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A divine guide to Dante

Reading Dante is an experience of a lifetime. You never come to the end of it. But,  like Dante himself, at large in the frightening wood, you need a companion for the journey, and it is difficult to imagine one more enlightening than Prue Shaw. The Emeritus Reader in Italian at the University of London,

The cold, remote plateau of Vichy France where good was done

It is with a heavy heart that I pick up anything to do with the Holocaust. Not because it’s wearisome or too familiar, or because — in Solzhenitzyn’s memorable phrase — you need only a mouthful of seawater to know the taste of the ocean. No: my reluctance to contemplate that world, even as a

Spoken For

What I want to tell you is I can dream with my eyes wide open, like riding a bicycle without hands down a tree-lined road, weaving in and out of shadow. What I count as treasure is a robin’s nest neatly cached in a corner of my windowbox, a tight squirm of five hatchlings, mum

Only tourists think of the Caribbean as a ‘paradise’

A couple of years ago in Jamaica, I met Errol Flynn’s former wife, the screen actress Patrice Wymore. Reportedly a difficult and withdrawn woman, her life in the Caribbean (apart from the few details she cared to volunteer) could only be guessed at. The Errol Flynn estate, an expanse of ranchland outside Port Antonio, was

The gentle intoxications of Laurie Lee

He was always lucky, and he knew it: lucky in the secure rural intimacy of the upbringing described in Cider with Rosie; in the love of some passionate, clever women, whose guidance and support get rather less than their due in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning; and in having survived the Spanish civil