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· Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1, Number 1 · February 1, 1963 James Baldwin and the "Man" By F.W. Dupee The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin The Dial Press, $3.50 As a writer of polemical essays on the Negro question James Baldwin has no equals. He probably has, in fact, no real competitors. The literary role he has taken on so deliberately and played with so agile an intelligence is one that no white writer could possibly imitate and that few Negroes, I imagine, would wish to embrace in toto. Baldwin impresses me as being the Negro in extremis, a virtuoso of ethnic suffering, defiance, and aspiration. His role is that of the man whose complexion constitutes his fate, and not only in a society poisoned by prejudice but, it sometimes seems, in general. For he appears to have received a heavy dose of existentialis m; he is at least half-inclined to see the Negro question in the light of the Human Condition. So he wears his color as Hester Prynne did her scarlet letter, proudly. And like her he converts this thing, in itself so absurdly material, into a form of consciousness, a condition of spirit. Believing himself to have
been branded as different from and inferior to the white majority, he will make a virtue of his situation. He will be different and in his own way be better. His major essays—for example, those collected in Notes of a Native Son—show the extent to which he is able to be different and in his own way better. Most of them were written, as other such pieces generally are, for the magazines, some obviously on assignment. And their subjects—a book, a person, a locale, an encounter—are the inevitable subjects of magazine essays. But Baldwin's way with them is far from inevitable. To apply criticism "in depth" to Uncle Tom's Cabin is, for him, to illuminate not only a book, an author, an age, but a whole strain in a country's culture. Similarly with those routine themes, the Paris expatriate and Life With Father, which he treats in "Equal In Paris" and the title piece of Notes of a Native Son, and which he wholly transfigures. Of course the transfiguring process in Baldwin's essays owes something to the fact that the point of view is a Negro's, an outsider's, just as the satire of American manners in Lolita and Morte d'Urban depends on their being written from the angle of, respectively, a foreign-born creep and a Catholic priest. But Baldwin's point of view in his essays is not merely that of the generic Negro. It is, as I have said, that of a highly stylized Negro, a role which he plays with an artful and zestful consistency and which he
expresses in a language distinguished by clarity, brevity, and a certain formal elegance. He is in love, for example, with syntax, with sentences that mount through clearly articulated stages to a resounding and clarifying climax and then gracefully subside. For instance this one, from The Fire Next Time: NYRB Holiday Sale Girls, only slightly older than I was, who sang in the choir or taught Sunday school, the children of holy parents, underwent, before my eyes, their incredible metamorphosis, of which the most bewildering aspect was not their budding breasts or their rounding behinds but something deeper and more subtle, in their eyes, their heat, their odor, and the inflection of their voices. Nobody else in democratic America writes sentences like this anymore. It suggests the ideal prose of an ideal literary community, some aristocratic France of one's dreams. This former Harlem boy has undergone his own incredible metamorphosis. His latest book, The Fire Next Time, differs in important ways from his earlier work in the essay. Its subjects are less concrete, less clearly defined; to a considerable extent he has exchanged prophecy for criticism, exhortation for analysis, and the results for his mind and style are in part disturbing. The Fire Next Time gets its title from a slave song: "God
gave Noah the rainbow sign,/No more water the fire next time." But this small book with the incendiary title consists of two independent essays, both in the form of letters. One is a brief affair entitled "My Dungeon Shook" and addressed to "My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation." The ominous promise of this title is fulfilled in the text. Between the hundred-year-old anniversary and the fifteenyear-old nephew the disparity is too great even for a writer of Baldwin's rhetorical powers. The essay reads like some specimen of "public speech" as practiced by MacLeish or Norman Corwin. It is not good Baldwin. The other, much longer, much more significant essay appeared first in a pre-Christmas number of The New Yorker, where it made, understandably, a sensation. It is called "Down At the Cross; Letter From a Region of My Mind." The subtitle should be noted. Evidently the essay is to be taken as only a partial or provisional declaration on Baldwin's part, a single piece of his mind. Much of it, however, requires no such appeal for caution on the reader's part. Much of it is unexceptionably first-rate. For example, the reminiscences of the writer's boyhood, which form the lengthy introduction. Other of Baldwin's writings have made us familiar with certain aspects of his Harlem past. Here he concentrates on quite different things: the boy's increasing awareness of the abysmally narrow world of
choice he inhabits as a Negro, his attempt to escape a criminal existence by undergoing a religious conversion and becoming at fifteen a revivalist preacher, his discovery that he must learn to "inspire fear" if he hopes to survive the fear inspired in him by "the man"—the white man. In these pages we come close to understanding why he eventually assumed his rather specialized literary role. It seems to have grown naturally out of his experience of New York City. As distinct from a rural or small-town Negro boy, who is early and firmly taught his place, young Baldwin knew the treacherous fluidity and anonymity of the metropolis, where hidden taboos and unpredictable animosities lay in wait for him and a trip to the 42nd Street Library could be a grim adventure. All this part of the book is perfect; and when Baldwin finally gets to what is his ostensible subject, the Black Muslims or Nation of Islam movement, he is very good too. As good, that is, as possible considering that his relations with the movement seem to have been slight. He once shared a television program with Malcolm X, "the movement's second-in-command," and he paid a brief and inconclusive visit to the first-in-command, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and his entourage at the party's headquarters in Chicago. (Muhammad ranks as a prophet; to him the Black Muslim doctrines were "revealed by Allah Himself.") Baldwin reports the Chicago
