Covid-19: Heading Home to Italy during the Crisis

“Self-portrait” in transit. Photo: Giada Lagana. In Italy, Covid-19 started earlier than anywhere else in Europe. Italians living abroad, and especially those living in the UK, lived it twice: alone, among the sick men of Europe. The UK did not pay enough attention to what was happening, commented Luigi Ippolito in the Corriere della Sera,… | Read on »

We need a hive mind, not a herd mentality.

These are strange times we are living through. At the beginning of the Covid crisis I was uplifted to listen to people singing from their balconies, but in recent days was disheartened to learn that the Italians in certain regions have stopped their arias and social unrest is starting to be felt. I learned that… | Read on »

A Quieter but Less Silent Spring? Bird song and COVID-19

It could seem crass to talk of happy coincidences in the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak but one fortunate aspect is that the epidemic arrived in northern Europe during springtime. While daily life has transformed and death has seemed close at hand, the vernal burgeoning of life has offered comfort to many. Lockdown’s disruption of the normally… | Read on »

Remembering the Sun of Joy

The travellers among us are on short rein this year. Even the most profound distortion of space-time cannot bring the Andes mountains within my personal 5 km radius, and the flat-topped Partry hills of Mayo, visible from our Moycullen garden, remain frustratingly out of reach. So I draw, the practice of art being well known… | Read on »

Australia under COVID-19

In Australia, a lot of things that were of consuming interest a few months ago have disappeared from view. We were almost on the verge of doing something about climate change after the drought and bushfire summer. I hope we don’t lose that inspiration. On the plus side, CO19 has swept away the culture wars and… | Read on »

New York Returns

New York, 11 May 2020 New York is back. I don’t mean flattening the curve or reopening, baseball or Broadway. But New York as a city defined by a flintily unforgiving grandeur: a place not merely to be toured or consumed, but respected and even feared. During March and April, as the coronavirus played out… | Read on »

Reeling in the years: why 664 AD was a terrible year in Ireland

Analysis: the plague of 664 AD was one of the transformative events of early Irish history and its devastating effects lingered for several years  The Irish annals for 664 AD have an ominous entry: “the plague reached Ireland on the 1st of August” (Mortalitas in Hiberniam peruenit in Kl. Augusti). The similarity with our current woes… | Read on »

A Transatlantic Forager

In this pandemic we find ourselves asking questions about the future as we try to make sense of our place in the world and our connection to it. Many have found solace and pleasure in things that have taken on a new life in the time of COVID: sourdough starters, the Getty Museum challenge, or… | Read on »

Lockdowns, literature, and balconies in Covid-19 Russia

From the bubonic plague (1351–53,1770–71) to the various cholera outbreaks that assailed the nineteenth-century imperial power, Russia, like the West, is no stranger to epidemics and quarantine procedures. Indeed, cholera and tuberculosis epidemics arose to trouble the former USSR during the collapse of the Soviet state and its healthcare system. And like Western European writing,… | Read on »

‘The strictest in Europe’: how Spain dealt with the lockdown

    Opinion: in the midst of severe coronavirus restrictions, Spain has seen ‘unthinkable’ transformations and changes in living patterns What should have been a short research trip to Spanish archives at the beginning of March has turned into the longest period I have spent in my home country in years. After six weeks of… | Read on »