Walter Kaiser was formerly Director of Villa I Tatti, the ­Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. (October 2015)


A Conspiratorial Theory of the Renaissance

Benozzo Gozzoli: The Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem; detail of the fresco on the east wall of the chapel of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence, circa 1460

Must We Divide History into Periods?

by Jacques Le Goff, translated from the French by M.B. DeBevoise

The Ugly Renaissance: Sex, Greed, Violence and Depravity in an Age of Beauty

by Alexander Lee
Shortly before his death last year, the eminent French medievalist Jacques Le Goff published a small book that may be considered his scholarly testament and that has now been translated into English by Malcolm DeBevoise with the title Must We Divide History into Periods? The answer Le Goff ultimately gives …

A Hero of Translation

Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Soldier, Spy, and Translator

by Jean Findlay
In July 1903, when he was thirteen, Charles Scott Moncrieff took the entrance exams for Winchester, traditionally the most scholarly of the English public schools. One of the things he was asked to do during the three days of the examination was to translate the following eight lines from the …

Shakespeare: A Brilliant Night in New York

Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

a play by William Shakespeare, directed by Tim Carroll and produced by Shakespeare’s Globe, London, at the Belasco Theatre, New York City, November 20, 2013–February 16, 2014
The production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by the English theatrical company Shakespeare’s Globe, currently at the Belasco Theatre, brings this play to life in a way I have only very rarely seen equaled in a Shakespearean production. The performances are so uniformly skillful, the interpretation of the play so intelligent …

The Passions of Bernard Berenson

Bernard Berenson at twenty-one and seventy-one

Bernard Berenson: A Life in the Picture Trade

by Rachel Cohen
Why do I wriggle and toss at the idea of being biographied? It makes me uncomfortable and unhappy. Is it only because there are so many big and little episodes I wish forgotten? Of course, I have much behind me that I hate to recall…. Every kind of lâcheté, meanness, …

‘A Well-Known Terrifier’

Janet Ross painted by G.F. Watts when she was sixteen years old

Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross

by Ben Downing
In the autumn of 1892, Mark Twain, having fled to Europe in serious financial difficulty and with his wife Olivia increasingly ill, moved into Villa Viviani on the slopes of the village of Settignano, then some five miles to the east of Florence. Shortly after he arrived, he wrote to …


A ‘Twelfth Night’ Epiphany

Mark Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night, the feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the presentation of the Christ child to the three kings, was one of the major feasts of the medieval and Tudor church. By Elizabeth’s time, it had long since become an occasion for merrymaking, bringing the Christmas holiday to a close. The comic spirit of the occasion was that of the Lord of Misrule deposing whoever was in authority and actions being performed in some sort of topsy-turvy reversal, creating carnival disorder. In Shakespeare’s play, a man plays a girl pretending to be a man, identical twins are confused, a servant imagines he is worthy of being made a noble, cakes and ale triumph over virtue.