encounter in charming detail and with what looks like complete honesty. On his leaving the party's rather grand quarters, the leader insisted on providing him with a car and driver to protect him "from the white devils until he gets wherever it is he is going." Baldwin accepted, he tells us, adding wryly: "I was, in fact, going to have a drink with several white devils on the other side of town." He offers some data on the Black Muslim movement, its aims and finances. But he did a minimum of homework here. Had he done more he might at least have provided a solid base for the speculative fireworks the book abounds in. To cope thoroughly with the fireworks in short space, or perhaps any space, seems impossible. Ideas shoot from the book's pages as the sparks fly upward, in bewildering quantity and at random. I don't mean that it is all dazzle. On the cruel paradoxes of the Negro's life, the failures of Christianity, the relations of Negro and Jew, Baldwin is often superb. But a lot of damage is done to his argument by his indiscriminate raids on Freud, Lawrence, Sartre, Genet, and other psychologists, metaphysicians and melodramatists. Still more damage is done by his refusal to draw on anyone so humble as Martin Luther King and his fellow-practitioners of non-violent struggle. For example: "White Americans do not believe in death, and this is why the darkness of my
this time a regular apocalypse: In order to survive as a human. moral weight in the world.skin so intimidates them. Again: "A vast amount of the energy that goes into what we call the Negro problem is produced by the white man's profound desire not to be judged by those who are not white. Since whole cultures have never been known to "discard nearly all their assumptions" and yet remain intact." You exaggerate the white man's consciousness of the Negro. this amounts to saying that . America and all the Western nations will be forced to reexamine themselves and release themselves from many things that are now taken to be sacred. Moreover. especially their lives." Again: "Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?" Since you have no other. to put it mildly. or their property threatened. their self-image. yes. and to discard nearly all the assumptions that have been used to justify their lives and their anguish and their crimes so long. this imputing of "real reasons" for the behavior of entire populations is self-defeating. One last quotation. Again: "The real reason that nonviolence is considered to be a virtue in Negroes…is that white men do not want their lives. moving." Of course they don't. Suppose someone coolly asks what it means to "believe in death. and the better-disposed firemen will welcome your assistance." But suppose one or two white Americans are not intimidated.
unless it is the more literate Black Muslims. or at least to cause a lot of trouble. he manifestly weakens his grasp of his role. So much for the fireworks. . his style. whose program Baldwin specifically rejects as both vindictive and unworkable. that is.any essential improvement in Negro-white relations. And with the situation as it is in Mississippi and elsewhere—dangerous. and thus in the quality of American life. but they are very well placed indeed to precipitate chaos and ring down the curtain on the American dream. Assuming that a book can do anything to either. And to what end? Who is likely to be moved by such arguments. What damage. can do nothing except inflame the former and confuse the latter. in its madder moments. and his great theme itself." I should think that the anti-Negro extremists were even better placed than the Negroes to precipitate chaos. as I called it. some process whereby their truth or untruth will be gauged according to their social utility? He writes: "The Negroes of this country may never be able to rise to power. is unlikely. to the Negro struggle and the whole social order—is not a writer of Baldwin's standing obliged to submit his assertions to some kind of pragmatic test. and it is unclear to me how The Fire Next Time. do they do to the writer and his cause —which is also the concern of plenty of others? When Baldwin replaces criticism with prophecy.
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and his Muse (see etymology of "mosaic") is interested in organic processes of multiplication and duplication. anthropology. Number 1 · February 1. Or like a worm that you can chop up into sections each of which wriggles off as an independent worm. Or a nine-lived cat. he means.Volume 1. 6. a montage. from its planetary . His book. 1963 Déjeuner sur l'Herbe By Mary McCarthy The Naked Lunch by William S. suiting the action to the word. in "an atrophied preface" he appends as a tail-piece. which is all "ancient history"— sloughed-off skin." says Burroughs. It is as though Finnegans Wake were cut loose from history and adapted for a cinerama circus titled "One World. what is original is the scientific bent he gives it and a view of the world that combines biochemistry. is not original with Burroughs. Or a cancer.00 "You can cut into The Naked Lunch at any intersection point." especially in its scientific sense of a plant-mottling caused by a virus. is like a neighborhood movie with continuous showings that you can drop into whenever you please—you don't have to wait for the beginning of the feature picture. and politics. The literary notion of time as simultaneous." The Naked Lunch has no use for history. He is fond of the word "mosaic. Burroughs Grove Press.
like the oil-burning Ford V-8. an archetypal Southern druggist. and various boys with whining voices. The principal characters. a carnival con man. Benway. Among the minor characters are a number of automobiles. The oldest memory in The Naked Lunch is of jacking-off in boyhood latrines. Dr. are his friend. there are only geography and customs. a sailor. Seen in terms of space. two vaudevillians. J. Clem and Jody. who is taking a drug cure. an Arab called Ahmed. William Lee. the Vigilante. the last of the Big Spenders. Doc Parker ("a man don't have no secrets from God and his druggist"). each with its specific complaint. the Party Leader. various members of the Narcotic Squad. a charlatan medico who is treating Lee. John and Mary. besides Lee. and a puzzled American housewife who is heard complaining because the Mixmaster keeps trying to climb . NYRB / Names on the Land The action of The Naked Lunch takes place in the consciousness of One Man. the first serious piece of science fiction—the others are entertainment. A. a film executive. a memory recaptured through pederasty. the sex acrobats. Bill Gains (who seems momentarily to turn into a woman called Jane).. especially one Bradley the Buyer. This must be the first space novel. history shrivels into a mere wrinkling or furrowing of the surface as in an aerial relief-map or one of those pieced-together aerial photographs known in the trade as mosaics.perspective.
