The enigmas of islands

Phantom Islands – In Search of Mythical Lands Dirk Liesemer, trans. by Peter Lewis, London: Haus Publishing, 2019, £14.99 Dirk Liesemer is a writing Wandervögel, an epistolary inheritor of the romantically- imagined movement that flourished in Germany between the late nineteenth century and 1933. The ‘wandering birds’ took their inspiration from medieval myths, and made… Continue reading

Dr. Johnson in Scotland – An Englishman in his Near Abroad

DR. JOHNSON IN SCOTLAND –  AN ENGLISHMAN IN HIS NEAR ABROAD Samuel Johnson was nearly sixty-four when he made an unexpected journey. One day in 1773, the internationally-renowned lexicographer, essayist, poet, and novelist, who somehow combined being one of the great thinkers of Europe with being a personification of bluff Englishness, suddenly switched his great… Continue reading

Star Wars, star wares

Star Wars, star wares How Star Wars Conquered the Universe Chris Taylor, London: Head of Zeus, 2015 In 1977, like millions of other prepubescents, I trooped excitedly along to a cinema to see the first instalment of Star Wars. I was twelve, anxious about acne, fond of sci-fi comics, and sick with ruthless fantasies about remaking… Continue reading

John Aubrey – remembrancer, Romantic and forward-thinker

JOHN AUBREY – REMEMBRANCER, ROMANTIC AND FORWARD-THINKER John Aubrey, My Own Life Ruth Scurr, London: Chatto & Windus, 2015, hb., 518pp, £25 Just as English painting is renowned for portraiture, so English letters have been illuminated by some of the greatest biographers ever to burnish world literature. After Boswell, the best-known is John Aubrey (1626-1697),… Continue reading