Lessons from a 16th century philosopher’s gap year

In 1571, the French nobleman Michel de Montaigne sold his seat at the Bordeaux parliament, retired from public service and sequestered himself in a circular tower in his family castle, Château de Montaigne. He was 38.

For the next 10 years he occupied this tower on the estate which had a chapel, a bedroom, a study and a library, separated between 3 levels. Montaigne self-isolated here and spent his days reading, meditating and writing. He was living according to his belief that: “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

It was here that…

How the greatest novel ever written can help you love better

Anna Karenina, despite its age, has much wisdom to impart to modern lovers, from the dangers of idealising a partner, to the pitfalls of Romanticism, the difficulty of marriage and the importance of communication.

Naturally, there are elements of Anna Karenina which do not translate to our own time very well; set in 19th century Russia, the drama unfolds in a society where marriage for love was still contentious, peasants worked the lands for aristocrats and wife’s were expected to stay in the domestic sphere, raising children and obeying…

Bookshelves Can Fuel Prejudice. They Can Also Cure It.

I just finished reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own; an essay which incisively shows that women’s silence in fiction was down to their social marginalisation; they weren’t allowed the time, resources or the space with which to create masterpieces, and then were judged as creatively inferior on this absence. Upon finishing it, I had a sudden realisation: I noticed that I only had one female author on my bookshelf.

How had I been blind to such a glaring absence for so long? It shocked me, deeply, to realise that I had ignored half the human race’s output for…

Short stories imagined from a painted scene

I often find myself gazing at paintings and imagining a story around it; what preceded the captured image, what ensued it and what the subjects are feeling in the petrified moment on the canvas.

This small act of imagination sparked an idea: Imagine, I thought, a series of short stories creating the drama around famous paintings. In each one an iconic image would be brought to life as if the painting were merely a film that had been live paused. …

You’re not qualified to say so yet

We’ve all heard it at some point, whether it was parents, friends or relatives, in our university dorms or at a family dinner:

“Your Twenties are the best years of your life. Enjoy them”.

It seems harmless enough, right? And besides, there certainly is a romanticism about being newly adult and having a life ahead of you; a million possibilities and the youth to pursue them.

With that being said, I believe this narrative is a toxic one, and far from encouraging 20-somethings to make the most of their time, it leaves them…

A wonderful day for a stroll in the… graveyard?

My eyes ache and my head throbs from excessive screen time. All the while, the sun is shining and the birds are singing melodiously, framed by my bedroom window.

I shut my laptop, bury my head in my hands, rub my eyes and decide that I need some fresh air.

There are a few options that lie before me: I can stroll around the local recreation ground, although I’ve completed the circuit so many times in the past few days I feel like I’m competing in Formula One.

Secondly, I could go to the forest, but I’m in a contemplative…

I Love Her, I Love Her Not

In my first year at university, I met an amazing girl who lived opposite me, fell head over heels in love, and after a few months, found myself in my first ever relationship.

Initially, I relished every second I spent with my partner, believing her to be without fault in the way only new lovers can.

And then something changed.

Insidiously, questions about her attractiveness in comparison to other girls, our compatibility as a couple and her personality flaws began to weigh on me, so much so that the time I spent with her became increasingly unpleasant; intimacy became a…

The “large, loose, baggy” monster has a lot to teach us

War and Peace is dizzying in its breadth, but dazzling all the way through; it spans seven years, and hosts 559 characters in total. There are numerous historical cameos including one of Tolstoy’s ancestors as well as the famous Prussian military theorist Clausewitz. Moreover, Napoleon is present in multiple scenes, as is the Tsar Alexander I and the Russian general Kutozov, among others.

The book is a relay race of consciousness, with the narrative passing from mind to mind and driving the story forward; at one point, he even…

Many of us carry the inheritance of the Romantic movement which placed Eros (Romantic Love) above all over forms of love, whether Familial or Platonic. Alas, an unfortunate result of this is that whereas our Ancient ancestors saw Friendship as an equally divine and enriching love to Eros, we have come to regard it as a weak substitute for the organic, heady joy of Romantic love. Worse still, many have ceased to regard it as a love at all.

C.S. Lewis and The Four Loves

Whether it is for leisure, learning or work

One of the most common pieces of advice authors impart to hopeful writers, second to putting pen to paper daily, is to read voraciously; whilst there are no shortage of people giving writing advice, tips and techniques, very few discuss how to read effectively. I find this strange, and thoroughly believe that we could all do with a little guidance in how to get more out of the books we consume, myself included. …

Ross Carver-Carter

Politics graduate and aspiring journalist. Passionate about mental health awareness. Hoarder of odd historical facts.

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