Joseph Farrell

Latest articles from Joseph Farrell

A Roman poet and the Scottish connection

I WAS invited recently to address the annual dinner of the Italian Scotland society where they were making an award to Mike Lemetti, a native of Falkirk of evident Italian ancestry.

history The history of collapsing societies and what the modern world needs to learn about them

THE experience of walking around Knossos on Crete and hearing a guide emphasise that the great palace of Minos was constructed more than 4000 years ago, and of listening to the prompt gasps of tourists that that information elicits can lull the supposedly sophisticated visitor – no mere tourist he – into the fond illusion that the solemnity induced by such a place is a sign of a deep intellectual reflection on the end of history, deeper than Francis Fukuyama’s now discredited views.

THE BIG READ Grand Tour couldn't charm Sir Walter Scott away from Scotland

WALTER Scott, unlike Robert Louis Stevenson, had only a limited interest in travelling other than in his mind and imagination. He accumulated volumes which he used to add colour to his narratives, but by temperament and inclination Scott was happier as an imaginary traveller. Observers report seeing him bent over maps in libraries in Abbotsford or in the archives of the Faculty of Advocates, but he was in another part of his mind surprisingly prey to that very British distrust of “abroad”, l

Home truths: The role of Motherwell in journalist Deborah Orr's life

ON the road out of Hamilton there used to be signs which indicated ‘‘Motherwell and Beyond’’. As a boy I remember standing in awe underneath that sign wondering, what could be beyond Motherwell. I believed then, and still do, that the world was flat, and contemplated unwary travellers tumbling over the edge somewhere beyond Motherwell, if there really was anything beyond Motherwell. It was a world unto itself.

Visions of da Vinci: Celebrating the 500th anniversary of a true genius

THIS is the year of Leonardo da Vinci – the 500th anniversary of his death in France. And while such celebrations are normally the occasion for “reassessing” what we supposedly know about a particular artist and how we view them, the many exhibitions on his work from Edinburgh to Milan via Paris are a spur to make the effort to come to terms with the subtlety of da Vinci’s mind, the vastness of his curiosity, the immensity of his skills and the sheer range of his interests.

The story of Robert Louis Stevenson and a Hawaiian princess

WAIKIKI is now a suburb of Honolulu as well as a boisterous holiday destination. Its tourist attractions are obvious – glorious white sand beaches and magnificent wave surges which are a surfer’s dream, together with a coastal road lined with luxury hotels, pizza parlours, cafés, hamburger joints and souvenir shops.

The story of Samoa's love for Robert Louis Stevenson

TO adapt a line from Rupert Brooke, there is a corner of some foreign field that is forever Scotland. This field is to be found in Samoa, near Villa Vailima, the house Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) built for himself and his family in 1890, but also in Samoan culture and consciousness, in the memory of his historical impact in defending the islands against imperialist depredations.