shiftily. like the historical. who appears in a series of disguises. particularly the inimical ones. Louis to New Orleans to Mexico to Malmo. Burroughs is fond too of the word "ectoplasm. are ventriloquial voices produced. and this is Burroughs' sardonic image of modern life.up under her dress. as it were. But the haunting is less visual than auditory. Control. These "characters. is in fact a circus. against the will of the ventriloquist. The scene shifts about. can never be a means to anything but more control—like drugs. for all these modern places and modern individuals (if that is the right word) have interchangeable parts. seem ectoplasmic phantoms projected on the wide screen of his consciousness from a mass séance. with sideshows in the political and "social" sphere—the social here has vanished. its con men and barkers. The best comparison for the book. ." and the beings that surround Lee. and the human identities shift about shiftily too. Passages of dialogue and description keep recurring in different contexts with slight variations. underlining it. as though they possessed ubiquity. except in quotation marks. worldwide. Sweden. from New York to Chicago to St. Venice. as Burroughs says. The Barnum of the show is the mass-manipulator." in the colloquial sense. A circus travels but it is always the same. with its aerial sex acts performed on a high trapeze. and the vicious circle of addiction is reenacted. its arena-like form. who has become their dummy.
like Burroughs' human circus. my boy!"). the professor in the classroom ("Hehe hehe he").D." likewise). the attorney in court ("Hehe hehe he.' Always ominous opening words. Benway's laboratory goes on the rampage. The complacent sound of snickering laughter is an alarm signal. lurking in the hotel lobby. and the freaks escape to mingle with the controlled citizens of Freeland in a general riot. complacently: "I'm a crossword puzzle addict. On a level usually thought to be "harmless. an accident may occur." etcetera. or in the scene where the hogs are let loose in the gourmet restaurant." addiction to platitudes and commonplaces is global. a High-Fi addict. and the Southern folk-custom of burning a Negro recurs throughout the book as a sort of Fourth-of-July carnival with fireworks. as when the electronic brain in Dr. The same for Doc Parker with his captive customer in the back room of his pharmacy ("…So long as you got a legitimate condition and an Rx from a certified bona feedy M. with their cages of wild animals. are also dangerous. To Burroughs' ear. as people indeed are wont to say of themselves. the Bore. Circuses. like the suave bell-tones of the psychiatrist and the emphatic drone of the Party Leader ("You see . is literally deadly (" 'You look to me like a man of intelligence.for everything has become automatized. The South is addicted to lynching and niggerhating. Everyone is an addict of one kind or another.. I'm honored to serve you").
" "Why cancha just get physical like a human?" "So I guess he come to some kinda awful climax. Overheard at a lynching: "Don't crowd too close." This aggrieved tone merges with the malingering sighs of the American housewife. going about their ordinary everyday tasks." "But he comes to a climax and turns into some kinda awful crab. Leading their ordinary lives." And the clarion of the Salesman: "When the Priority numbers are called up yonder I'll be there. Ordinary men and women going about their ordinary everyday tasks. Cut to ordinary men and women. and my intestines is all constipated. That's what we need…"). opening a box of Lux: "I got the most awful cold.men and women. His intestines is subject to explode in the fire." "You think I am innarested to hear about your horrible old condition? I am not innarested at all. they like to talk about their diseases and about vile practices that paralyze the practitioner from the waist down or about a worm that gets into your kidney and grows to enormous size or about the "horrible" result of marijuana addiction—it makes you turn black and your legs drop off. boys. The whine of the put-upon boy hustler: "All kinda awful sex acts." The same diffusion of ." These average folks are addicts of the science page of the Sunday supplements. The superstitious scientific vocabulary is diffused from the laboratory and the mental hospital into the general population.
not only the obsession with excrement and the horror of female genitalia but a disgust with politics and the whole body politic. There is a great deal of Laputa in the countries Burroughs calls Interzone and Freeland. often in the same places. and indeed between Burroughs and Swift there are many points of comparison. as the characters would say. In defense. A lieutenant to his general: "But. chief. Swift could be cited. of course. of faeces. A reader whose erogenous zones are more temperate than the author's begins to feel either that he is a square (a guilty sentiment he should not yield to) or that he is the captive of an addict. becomes too much of a bad thing. can't we get them started and they imitate each other like a chained reaction?" The phenomenon of repetition. from the body's orifices. It is disgusting and sometimes tiresome. and of all sorts of "horrible" discharges. Like Swift. like the sado-masochistic sex performances—the automatic ejaculation of a hanged man is not everybody's cantharides. Burroughs has irritable nerves and something of the crafty temperament of the inventor. gives rise to boredom.culture takes place with modern physics. The prominence of the anus. many readers complain that they cannot get through The Naked Lunch. and Swift's solution for the Irish problem would appeal to the . And/or that they find it disgusting.
