New Criterion

A magazine that publishes articles, notes and comment on cultural life in America. Publishes contributions from poets, authors, public policy scholars, humanities lecturers, and critics. Includes poetry, arts criticism, and commentary. Departments in thea

Articles from Vol. 25, No. 5, January

Delusions of "Reality"
Not long ago, as I was listening to a BBC reporter describing the latest terrorist outrage in Baghdad--scores killed ... deteriorating security situation ... Iraqi government helpless ... military untrained and disorganized ... terrorists operating...
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Eric Newby, 1919-2006
In his 1982 autobiography A Traveler's Life, the delightful travel writer Eric Newby, who died this past October at the age of eighty-six, expressed his thoughts on human existence. In his writings, the Venerable Bede compared the span of human...
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Gallery Chronicle
In the second volume of her biography of Henri Matisse, Hilary Spurling describes the reaction of French Communists to the elderly artist's chapel at Vence, for which he designed not only the stained glass windows, but also the architecture, furnishings,...
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Hamilton Capitulates
Salvador Dali would have found a lot to admire about higher education today; George Orwell, for his part, would have found in it a veritable lexicon of Newspeak. Dali would have savored the surrealistic aspect of the enterprise: the vertiginous disjunction...
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Introduction: Utopia a vs. Nationhood
I think I know man, but as for men, I know them not. --Jean-Jacques Rousseau In a memorable passage at the beginning of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant evokes a soaring dove that, "cleaving the air in her free flight," feels the resistance...
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Islam, Western Civilization & the Nation State
The relationship between Islam and the West is profoundly, multifariously, inescapably asymmetrical. In an attempt to resolve the cognitive dissonance this creates for a Western mentality schooled in the less complex oppositions of the Cold War, I...
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Is the Nation State Threatened?
"Is the Nation State Threatened?" This question, though apt, may fail to convey how dire the threat to sovereignty truly is. It might be better to ask, "Is the Nation State Terminally Ill?" Are we witnessing the death march of sovereignty, and with...
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Learning to Read
My father taught me to read when I was four, and I never stopped. But reading, to me, promptly suggested emulation: writing verse, mostly love poems to older women. At six, I wrote them to Gabriela, the pretty, fourteen-year-old upstairs neighbor,...
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Pound's Depreciation
Anyone who pronounced himself satisfied with the state of the world would be regarded either as an idiot or as an unfeeling and unthinking egotist, whose satisfaction with his own life had culpably blinded him to the misery of the generality of men....
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Spain & Picasso
Pablo Picasso should be looming large just now. In theory, the apparently fortuitous overlapping of two of this season's major exhibitions, "Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History" at the Guggenheim and "Picasso and American...
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The Nation & the Intellectual Left
In December 2005, some of Sydney's surfing beaches were sites of what politicians and the press called "race riots." After a gang of Lebanese Muslim youths had assaulted a volunteer lifeguard at Cronulla Beach, a gang of Anglo-Australian youths tried...
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Velazquez in London
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez is often thought of as a painter of people but his early pictures are best regarded as still lifes. Three Musicians (1616-1617) should be renamed "Bread on a table napkin," Tavern Scene (1616-1617) should be called...
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Well-Made & Not-So-Well-Made
The term "well-made play" was coined in about 1825 by the French dramatist Eugene Scribe, whose ideal of tightly plotted plays (complete with exposition, peripeteia, and denouement) had a tremendous influence throughout the nineteenth century: its...
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