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beatriceotto, Author at www.writingredux.com
Call him Titus

Call him Titus

Baby Titus, born into a crumbling, rambling pile of stone, with parents of a warmth and tenderness approximately equivalent to the building material of their castle. Here is his mother, prescribing his care for the first five years of his life, at which point she will...
I shall teach the boy…

I shall teach the boy…

The Countess of Gormenghast ponders her personal curriculum for her newborn son, after despatching him to a régime of nanny-care for the first five years of his life.  She clearly has higher hopes for him than for his neglected sister.Her capacity for love is...
Seneca the Stoic

Seneca the Stoic

Erasmus’ triologism to describe Seneca as a dyed in the wool Stoic.  I prefer the alliteration of ‘double-dyed’. ‘Seneca, that double-dyed Stoic.’   Source: Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), Praise of Folly, trans. Roger Clarke...
Twain on technology

Twain on technology

This simile was devised by Mark Twain to account for his inability to use Edison’s new-fangled recording phonograph as a means of dictating his writing.  He clearly needed technology that could answer back. Curious to see the devil depicted as unsmiling, as he...
Love bade me…

Love bade me…

One of the most beautiful English poems, of great simplicity and generosity, by George Herbert.  Much of his poetry is religious but his expansiveness means that they can and do still resonate with people who aren’t particularly religious.  Love features largely...
Where every word starts with ‘a’

Where every word starts with ‘a’

I love Mandelstam’s poetic summary of place, here the city of Sukhum, where he says every word starts with A and you should start your study of Caucasian alphabets. ‘Sukhum: a city of mourning, tobacco, and fragrant vegetable oils.  Here is where one...
Footing the bullet bill

Footing the bullet bill

This is half funny, half awful – your country of birth, having given you the death sentence, hounds you in exile with bills to cover the cost of your eventual execution. In the event, they left him in (one) peace. He was, by the way, the Principal Librarian of...
Cumbrian sheep counting

Cumbrian sheep counting

Rory Stewart came across these numerals, apparently still used to count sheep by Cumbrian farmers.  They trot off the tongue like spring lambs, skippety, hoppity, gambol and stop: ‘yan, tan, tethera, methera, pimp, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick,...
Honeyed hope

Honeyed hope

Sounds lovely, although Erasmus uses it to refer to the hare-brained gold, elixir or immortality quests of alchemists.  One more class of people exposed by Folly from her pulpit as being among her principal adherents. ‘Captivated by honey-sweet hope, they never...
Girders like insect legs

Girders like insect legs

An unexpected way to convey the chaotic structural metalwork of half-finished buildings.  From Rory Stewart’s engaging account of his walk across Afghanistan. ‘On the flat roofs of half-finished shopping arcades, bare girders clustered like dead insect...
The history of books

The history of books

An idea so intrinsic to reading books, particularly those you love and remember, that I had never consciously thought of it.  Here, Michael Rosen describes his first encounter with a children’s classic, and it made me recall early encounters with some beloved...
Argumentative authenticity

Argumentative authenticity

You can’t help admiring people said to be as authentic as argumentative, including in themselves, and in their art and architecture. This from a slender, entertaining and masterful look at one of the great Roman poets, and his continuing relevance to our lives...

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