About Horatio


In The Paradoxal Compass (2017) I explore certain contradictions in the West Country’s identity. An image of settled rural existence overlaps there with a quite different kind of story, in which the region figures as point of departure for many famous voyages. I’ve looked in detail at one of the most famous of these, Drake’s circumnavigation, asking what, if anything, it might mean to us today.

Elsewhere I’ve explored other paradoxes of our current condition: ‘If I had to explain to a young, thoughtful Muslim, or his evangelical Christian counterpart, why absolute freedom of thought matters to me, I would start with Samuel Butler. The New Atheists wouldn’t get a look-in, and that is not because I am from the Neville Chamberlain School of anything. It’s because I believe that clear, witty, temperate prose, in the service of true imaginative power, is the best persuader we have, and the best persuader we will ever have.’

That is from Samuel Butler, or The Art of Being Funny about Religion, an essay included in Lady Chatterley’s Defendant and Other Awkward Customers (See book section)

The Egyptian writer Nasr Abu Zayd is another useful way into this. He was both a believer and fully committed to those traditions within Islam from which, he argued, a more balanced relationship with modernity might emerge. You can read more here


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