so many generations of the English have fallen madly in love with this culture that is now dead and

Both deep and dazzling

Rivalled only by the Rabbit novels, John Updike’s early stories — the 100 or so pieces of short fiction he wrote for magazines such as the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Magazine and Playboy between 1954 and 1975 — now seem very close to being the best things he has written, surely placing them