The Current Issue

March 2019, Issue 473 Dmitri Levitin on Newton the alchemist * David Gelber on Queen Mary * Sean McMeekin on Greece * Catherine Hanley on Edward Longshanks's daughters * Joan Smith on data bias * Sarah Ditum on mothering * Christopher Turner on Walter Gropius * Robert Irwin on arabs * James Hamilton on Thomas Gainsborough * Tobie Mathew on Chernobyl * Christopher Andrew on Stalin's master agent * Marc Mulholland on the Irish border * Cressida Connolly on Joan Silber * Helon Habila on Marlon James *  and much, much more…

Christopher Turner

A Very Romantic Modernist

Fiona MacCarthy met Walter Gropius (1883–1969) through Jack Pritchard, the British entrepreneur who built Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, an experiment in modernist living where Gropius took up residence after escaping Nazi Germany in 1934. The Bauhaus, the school he founded in Weimar a century ago this year, had been closed by stormtroopers the previous year (by then it had moved to Berlin). In 1968, after the opening of a Bauhaus exhibition at the Royal Academy, MacCarthy was invited to dinner with Gropius at the Lawn Road Isobar, the block’s in-house dining room: ‘He was then eighty-five, small, upright, very courteous, retaining a Germanic formality of bearing,’ MacCarthy recalled. He ‘was still valiant and impressive, with a flickering of arrogance’. Gropius, who died nine months later, split his life into three acts, obligingly providing the overall structure for MacCarthy’s biography. He started out as a radical, avant-garde architect... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Sean McMeekin

Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation

By Roderick Beaton

For a country of just eleven million people, whose population ranks eighty-fourth in the world, between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Greece has a large and imposing history. When many Anglo-Saxons think of Greece, they think of the ancients: the millennium of the Trojan War and Athens’s wars with Persia and Sparta, of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and of Alexander the Great’s Hellenic empire. Russians and the Eastern Orthodox tend to think of the age of Byzantium... read more

Joan Smith

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

By Caroline Criado Perez

If I want to walk along the river near where I live, I have to cross one of the busiest roads in west London. The only access is via an underpass, an enclosed tunnel where a female friend of mine was once sexually assaulted. Every time I use it, gritting my teeth and checking whether anyone is approaching from the other side, I think about how much of the urban environment is designed without a thought for the safety of women. Caroline Criado Perez gives... read more

Dmitri Levitin

Newton the Alchemist: Science, Enigma, and the Quest for Nature’s ‘Secret Fire’

By William R Newman

‘Historians of alchemy’, wrote Herbert Butterfield in 1949, ‘seem to become tinctured with the kind of lunacy they set out to describe.’ Seventy years on, readers may believe that this gloriously rude assessment needs no updating. But what, then, are we to make of the fact that the greatest scientific hero of them all, that model of geometric rationality, Isaac Newton, devoted a great proportion of his life to the pursuit... read more

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