Paul Johnson

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The Spectator: 'And Another Thing'

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Articles: 2009

  • Richard Strauss: the Bavarian Joker in the Pack - Richard Strauss died 60 years ago this year. Not only is he one of my top ten favourite composers, he is also the one I would most like to be cast away with on an island so that I could pluck out the heart of his mystery - 25th March 2009
  • Celebrating the Michelangelo of the Maida Vale pub - One of my favourite parts of London, in easy walking distance of my house in Newton Road, is what I call the Ardizzone country. This stretches from the edges of Little Venice into Maida Vale and is, or was until the crunch, in the process of rapid gentrification - 18th March 2009
  • When the ferocious Conchita rode the ring and bulls trembled - With one of those tremendous jolts to memory, I was taken back 60 years by the death of Conchita Cintron. She was the greatest of all women bullfighters and I was incredibly lucky to see her, in 1950, for that was the last year she was in the ring - 11th March 2009
  • Good lessons to be learned from the much-despised Thirties - A.J.P. Taylor liked to talk about the Great Depression of the Thirties. ‘It was all right for some, such as myself,’ he said, with satisfaction. ‘With a nice, safe job as a university don, I was sitting pretty - 4th March 2009
  • What the temptations on the high mountain mean today - What are the salient evils of our time? They are two-fold. One is social engineering, the idea that human beings can be changed, improved and moved about as though they are quantities of cement or concrete - 25th February 2009
  • A time for American poets to speak out in warning? - During the Arctic weather I re-read that finest of winter pastorals, ‘Snowbound’ by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92). It gripped me, as it always does, by its combination of intense realism about the present and its imaginative sympathy for the past - 18th February 2009
  • Short works of genius that cheer up the writing profession - Being a professional writer is a hard life. Producing a book, especially a long one, is a severe test of courage and endurance. For even after a successful day of writing, one must begin again the next morning - 11th February 2009
  • Would Darwin have put atheist slogans on buses? - The more I see of the intellectual world and its frailties, the more I appreciate the truth of G.K. Chesterton’s saying: ‘When people cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing. They believe in anything.’ - 4th February 2009
  • The case for simplicity is essentially a moral one - What is simplicity? And is it desirable, on principle? A good question. My recent essay on the origins of the universe, arguing that the simple explanation, its creation by an omni-potent God, is more plausible than its sudden emergence as a result of infinitely complex (and disputed) events, angered some readers. They took the view that only the simple-minded see virtue in simplicity, and that a love of complexity is the mark of intellectual maturity - 28th January 2009
  • What Shakespeare has to say about the crisis - It is a sobering thought that a year ago the nominal wealth of the world, as registered in bank holdings, stock and bond prices, real estate and company valuations, was twice what it is today. Where has all the money gone? Was it there in the first place? - 21st January 2009
  • A Pantocrat who should be on everyone’s curriculum - The decision by the authorities to drop Coleridge from the syllabus of state schools is intended as another nail in the coffin of English literature. He is to be replaced by a person unknown to me but apparently popular on TV quiz shows - 14th January 2009
  • Are you sophisticated? Here’s how to find out - The word ‘sophisticated’, though commonly used, especially by persons who turn out on close investigation to be unsophisticated, is tricky, and truly sophisticated people avoid it altogether. Now, having got that off my chest, let us try to define it - 7th January 2009

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