Churches are difficult buildings to interpret. A lot of studies I’ve read tend to treat them as unique, almost sui generis structures that can’t be judged by the aesthetic criterion used for other kinds of buildings. At the heart of this is the challenge of marrying their function and their physical layout - we know broadly
Kerry Brown reviews Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun: Sino-Japanese Relations Past and Present by June Teufel Dreyer
The late Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew once typified the China-Japan relationship as one where, on one side (China's) nothing is forgotten, and on the other (Japan's) nothing is remembered. This neat summary comes towards the end of June Teufel Dreyer's comprehensive overview of the relationship - Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising
For a literary accompaniment to Nordic noir, or for those that like novels full of hunts in darkened fields, . . . this is a pretty remarkable work. Just don’t read it too late at night when no one else is in the house!
While wandering around China in late September last year, on the interminable bus and high speed train journeys, I managed to read through my colleague at King’s College, John Bew’s new biography of Clement Attlee, Citizen Clem (Quercus 2016). This is an Amazon affiliate link for your convenience. We also encourage you to buy from
Kerry Brown reviews All Out War: The Story of How Brexit Sunk Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
The Chinese Year of the Rooster is apparently – it being a fire rooster we are talking about – the year to bring things to fulfilment but not to instigate them. Anyone searching for a text book on how not to implement or achieve might care to look through the hundreds of pages of All Out
Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics (Bodley Head 2016) is about a very important subject, and Mark Thompson outlines that reasonably enough. Public discourse now is degraded – or so Thompson believes. We only have to witness the linguistic carnage that occurred during the recent elections in the US. Public trust in
Kerry Brown reviews The Tale of the Axe: How the Neolithic Revolution Transformed Britain by David Miles
In the wet spring of 1991, I spent a week travelling around ancient earthworks and Iron Age forts. It was a somewhat esoteric interest I had developed then with a friend, and we managed to haul my ramshackle Ford to places like Maiden Castle, Cadbury (regarded as a likely candidate for the Arthurian Camelot - if
I enjoyed reading David Herd’s Through (Carcanet Press 2016), a collection of poetry assembled from some events and other publications and put under one cover. That gives an opportunity to appreciate their shared themes and concerns, despite their diverse provenances. “Who Leaves the Language”, the opening sequence, refers constantly to an issue that Herd has made
Søren Kierkegaard has been a figure that I have felt, since first encountering his work during a year trying to study philosophy at Cambridge in the mid-1980s, I should have liked more. The themes, the literary treatment, the playful use of pseudonyms, and the relentless focus on humanity's religious fate, were all powerful and appealing themes.
Kerry Brown reviews Story of the Stone, or Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, translated by David Hawkes and John Minford
For me, 2017 will go down as the year I finally managed to make it through the David Hawkes and John Minford five volume translation of the Story of the Stone – （石头记) or , as it is more famously known, Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼 梦) (Penguin 1973–1986) by the Qing writer Cao Xueqin