which he locates in the future. its pharmacopeia. to an Age of Reason. antennae of television to the meaningless sky…. As Gulliver. He calls himself a "Factualist" and belongs. a vaudeville performer playing in One. miasma of mound-building peoples. slightly refurbished. but in his deadpan explanatory notes ("This is a rural English custom designed to eliminate aged and bedfast dependents") there is a Swiftian factuality. Burroughs's humor is peculiarly American. in front of the asbestos curtain to some Keith Circuit or Pantages house long since converted to movies. as in Swift. Yet what saves The Naked Lunch is not a literary ancestor but humor.American's dry logic. has the flavor of eighteenthcentury satire." The style here is more emotive than Swift's. at once broad and sly. some straight. the way a vaudeville artist used to change Yonkers to . all alone. Illinois and Missouri. some loaded. there is a kind of soured utopianism. Burroughs parodies the anthropologist in his descriptions of the American heartland: "…the Interior a vast subdivision. its extracts from a diary. Swift posed as an anthropologist (though the study was not known by that name then) among savage people. to suit the circumstances. The same jokes reappear. with its battery of notes and citations. cruel and ugly festivals. like a ship's log. The "factual" appearance of the whole narrative. In him. It is the humor of a comedian. grovelling worship of the Food Source.
the jugglers. the very funny scene in Chez Robert.. gives his hogcall. Some of the jokes are verbal ("Stop me if you've heard this atomic secret" or Dr. Clem and Jody. and Durante act. the piano player. The effect of pandemonium. Benway's "A simopath…is a citizen convinced he is an ape or other simian. appears. are hired by the Russians to give Americans a bad name abroad: they appear in Liberia wearing black Stetsons and red galluses and talking loudly about burning niggers back home. the magician. A. E. and orders a bottle of ketchup. the hoofers. in his last appearance. his voice fading out: "Cancer. It is a disorder peculiar to the army and discharge cures it"). . "where a huge icy gourmet broods over the greatest cuisine in the world": A. the comedians. all hell breaking loose. which is always good for a laugh: somebody is cutting the cocaine/the morphine/the penicillin with Saniflush." as when the hoofers. the last of the Big Spenders. J. immediate pandemonium. as if in a Marx Brothers or a Clayton.g.Renton when he was playing Seattle. the Saniflush joke. my first love"). J. Some are whole vaudeville "numbers. all pushing into the act. For example. is one of Burroughs' favorites and an equivalent of the old vaudeville finale. and the shocked gourmet diners are all devoured by famished hogs. with the acrobats. Some are mimic buffoonery (Dr. Benway. Jackson. A skit like this may rise to a frenzy. the ladywho-was-cut-in-half. dreamily.
A citizen is turned into animal form. rapid or creeping. but as Burroughs shrewdly observes in one passage: "A functioning police state needs no police. or into some unspeakable monstrosity like Bradley the Narcotics Agent who turns into an unidentifiable carnivore. The police are the enemy. This would seem to be Burroughs's position. from the junkie's angle. escape from control is mass slaughter or reduction to a state of proliferating cellular matter. Growth and deterioration are the same thing: a human being "deteriorates" or "grows" into a one-man jungle. You might say that it would have been better to have no control. then there would be no police states.Another favorite effect. The impression left by this is perplexing. a crab or a huge centipede. in the first place. is the metamorphosis. These metamorphoses. On the one hand. on the other. control is evil. of course. are really cancerous onslaughts—matter on the rampage multiplying itself and "building" as a revue scene "builds" to a climax. but it is not consistent with his picture of sex. What you think of it depends on your point of view." The policeman is internalized in the citizen. functioning or otherwise. The Hellzapoppin effect of orgies and riots and the metamorphosis effect. The . Bradley is better as a carnivore eating the Narcotics Commissioner than he was as "fuzz"—junky slang for the police. no police. are punishments. with Burroughs.
the jet of sperm. But there is little overt love of the life-principle in The Naked Lunch. It is true that Nature and sex are two-faced and that growth is death-oriented. the least "natural" part of the personality. The sexual climax. and Dr. It is impossible. then a need for control is posited. again. shooting his jissom into pure space. he says with emphasis. Such a system might suit Marcus Aurelius. a subjection of the impulse to the will. The human virus can now be treated. And. accompanied by a whistling scream.libertarian position usually has as one of its axioms a love of Nature and the natural. Yet the laboratory of The Naked Lunch is a musical-comedy inferno. that is. By scientific methods. Benway's assistant is a female chimpanzee. commonly identified with sex. this seems to be Burroughs' position too. he implies. and the "perfect" orgasm would seem to be the posthumous orgasm of the hanged man. and sex. But if Nature is not seen as far more good than evil. And even if it were (for the . Then what? Self-control? Do-it-yourself? But selfcontrol. strangely. to have scientific experiment without control. meaning the species itself. while magnified—a common trait of homosexual literature—is a kind of mechanical mantrap baited with fresh meat. is an internalized system of authority. of the life-principle itself. but it hardly seems congenial to the author of The Naked Lunch. is often a death spasm. as Burroughs knows.
