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. 22, No. 2, October

His Secret Life
James Thurber has been unlucky in his biographers, who have tended to like him overmuch or not or all. Their task might have been easier had the story had more drama, or had Thurber been born at a different time. He was too young for the Algonquin...
History by Other Means
When a graceful, smiling Cambodian waitress expresses the hope, in the imperative mood, that you enjoy your breakfast, you can't help wondering what she means by it, if anything at all. Can it really matter very much in a country with a recent history...
Modernism & Its Institutions
I couldn't portray a woman in all her natural loveliness. I haven't the skill. No one has. I must, therefore, create a new sort of beauty, the beauty that appears to me in terms of volume, of line, of mass, of weight, and through that beauty interpret...
O Canada?
"Humor," is not a word that leaps to mind when we think of the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. "Ponderous," perhaps; "instinct with liberal cliches," undoubtedly; but funny? We didn't think it was possible, either. But we were wrong. The venerable...
Orwell on Writing
George Orwell, whose books have sold a phenomenal forty million copies in more than sixty languages, was the most influential prose stylist of the twentieth century. Kingsley Amis observed that "no modern writer has his air of passionately believing...
The Anti-American Obsession
"Cultural diversity" has replaced "cultural exceptionalism" in the French-inspired, European rhetoric. But in actuality, the two terms cover the same kind of cultural protectionism. The idea that a culture can preserve its originality by barricading...
The Poet of the Reich
German-language poetry from the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century, produced three superstars: Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Stefan George. Among them, they accomplished almost everything modern German lyric...
The Victory of Posidippus
In 1992 a mummy of suitably mysterious, not to say suspicious, provcnance was brought to the attention of several classicists at the University of Milan. The chest-covering of the mummy, who has since disappeared, was made of papier-mache formed from...
The Wages of Spin
Like the legendary people who have lived beneath a roaring waterfall for so long that they can no longer hear it, media folk are by now so much accustomed to "spin," the language that they themselves have forced politicians to speak, that they can...
Whither the Psychodramas?
On March 17, 1960, the artist Jean Tinguely nearly set New York's Museum of Modern Art on fire. By all accounts it was a fabulous affair. The governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, was in attendance, as was the rest of the city's elite, a black-tied...