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4 october 2015

Henry V is a grand and stirring play, and at times an objectionable one, and it crystallizes for me what I find both progressive and reactionary about Shakespeare – and maybe offers a clue about why the play still appeals to so many readers and viewers who are mixtures of progressive and reactionary tendencies. Like me, I'm sure.     read more

3 october 2015

I expected there to be some gimmick to Water: A Global History, Ian Miller's contribution to the Reaktion Edible series. Maybe it would be about water-based cuisines, soups and stews and the like. Maybe it would be about boiling and steaming and braising – or more specialized water cuisine that I've enjoyed over the years, like Chinese white-cooking and Italian acqua pazza. But no, it's about potable water. That seems rather general, but as Miller points out, plain potable water is in unusually large supply these days, and has never been something that humanity has been able to take for granted for long.     read more

2 october 2015

Gary Allen's global history of sausage at times amounts to little more than an annotated list of sausage varieties from around the world; but that makes for delicious reading.     read more

29 september 2015

As You Like It is a lovely and lucid play, one of the most famous of Shakespeare's, one of the most frequently performed, one of those that I've read and seen most often. It is the quintessence of what C.L. Barber famously called "festive comedy." Things are going wrong in the political and personal worlds of all the characters. They abscond to a magical forest, everything starts going right, they all find partners and they all return and live happily ever after.     read more