1963: Louis Untermeyer. In short. Possibly this is what Burroughs means: in fact his present literary exercises may be stages in such a deliberate experiment. finally. Burroughs's remarkable talent is only part of the reason. but all courage nowadays is probably crankish. The literalness of Burroughs is the opposite of "literature." Unsentimental and factual. for the first time in recent years. prescriptions. he has a crankish courage. That—to answer a pained question that keeps coming up like a refrain— is why the book is taken seriously. like an Rx prescription. the other part is that. it would not form the basis for scientific experiment on the "human virus.author is at once puritan and tolerant)." Only for scientific experiment on oneself. The questions just posed would not arise if The Naked Lunch did not contain messages that unluckily are somewhat arcane. Not just messages. a talented writer means what he says to be taken and used literally. email icon Email to a friend Letters June 1. Letter Search the Review Advanced search NYR Holiday Subscription Special Little . he writes as though his thoughts had the quality of self-evidence.
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Alexander Solzhenitsyn. $3. 1963 House of the Dead? By Philip Rahv One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. who is at present teaching physics and mathematics in a secondary school. translated by Max Hayward. Its narrative tone and method.95 This is an important book. Prager. never getting out of hand.P. by Ronald Hingley Frederick A. Number 1 · February 1. translated by Ralph Parker E. it is cast in a fictional form superbly adapted to its subject.95 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Dutton. The author.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. finely controls the powerful emotional content. $3. served with distinction in the Red Army during the war but was arrested . perhaps the most important that has come out of Russia in many years. relying on the selective accumulation of minute factual particulars. A completely authentic account of life in the forced-labor camps under Stalin. never descending to rhetorical presentation or to any sort of preaching and moralizing.
is reserved for the simple village workman. NYR Holiday Subscription Special As all ideologies are alien to Shukhov. exhibiting certain traits that are new as well as traits deeply rooted in the Russian literary tradition. from first page to last. who has no head for politics or any kind of "learned conversation. For Karatayev. existing in an environment where the only time the prisoners are not marched out to work in the early mornings is when the thermometer goes down to forty-two degrees below zero. is invested with a goodness that is altogether credible. without appeal to higher powers or utopian and ambiguous dreams of saintliness. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. The experience recorded in One Day no doubt parallels his own. That role. standing somewhat apart from the other characters in War and Peace. The figure in that tradition he most reminds me of is Tolstoy's Platon Karatayev. while Shukhov. he . so none can ruin him. but he is not the novel's protagonist. He fills in every crevice of his own nature. who are portrayed with surpassing realism." and was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. But there is also a significant difference between them." He is a wonderful creation. altogether embedded in the actual. is in the main a mythic figure.in 1945 on what is now officially admitted to be a "baseless political charge. an abstraction of Christian goodness. Neither hero nor saint. in no way dependent on religious doctrine or precept.
Or if not. So you just went on living like this. Shukhov has been "walking this earth for forty years. he was as good as buried. He'd lost half his teeth and was getting bald. it was very simple. "You finished a ten-year stretch and they gave you another one. Humble yet extremely resourceful in small ways.yields neither to hope nor despair but depends for survival on his own largely unconscious and invulnerable humanity. he'd still go on living for a while. Though guiltless." He knows that the authorities twisted the law any way they wanted. they still wouldn't let you go home…. he was forced to give evidence against himself: "The way he figured. ." Shukhov's fate is the essence of the Stalinist terror-system. and he hadn't learned that trick in the camp either. a man whose self-respect demands that he do his work properly and even joyfully." And why was Shukhov put in a concentration camp? He had escaped from a German prisoners-of-war cage and upon returning to his own lines found himself accused of treason. He'd never given or taken a bribe from anybody. But if he did. with your eyes on the ground. he is the unbeatable human being whom the regime can at any time destroy but never convert nor make over in its own image thus giving the lie to Orwell's nightmare of total demoralization in 1984. So he signed. If he didn't sign. and you had no time to think about how you got in and when you'd get out. Though in no way exceptional.
How greatly the Russian people have suffered that their writers thus tragically echo each other across a century! . sentenced by the Czar to penal servitude. published almost exactly a hundred years ago. which surprises and impresses us most in One Day. in my view. without the distempers and consolations of ideology. was a political criminal. such as Alyosheka the Baptist and Tuyrin the boss of the work squad. even when ill. It is the same theme that Dostoevsky developed. and freezing.However. As a novel it is not. without despair or overt bitterness. too. the "great work of art" that some people say it is. the nature of man under extreme conditions of inhumanity. though in a manner quite different. Dostoevsky. so long outlawed in the Communist theory and practice of literature. Now it is precisely this newly won and truly existential personalization of vision. is treated unpretentiously. its scale is too small for that. and above all. in his House of the Dead. Its theme. But it is a very fine book in which not a false note is struck. starving. are portrayed with equal responsiveness to their personal qualities. the way in which the author chiefly succeeds in his characterization of Shukhov is not by harping on his innocence or putting any kind of political gloss on his ordeal but by depicting him throughout as a person in his own right—not merely a victim and least of all a symptom but always a person. another account of life in a Siberian prison. The secondary characters.
