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Europe On Brexit: Pick Your Metaphor

The clock is ticking for Theresa May's Brexit?
The clock is ticking for Theresa May's Brexit?
Olivia Han and Natalie Malek


"It's almost like Shakespeare: Brexit or no Brexit? That was the question." German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle resorted to a passing twist on Hamlet after the British Parliament delivered what may be the final defeat Tuesday night in Prime Minister Theresa May's attempt to lead the UK to an orderly divorce from the European Union.

Though real-life consequences are at stake on the continent, European publications were mostly left trying to understand what was happening across the Channel. And yes, Shakespeare was there to help. Italian journalist Enrico Franceschini cited The Tempest: "Hell is empty and all the devils are here," began his article in Rome-based La Repubblica. "You need to look to the Bard after yet another day in which the British parliament, and the nation it represents, are tossed about by Brexit like a ship at the mercy of the proverbial Shakespearean storm."

Beppe Severgini reached for a different British trope in his commentary for Corriere della Sera: "Brexit defies any logic, and logic is the shiniest jewel in the crown of the British mind."

The pro-Brexit, pro-May paper The Daily Maildid not shy away from laying blame on Parliament, which voted 391 to 242 to reject (apparently once and for all) the proposed accord negotiated with the EU. "They vowed to deliver the Brexit Britain voted for — and had it in their grasp. But last night contemptuous MPs chose instead to plunge our despairing nation into chaos."

French daily Le Monde may have best summarized the current state of play: "The Brexit deal laboriously negotiated with Brussels for two years is dead, and Theresa May, who backed it, is politically hardly in better condition."

What's next? There is of course the prospect of a "no-deal" Brexit, with a vote on that option scheduled Wednesday night, which could force the UK to negotiate all terms of trade, travel and otherwise with each EU country individually. Otherwise, the UK can appeal to the EU for an extension of the original March 29 deadline for a comprehensive deal. The front page of France's Libération "back to square one" begs the question of just how far "back" all will be forced to go.

As for the future, Die Welt echoed a sentiment across the continent: "No one knows." The only way out, writes Stefanie Bolzen, could be "a self-imposed pause for thought, just as the EU likes to do when it's at its wits' end." But back inside the UK, she concludes: "Brexit has polarized the country too much for that. The train keeps on running. And nobody knows where."

In a video commentary for Spanish daily El Pais, veteran award-winning journalist Iñaki Gabilondo doubts it'll be an orderly divorce at all, comparing Brexit to a marriage turned sour: The UK and Europe "have reached a place where, like in so many troubled marriages, things have boiled over to the point that the fight is more intense than the original reasons for the dispute."

While the metaphors keep coming, it looks like Brexit has turned Shakespeare into a second-rate soap opera.

The UKs second best selling newspaper, the Daily Mail provides over 1.3 million English speakers with middle-market news each day in tabloid format — reaching millions more online. In 1896 its original London headquarters published its first broadsheet. More than a century later it is unique for its majority female and largely young readership.
This leading French daily newspaper Le Monde ("The World") was founded in December 1944 in the aftermath of World War II. Today, it is distributed in 120 countries. In late 2010, a trio formed by Pierre Berge, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse took a controlling 64.5% stake in the newspaper.
La Repubblica is a daily newspaper published in Rome, Italy, and is positioned on the center-left. Founded in 1976, it is owned by Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.
Founded in 1876 as an evening newspaper ("Evening Courier), the Milan daily has long been a morning paper. The flagship publication of the RCS Media Group, Corriere della Sera is noted for its sober tone, reliable reporting and moderate political stances.
Libération is a French left-leaning daily. Co-founded by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973, it later moved away from its original far-left and anti-advertising stance to embrace a social-democrat view. It was acquired by Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi in 2014.
El País ("The Country") is the highest-circulation daily in Spain. It was founded in Madrid in 1976 and is owned by the Spanish media conglomerate PRISA. Its political alignment is considered center-right.
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
Die Welt ("The World") is a German daily founded in Hamburg in 1946, and currently owned by the Axel Springer AG company, Europe's largest publishing house. Now based in Berlin, Die Welt is sold in more than 130 countries. A Sunday edition called Welt am Sonntag has been published since 1948.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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