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. 21, No. 9, May

Annals of the BBC. (Notes & Comments: May 2003)
Later in this issue, James Bowman reports on the mainstream media's coverage of the war with Iraq. It is an inglorious tale: a compendium of anti-American broadsides, half snide, half furious, almost comically wrongheaded and inaccurate. A few days...
A Safe Preserve for Sport. (Fiction Chronicle)
It was something, I guessed, in the primal plan, something like a complex figure in a Persian carpet. --Henry James, "The Figure in the Carpet" The search for an enigma catalyzes the revelations of character in "The Figure in the Carpet." Too...
Can Europe Happen?
In September 194-6, when Winston Churchill, speaking at the University of Zurich, was calling for the creation of a United States of Europe, parts of that continent still lay in ruins; the wounds of war had not yet scarred over. There were zones of...
Minimalist Fantasies
All I want anyone to get out of my paintings, and all I ever get out of them, is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion .... What you see is what you see. --Frank Stella, 1966 Minimal works are readable as art, as almost...
"Nell Blaine, Artist in the World: Works from the 1950s" at Tibor De Nagy Gallery. March 22, 2003-April 26, 2003. (Exhibition Notes)
Nell Blaine (1922-1996) can tell a story through a remarkable economy of language. Her best work is lyrical, self-aware, in control, and inviting without the hints of self-indulgence that befell many in the New York School. A native of Richmond,...
Remembering the Gulag. (Books)
The first account of the concentration camps that I can remember reading was an essay by Hannah Arendt in the July 1948 number of Partisan Review when I was a sophomore in college. What I now mainly recall about my first reading of this essay, "The...
Superior to the Truth. (the Media)
How wonderfully appropriate that the public discovery of the most serious media scandal to come out of the war in Iraq should have been made by one of its authors--and in a statement which he himself obviously supposed was an occasion for self-congratulation...
The End of the Line? (Notes & Comments: May 2003)
In Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Purloined Letter," the trick is that the incriminating letter is not hidden but has been sitting in plain sight all along. The moral is that what is most obvious is sometimes easiest to overlook, as the vain and frantic...
The House Gods of Elie Nadelman. (Art)
Where lies the final harbor whence we unmoor no more? Where is the foundling's father hidden? Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it....
The Hypocrisy of Noam Chomsky
There's a famous definition in the Gospels of the hypocrite, and the hypocrite is the person who refuses to apply to himself the standards he applies to others. By that standard, the entire commentary and discussion of the so-called War on Terror is...
The Rise of the Vocal Recital
One of the more interesting features of concert life in New York in the past decade has been the growth--one might almost say the ubiquity--of the vocal recital. By the "vocal recital" I mean the classic "art song evening" as opposed to an evening...
"Titian" at the National Gallery, London. February 19, 2003-May 18, 2003. (Exhibition Notes)
With the exception of the museum personnel whose livelihood depends on them, nobody likes a crowd at an art exhibition. Aesthetic experience isn't encouraged by peering over the shoulders of a half-a-dozen onlookers, the tinny squawk of audio tours,...
Up from Communism
My father was a communist. As is often the case, what attracted the father repelled the son. Of course, I don't mean to imply that my anticommunism was merely the consequence of a conflict of generations: I read a fair bit and went to see for myself....