The invisible man: The Glass Pearls, by Emeric Pressburger

            Not all Germans were swayed by Hitler, but the majority were. Karl Braun, the fugitive Nazi doctor at the heart of Emeric Pressburger’s 1966 novel The Glass Pearls, was devoted to the furtherance of so-called “science” under the Führer. In the interests of research he cut up the brains of a number of Nazi concentration camp inmates. His chosen …

Violence and beauty combine in Siena

            Siena, that jewel of Tuscan cities, was the mercantile and banking centre of medieval Europe. Bankers in Pre-Renaissance Siena preened themselves on their wealth and material possession. Banking (from the Italian banco, “counter”) is an Italian invention. Yet Dante consigned money-lenders to the seventh circle of Hell, where they are made to stare for eternity at their sacks of …