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The Eclogues (Latin: Eclogae or Bucolica) are a collection of ten pastoral poems by the Roman poet Virgil. Though modelled on the Greek Idylls of Theocritus, they are innovative in their use of the form for social commentary, contrasting the Arcadian ideal with the troubled society of late republican Rome.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2021 at Tom's Learning Notes
Troilus and Criseyde is a Middle English epic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer. It belongs to the medieval literature known as the Matter of Rome, which embroidered on the classical myths. Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Persuasion is Jane Austen's last completed novel, published posthumously in 1818. The book's heroine, Anne Elliott is the daugher of a baronet in reduced circumstances, who rents his house to a relative of Anne's former fiancé. The eventual renewal of the engagement is the central example of the titular theme which unites many of the novel's subplots. Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Mansfield Park is an 1814 novel by Jane Austen, the third published during her lifetime. It's protagonist is Fanny Price, sent at ten years old to live with her aunt at Mansfield Park, where she is a literal poor relation among the fashionable younger set. Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a 1792 work by Mary Wollstonecraft, is one of the earliest modern statements of the case for political and social equality for women. Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Negotiators for the UK and the EU have today reached agreement on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland. As part of the deal, the UK will withdraw planned legislation that would have over-ridden international law. Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
Emma is an 1815 novel by Jane Austen, the last published during her lifetime. Unlike Austen's earlier heroines, the title character is wealthy enough to feel no need to marry, and occupies herself with matchmaking for others. Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Reflections on the Revolution in France is a 1790 work by Edmund Burke. The best-known critique of the revolution, it was originally written with a polemical purpose which deployed elements of satire as well as more considered arguments in attacking the revolutionaries and their British supporters. Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Pride and Prejudice is an 1813 novel by Jane Austen. Like its predecessor Sense and Sensibility it focuses on love and marriage among the English gentry of the period, a subject encapsulated in one of the most famous opening lines in literature. Although the title may simply reflect the succesful formula of the earlier novel, it also alludes to the obstacles that must be overcome by the central characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction is a collection of novels and short stories published in 1917 as a supplement to the original Harvard Classics. Details of the individual volumes are below, with links to the relevant pages at this site for works and authors included in the collection. Electronic... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Tom Jones is a 1749 novel by Henry Fielding. It's follows the eponymous hero from his appearance as a newborn baby at the home of Squire Allworthy, through a series of picaresque advenures, which provide the occasion for satirical social commentary. Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Sense and Sensibility is an 1811 novel by Jane Austen. The plot follows the fortunes of the two young sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Their contrasting attitudes mirror illustrate the qualities of the novel's title, with Elinor standing for good sense, and the more impulsive, romantic Marianne standing for sensibility. Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
It's been a surprisingly quiet week in Brexit negotiations, given that the end of the withdrawal period is now less than two months away. That this is probably a good sign was confirmed by Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney on Tuesday, when he suggested that some form of long term agreement is now likely. The outstanding question is whether that will include a trade agreement. Even if it does, it is not likely to be an ambitious one. This week's US election is arguably the biggest unknown factor. Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
The Conservative leadership used homophobia to keep anti-fascist MPs in line during the 1930s, according to a forthcoming account by Labour MP Chris Bryant. The BBC has some intriguing details: In the course of researching his book, Mr Bryant found... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
The Elegies (Greek: ἐλεγείων) are a body of short poems written some time in the sixth century BCE by Theognis of Megara, although some later poems are thought to have found their way into the collection. His authentic work is often seen as examplary of the conservative values of the aristocratic symposia which emrged in response to the development of the Greek polis. Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful is a 1757 work by Edmund Burke, with an Introduction on Taste added two years later. Burke's argument, widely influential in the eighteenth century, sought to establish the distinct nature of two sentiments: the beautiful, characterised as graceful and elegant; and the sublime, characterised as grand and terrible; the former linked to those objects likely to cause pleasure, the latter to those which arouse pain and fear. Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
The Provincial Letters (French: Lettres provinciales) were published by Blaise Pascal from 1656 to 1657. Under the pseudonymous guise of Louis de Montalte, a Parisian writing to a correspondent in the country, he launched a blistering satirical attack on Jesuit theology. Although banned by the French Crown, the eighteen letters were widely read and influential. Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
Several bills going through the House of Commons at the moment demonstrate the Johnson's Government's commitment to the hard edge of state power, in both its overt and covert forms. While this legislation raises significant human rights concerns, Labour has... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today called on one of her own party's MPs to resign from the House of Commons. The SNP withdrew the whip from Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier after it emerged she had taken a train from Glasgow to London while Covid positive. Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
The Odes (Latin: Carmina) are a collection of lyric poems by the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (known in English as Horace). Modelled on the Greek odes of Sappho and Alcaeus, they address a range of public and private subjects, and reflect the reconcilitation of Horace, a republican soldier during the Civil War, with the regime of Augustus. Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
On the Sublime (Greek: Περì Ὕψους Perì Hýpsous) is a work on literary criticism written Greek at some point during the Roman empire. The manuscript tradition attributes the work to 'Dionsysius or Longinus' and its true provenance has been the subject of much debate. Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
The Odes (Greek: επινίκιες ωδές), in four books, are the only works of of the Archaic Greek poet Pindar c. 518 – 438 BC) to survive in complete form. Each book is named after one of the major panhellenic festivals, and collects poems dedicated to various victors at their associated games. Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2020 at Tom's Learning Notes
When Boris Johnson's Conservatives won an 81 seat majority last December, it looked as if we wouldn't have to worry about close parliamentary votes on Brexit anymore. Johnson may have begun to squander that advantage with the admission that the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
Reports that the UK Internal Market Bill would tear up the EU withdrawal agreement have been causing political ructions all week. Today, the full text of the bill was published, and it looks very much as advertised. Section 45 of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2020 at The Green Ribbon
The FT's Sebastian Payne is reporting that the head of the UK Government's Legal Department, Sir Jonathan Jones, has resigned over attempts to undermine the UK's obligations under the EU withdrawal agreement. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2020 at The Green Ribbon