Extracts from the Apr 2004 Journal

Exodus and retro-exodus (editorial)

In this month of commemorating the Exodus from Pharaonic Egypt it may not be inappropriate to reflect on exodus as a recurring theme in our historical experience. [more...]

Disparate Caribbean neighbours

Haiti, which has recently moved briefly into the headlines, holds a few sad records. It is one of the world's poorest countries with probably the highest illiteracy rate. But it was also the first country in which a slave population rose against the colonial plantation owners and achieved short-lived independence under Toussaint L'Overture two centuries ago. [more...]

Where is the great refugee novel?

One of the outstanding features of the publishing scene in recent years has been the success of immigrant novels. Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Monica Ali's Brick Lane - the one about Pakistanis and West Indians, the other about Bangladeshis - are obvious cases in point. Their subject matter - the culture clash of newcomers from the Third World with the host society - is found to interest a wide readership. [more...]

Sebastian Flyte, Meet Albert Einstein ... (Part 2)

When Einstein decided against taking up the position offered to him at Christ Church, he expressed the wish that his stipend be used to fund posts for Jewish academics dismissed from German universities by the Nazis. That wish played its part in creating a continuing connection between the Jewish refugees and Oxford's grandest college. [more...]

Art Notes

He was born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in 1541, but the Cretan artist, better known as El Greco - the Greek - who fell under the spell of Titian and Tintoretto in Venice in 1568, and Michelangelo in Rome two years later, had an independence of vision which put him into a class of his own. For nearly 300 years after his death he was consigned to obscurity, but his artistic individuality came to life again in the late nineteenth century. The painter is celebrated in a new exhibition until 23 May at the National Gallery, where his incandescent and fearless use of colour, light and form not only prefigured Impressionists like Picasso and Cézanne, but inspired later modernists, such as Jackson Pollock. And we're talking about a true sixteenth-seventeenth-century Renaissance man. [more...]


Göttingen: Die Werkschaft, 2003, 508 pp. [more...]

Letter from Israel

You are driving along the highway. The car in front of you indicates it is about to turn right, but turns left. Without any warning, another car cuts across your bows and turns right. The driver of the truck you are overtaking puts his foot on the accelerator and speeds away from you and just then you are overtaken by a bus. Anyone looking for a quick route to a nervous breakdown need only drive on Israel's roads. [more...]