ewx: (penguin)

‘Here were the very people who for twenty years had hooted and jeered at the “glory” of war, atrocity stories, at patriotism, even at physical courage, coming out with stuff that with the alteration of a few names would have fitted into the Daily Mail of 1918. The same people who in 1933 sniggered pityingly if you said that in certain circumstances you would fight for your country, in 1937 were denouncing you as a Trotskyist-Fascist if you suggested that the stories in New Masses about freshly wounded men clamouring to get back into the fighting might be exaggerated.’

(George Orwell.) I'm about a third of the way through The Battle For Spain. Beevor does a good job of breaking the subject matter into digestible chapters, perhaps shorter than is typical for historical works. It is, however, relentlessly depressing: the Republicans are fractious and disorganized, and all too often odious; even when they do get it together, you know it'll all be for nothing. The Nationalists are nothing short of nightmarish.

Both sides seem to have been much less individualistic than modern Britain (despite the Republicans stripping away many of the restrictive social conventions previously forced upon them). Is that a deep change across time and place, I wonder, or something that this country would be likely to return to in the face of intense conflict?

ewx: (penguin)

“At one moment during the fighting, a small group of workers and an assault guard rushed across to an insurgent artillery detachment with two 75mm guns. They held their rifles above their heads to show that they were not attacking as they rushed up to the astonished soldiers. Out of breath, they poured forth passionate arguments why the soldiers should not fire on their brothers, telling them that they had been tricked by their officers. The guns were turned round and brought to bear on the rebel forces.”

(Anthony Beevor, The Battle For Spain.)

ewx: (Default)

If a player is struck, that is always invalid [i.e. there is never any redress]. If a player is wounded, one who goes with a fiddle, and with a viol or drum, then a wild heifer is to be brought to the raised middle of the assembly place. Then all the hair is to be shaved off its tail and the tail greased. Then the player is to be given newly-greased shoes. Then he is to hold the heifer by the tail and the heifer is to be lashed with a sharp whip. If he can hold it, then he shall have this fine animal and enjoy it as a dog enjoys grass. If he cannot hold it, let him have and put up with what he got, shame and hurt.

(From the older Västergötland Law, as reported in The Viking Achievement by Foote and Wilson.)

ewx: (parrot)
“…hardly a single Saracen remained alive to carry the dreadful news back to Palermo. As things turned out, however, this proved unnecessary. Among the prizes of battle, and just as intriguing to Roger [de Hauteville] as the camels seized at Cerami, the Normans had carried off several baskets of carrier pigeons. […] It is unlikely that Roger ever had any in his possession before, but the idea of using them at once for his own purposes was more than he could resist. He ordered that to the leg of each bird should be attached a scrap of material dipped in Saracen blood; the pigeons were then released, to fly back to Palermo with their macabre message.”
ewx: (parrot)
“... the notoriously unreliable monk Radulph Glaber (the wildness of whose imagination was rivalled only by his private life, which gives him fair claim to have been expelled from more monasteries than any other littérateur of the eleventh century)”
ewx: (Default)
The magazine was later art directed by former Pentagram partner Fernando Gutiérrez, whose issues took in madness, prison and Birmingham.”

January 2017

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