S-854 is inviolable. Its publication in Russia thus clearly marks some kind of breakthrough towards freedom in Soviet writing. In the long run it cannot conceivably benefit any authoritarian elite. And in the one "learned conversation" in the book. in its broader aspects. could possibly have forseen that the party-hierarchs would be prevailed upon to permit the publication of a work so devastating in its implications. we come upon the following . the integrity of this story of an ordinary winter day. the world is still unpredictable after all. not even the most astute Kremlinologist among us. is scarcely open to political manipulation. from reveille to lights out. overheard on the run by the protagonist.One Day first appeared in the Moscow literary monthly Novy Mir for November in 1962 in an edition of 95. The novel's meaning. The lessons it enforces—such as "How can you expect a man who's warm to understand a man who's cold?"—are of a down-to-earth simplicity that should make any ideologue of power quail. No one. No. Thank God.000 copies that was at once sold out. in the life of Prisoner No. whether Communist or anti-Communist. It's all very well to say that its subject fits in with Khrushchev's renewed campaign against Stalin. It is senseless to see its meaning serving the partisan interests of any faction in the Soviet power structure. That is true only in an immediate and narrowly political sense.
However. email icon Email to a friend NYR Subscriptions-Save $41! Search the Review Advanced search Little Bookroom / Budapest NYR Holiday . for they are bound to get in each other's way so far as prospective readers are concerned. Don't call Eisenstein a genius! Call him a toady. and the more readers this book has the better. but that should not prejudice readers one way or the other. he is by all means welcome to them. though the Hayward-Hingley translation (Praeger) is somewhat more forceful and slashingly idiomatic in style. say he carried out orders like a dog. In a way it is a pity that we have on hand two simultaneously published and competing American editions of the book. The Parker translation (Dutton) has been authorized in Moscow. both versions seem to me satisfactory on the whole. A genius doesn't adapt his treatment to the taste of tyrants!" If Khrushchev can turn such sentiments to his own use.words in a very brief discussion of Eisenstein's famous film Ivan The Terrible: "The politics of it is utterly vile—vindication of a one-man tyranny. An insult to the memory of three generations of Russian intellectuals….
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95 (paper) Edward Albee's first four plays were remarkable for an unusual ability to imagine and develop a dialogue that was both realistic and absurd: true to life. Something similar happens to the dialogue between the doctor and the nurse in The Death of Bessie Smith. where a pitiless description of the cold vulgarity of relations existing in a hospital is suddenly turned into the tearful story of the Negro singer who bled . that is. Number 1 · February 1. 1963 Albee Damned By Nicola Chiaromonte Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee Atheneum.Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. and one is made to expect a consistent development and a congruous ending. Instead of which comes a very incongruous trick: a knife is forced into the hands of the harmless Madison Avenue employee so that the tramp—suddenly made into a psychological metaphor—can commit suicide on it. except to end them with some abruptly introduced trick. $1. for example. At the same time. In the Zoo Story. the meeting between the tramp and the wellpaid intellectual unfolds for a while with all the appropriate cruelty. the playwright did not seem to know what to do with the situations he had created.
And in fact. The two plays that followed these. no more than a superficial impression. of brutal realism and false symbolism. that characterized his first plays. in these two plays there is something like an attempt to create the American equivalent of the theater of Ionesco and Beckett. while the comico-symbolic imagination is both weak and uncertain. to both of whom Albee is obviously indebted. NYR Holiday Subscription Special On the basis of his first four plays one could not really make up one's mind as to the direction in which Albee was headed. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? seems to settle the question: Albee is headed for popular success precisely because of the same unconvincing mixture of lively dialogue and incongruous tricks. This is. a realistic inspiration clearly dominates these plays too. led theatergoers to think Albee was headed away from realism toward some kind of ironic allegory. But insofar as it lays claim to . however. Insofar as the play is this. it is indeed successful in its own very limited way. The Sandbox and The American Dream.to death because she was denied admission to a Southern clinic. although it was clear that he had theatrical talent. This last play can best be described as a photographic description of a running fight between a wife and husband.
grudges and obscenities really mean. A drunken fight that goes on from two in the morning until five is hardly the best situation through which to reveal the real relation between two human beings. That they drink so much might indeed be significant. and obviously theatrical. . and is quite readable. accusations. The first act is innocent of any such ambitions. cannot on the face of it be of much consequence. but also a theatrical action —something that really happens between the two characters—and not just a series of only too probable and sordid exchanges. Had Albee faced the problem of carrying out to its most extreme consequences the situation he had actually begun with—the merciless fight between husband and wife—he might have written an interesting play. This being the case. no matter how brutal and obscene. symbolic meaning. it is pretty unbearable. It is quite impossible to know what these insults. But then. and keep drinking relentlessly. It is pure dialogue between a married couple who not only dislike each other but are drunk. but is it a sufficient characterization? This is where the playwright's tricks come in. and especially what the wife says. of course. he would have had to imagine not only an interminable continuation of the fight itself. what they say. and of the drinking.some deeper.
