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. 19, No. 3, November

Notes & Comments: November 2000
Will there always be an England? We have often remarked on what difficult times these are for the art of parody. If he is to be successful, a parodist must be able to count on his audience's ability to distinguish clearly between the parody and...
Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation
Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me. "Orwellian" has entered the vocabulary as a shorthand adjective for the abiding fear of the twentieth century, that we would all become unpersons at the mercy of Big Brother. A jackboot...
Rembrandt & Venice
It's a truism these days that there is no single way of thinking about the history of art, no single way of telling the story of what happened or of interpreting the visual evidence that has come down to us. The only constant is the fact that no work...
Reticence or Insincerity Rattigan or Pinter
History is a seamless robe, of course, but there are nevertheless discernible tears in its fabric. One of these occurred in the 1950s, in the small world of the British theater. No doubt unimportant in itself, this quasi-revolution heralded, and perhaps...
The Fortunes of Aby Warburg
When conflicting worldviews kindle partisan emotions, setting members of a society at each other's throats, the social fabric inexorably crumbles; but when those views hold a balance within a single individual--when, instead of destroying each other,...
The Joke's on Us
My favorite Washington Post headline of this election season, which appeared above an article by Terry M. Neal and Ceci Connolly on the morning before the second presidential debate, read: "Debate Challenges Are Same as Before." As I have had occasion...
"The Order Passion Yields": I.M. Edgar Bowers, 1924--2000
I carry one small memory of his form Aslant at his clavier, with careful ease, To bring one last enigma to the norm, Intelligence perfecting the mute keys. --"From J. Haydn to Constanze Mozart (1791)" How will a generation know its story If it...
The Sorrow & the Pity
Wagner's Parsifal stands alone in the operatic canon. No other opera is so fraught with interpretive perils, so encumbered by tradition, so undermined by preconceptions as this one. Wagner called this work a Buhenweihfestspiel, a uniquely German term...
The Triumph of Experience over Hope
There is an old vaudeville routine, in which a comedian dons a succession of scary masks. As he puts each one on, he taps the shoulder of a man standing in front of him; when the man turns round, he is not in the least shocked, only irritated. Finally...
Tocqueville Today
What saddens me is, not that our society is democratic, but that the vices which we have inherited and acquired make it so difficult for us to obtain or to keep well-regulated liberty. And I know nothing so miserable as a democracy without liberty....
Women & Politics: Madame De Duras
You were made to rule the world. --Chateaubriand to Mme de Duras In 1786 the chevalier de Boufflers, then governor of Senegal, brought back for his aunt, the princesse de Beauvau, a black girl called Ourika, some two years old, who was going to...