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. 18, No. 5, January

A Great, Baggy Monster: Rilke's "Duino Elegies"
The long poem, if we rightly exclude the dramatic, comes in three varieties: narrative, including epic; philosophical, including existential; and metaphysical, including religious. And, of course, in any combination of the above. When we, here and...
A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge, by William Bolcom, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. October 9-November 5, 1999 The second most eagerly anticipated operatic event of 1999--the first being John Harbison's The Great Gatsby, which opened at the Met in December--took...
Letters
Grotesque liberties To the Editors: Recently, we attended the Portland Opera's performance of Handel's opera Giulio Cesare with our fourteen-year-old son. Our experience paralleled many of the points made in Roger Kimball's article on "Sensation"...
"Milton Avery: Edge of Abstraction" at Knoedler & Company
"Milton Avery: Edge of Abstraction" at Knoedler & Company, New York. November 10, 1999-January 22, 2000 "Ripeness is all," Shakespeare reminds us, invoking both age and timeliness. "Milton Avery: Edge of Abstraction" an outstanding show of fifteen...
"Naum Gabo: Pioneer of Abstract Sculpture" at PaceWildenstein
"Naum Gabo: Pioneer of Abstract Sculpture" at PaceWildenstein, New York. November 4-January 8, 1999 Naum Gabo (1890-1977) possessed an astonishing consistency of vision. Nothing in the design of his complex sculpture Column (1975), in which two...
Notes & Comments: January 2000
Postscript to "Sensation" "O what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practise to deceive!" It is a pity that no one introduced Arnold Lehman--as of this writing, still the director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art--to these thoughtful lines by Sir...
"Regarding Beauty: A View of the Late Twentieth Century" at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
"Regarding Beauty: A View of the Late Twentieth Century" at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. October 7, 1999-January 17, 2000 Prior to entering the exhibition "Regarding Beauty: A View of the Late Twentieth Century," visitors...
Rethinking Modernism
The most discussed exhibition of the past few months--at least in some circles--was not the Brooklyn Museum's over-hyped "Sensation," but rather "Modernstarts: People, Places, Things," the Museum of Modern Art's truly sensational, genuinely provocative...
Superior Soap Opera
CHRISTOPHER: I'm workin' my ass off on this movie script. You know how many pages I got? Nineteen. PAULIE: Is that a lot or a little? CHRISTOPHER: Books say a movie's supposed to be about 120 pages. PAULIE: [whistles softly]. CHRISTOPHER:...
The Perils of Activism: Ken Saro-Wiwa
The last time I visited the Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa in Port Harcourt, two years before he was hanged in the city's prison, the naked corpse of a man lay on the sidewalk of the Aggrey Road, about a hundred yards from his office. Broiling in the...
The Saint-Saens Enigma
Poor Saint-Saens! He was blessed from childhood with a polished facility of utterance that made most of his fellow composers (Ravel excepted) seem like hysterical tyros by comparison. But somehow, even at the apex of his renown, Camille Saint-Saens...
Willa Cather's "The Professor's House"
For there to be a humanitas and for this to build up a "world" around itself, a habitable "cosmos" on earth, this classical common sense posited a natural and divine "cosmos" as an original and prior ontological model, independent of all human manipulation....