To do this. obscenities and drinking of the play by some other means than complete exhaustion.Instead of inventing something. But this does not solve the problem of the plot which is simply to end the quarreling. What we are actually given is the description of a battle between a rather formidable female and an understandably depressed. younger couple obviously headed for an even worse fate than that of the two mature characters. Albee resorts to one of the most unlikely tricks in the history of the contemporary theater. or unwilling. The fight is complicated by the presence of a second. of course. namely that his couple represented at the same time the American couple and the decay of Western civilization. But this does not add anything to the meaning of the play. male. and the main dialogue tends to become monotonous. especially since the author seems incapable of using his imagination. insults. It is a good theatrical device to provide a kind of counterpoint to the main dialogue. Then he looked for a mechanical way of stretching the dialogue into three very long acts with an ending that would be both theatrical and pathetic. although resentful. He imagines that the son to whom his . exist—except in the author's mind. The symbolic meaning of the play does not. it would seem that Albee made instead the unwarranted assumption that his play had a symbolic meaning.
The poignancy of the situation is supposed to be enhanced by the fact that. He announces—in the presence of the same strangers—that the fabulous son has died. in the end. Much to the comfort of its Broadway audience. the husband punishes his wife for having mentioned this imaginary son in the presence of strangers. one must suppose. And so Albee's pièce noire is suddenly turned into a pièce rose. a melancholy fairy tale that the two have been telling each other for years.characters have been referring does not exist at all—that he is only a creature of their imagination. email icon Email to a friend NYR Subscriptions-Save $41! Search the Review Advanced search NYR Holiday Subscription Special NYRB Children's Picture Books .
1963 Simone Weil By Susan Sontag Selected Essays by Simone Weil. the hysterics. the destroyers of the self —these are the writers who bear witness to the fearful polite time in which we live. who impress by force—not simply by their tone of personal authority and by their intellectual ardor. translated by Richard Rees Oxford University Press. obsessive. Number 1 · February 1. $7. they are writers who are repetitive. but by the sense of acute personal and intellectual extremity. Please contact web@nybooks. All rights reserved. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15.Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. 2009. NYREV.00 The culture-heroes of our liberal bourgeois civilization are anti-liberal and anti-bourgeois. It is mostly a matter of tone: it is hardly possible to give credence to ideas uttered in the impersonal . Inc.com with any questions about this site. The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. The bigots. and impolite.
the enormous indulgence in suffering out of which Kliest's plays and tales were mined—is just what we value today. Their unhealthiness is their soundness. In the same way. NYRB / Chrysalids Holiday Perhaps there are certain ages which do not need truth as much as they need a deepening of the sense of reality. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. too deafened by contradictory historical and intellectual experiences. Today Kleist gives pleasure. What revolted the mature Goethe in the young Kleist. Sanity becomes compromise. Goethe is to some a duty. the sense of the unhealthy. Each of our truths must have a martyr. There are certain eras which are too complex. evasion. Dostoyevsky. a lie. Baudelaire.tones of sanity. We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering—rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer's words correspond. Rimbaud. the hysterical. and is what carries conviction. and yet only believes in the reality of sickness. Kafka. who submitted his work to the elder statesman of German letters "on the knees of his heart"—the morbid. Ours is an age which consciously pursues health. Genet—and Simone Weil—have their authority with us because of their air of unhealthiness. such writers as Kierkegaard. Nietzsche. to hear the voice of sanity. a widening of the .
Similarly. I cannot believe that more than a handful of the tens of thousands of readers she has won since the posthumous publication of her books and essays really share her ideas. it may better serve the needs of the spirit. The truth is balance. for the example of their seriousness. or concur in her violently unfair hatred of Roman civilization and the Jews. Thus I do not mean to decry a fashion. but the opposite of truth. most of their modern admirers could not. do not doubt that the sane view of the world is the true one. truth? The need for truth is not constant. We read writers of such scathing originality for their personal authority. which vary. I. no more than is the need for repose. but to underscore the motive behind the contemporary taste for the extreme in art and thought. But is that what is always wanted. or accept her gnostic theology of divine absence. may not be a lie. for one. Nor is it necessary—necessary to share Simone Weil's anguished and unconsummated love affair with the Catholic Church. and do not embrace their ideas. An idea which is a distortion may have a greater intellectual thrust than the truth. which is unbalance. that we recognize why we read and admire writers like Simone Weil.imagination. for their manifest willingness to sacrifice themselves for their . with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. or espouse her ideals of body denial. All that is necessary is that we not be hypocritical.
nourished by it. so the sensitive modern reader pays his respect to a level of spiritual reality which is not. the difference between the hero and the saint (if one may use the latter term in an aesthetic." As the corrupt Alcibiades followed Socrates. I am thinking of the fanatical asceticism of Simone Weil's life. as well as life. Yet so far as we love seriousness. and of exemplary lives. but moved. and I do not exclude her homeliness. we are moved by it. and reverence. others not. be his own. and—only piecemeal—for their "views. rather than a religious sense). No one who loves life would wish to imitate her dedication to martyrdom nor would wish it for his children nor for anyone else whom he loves. her noble and ridiculous political gestures. roughly. absurd in its exaggerations and degree of selfmutilation—like Kleist's. we acknowledge the presence of mystery in the world—and mystery is just what the secure possession of the truth. It is. her tuberculosis.truths. pity. an . Such a life. her contempt for pleasure and for happiness. Some lives are exemplary. her physical clumsiness. there are those which invite us to imitate them. could not. unable and unwilling to change his own life. her elaborate self-denials. her tireless courting of affliction. In the respect we pay to such lives. and full of love. like Kierkegaard's— was Simone Weil's. her migraines. and those which we regard from a distance with a mixture of revulsion. enriched.
health-creating. This new volume of translations from Simone Weil's work. There it suffered the curious and instructive fate of requiring a defensive editorial in June. some (but not all) denials of life are truthgiving. when the second part of the essay appeared.) Another essay. The remaining essays are on ." It certainly speaks volumes about the philistine level of English intellectual life. and some (but not all) distortions of the truth. displays her somewhat marginally. called "Draft for a Statement of Human Obligations. the opening essay here titled "Human Personality" which was written in 1943. It contains one great essay. some (but not all) unhealthiness. all truth is superficial. replying to criticism of the magazine's decision to publish the essay "on the grounds that it involves heavy going for some readers. placed last in the book. and life-enhancing. In this sense. the year of her death in England at the age of thirty-four. Selected Essays 1934-43. denies. by the way. grateful audience for such a piece. was first published in two parts under the title "The Fallacy of Human Rights" in the British magazine The Twentieth Century in May and June 1959.objective truth. some (but not all) insanity." also written the year of her death. (This essay. sanity-producing. contains matter central to Simone Weil's ideas. if even as good a magazine as The Tweentieth Century cannot muster an enthusiastic.
who displays an unpleasant silence on the Nazi persecution of the Jews. develops the parallel between Rome (and the ancient Hebrew theocracy!) and Nazi Germany." Her fascination with the psychological effects of wielding power and submitting to coercion. The longest argument of the book. several long essays on the Roman Empire which draw an extensive parallel between imperial Rome and Hitler's Germany. and the post-war future. one on a proletarian uprising in Renaissance Florence." Readers of Simone Weil's Notebooks (two volumes. According to Simone Weil. Hitler is no worse than Napoleon.specific historical and political subjects—two on the civilization of Languedoc. is nothing more than "a rather more romantic name for nationalism. spanning several essays. led her to equate all forms of state authority as manifestations of what she calls "the great beast. and various reflections on the Second World War. the colonial problem. than Caesar. There is also an interesting and sensitive letter to George Bernanos. This fundamental argument—along with her . than Richelieu. combined with her strict denial of any idea of historical progress. Hitler's racialism. she says. published in 1959) and her Intimations of Christianity Among the Ancient Greeks (1958) will be familiar with her attempt to derive everything distinctively Christian from Greek spirituality as well as to deny entirely Chrisianity's Hebraic origins.
It is perhaps not the book to start one's acquaintance with this writer—Waiting for God. for the Manichean and Catharist heresies—colors all her historical essays. is the best for that. This is not to deny that there are subtle historical insights in these essays: as for example. Rome. Simone Weil as a historical writer is tendentious. Like Gibbon (whose view of the Roman Empire she absolutely contradicts). no more than a sense of humor. Impartiality. As a historian she is simply not at her best. (Immediately after. is not the virtue of a writer like Simone Weil. when she points out that Hitlerism consists in the application by Germany to the European continent. and the white race generally.admiration for Provençal civilization. no one who disbelieves so fundamentally in the phenomena of historical change and innovation can be wholly satisfying as a historian.) The principal value of the collection is simply that anything from Simone Weil's pen is worth reading. exhaustive. I cannot accept Simone Weil's gnostic reading of Christianity as historically sound (its religious truth is another matter). The originality of her psychological insight. of colonial methods of conquest and domination. and infuriatingly certain. the . she says that these—both Hitler's methods and the "normal colonial ones"—are derived from the Roman model. nor can I fail to be offended by the vindictive parallels she draws between Nazism. I think. and Israel. of course.
Inc. 2009. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher.passion and subtlety of her theological imagination . All rights reserved. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. email icon Email to a friend NYR Subscriptions-Save $41! Search the Review Advanced search NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. the fecundity of her exegetical talents are unevenly displayed here. The New York Review of Books . Please contact web@nybooks. the person who is rightly regarded as one of the most uncompromising and troubling witnesses to the modern travail of the spirit. NYREV. Yet the person of Simone Weil is here as surely as in any of her other books—the person who is excruciatingly identical with her ideas.com with any questions about this site.
Since the war the study of society has become an American industry. They claimed to be empirical and open-minded. The result of all these advances in social . 1963 History on the Couch By William Phillips Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti Viking. But their complaints were themselves so slick that they immediately became fashionable. There were of course some solid works. but most of the new studies were little more than progress reports on the growth of American society.Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. Europe was bound to break the American monopoly in the manufacture of new social theories and facts. but what they really did was to create a new style of observation that made their theories and insights look like facts. and though the sociologists have naturally been the biggest producers. $7. Some of these studies used the new style for cultural apologetics instead of analysis. and a number of freelance thinkers have also made their contribution to the national effort.50 Sooner or later. Number 1 · February 1. a few historians. and many of them complained about the slickness of the culture. Others seemed to be more critical. some glossy journalists.
as "a new Golden Bough. sociology. and Iris Murdoch.thought was that the thing criticized became indistinguishable from the criticism of it. Canetti's theme seems to be that history boils down to two elements: society. Now we have a new work from abroad. one cannot help remembering how many great books were born without such fanfare. combining politics. and soon both became part of the same cultural package. The book is so extravagantly well-blurbed. When a new book is hailed in the way Crowds and Power is. and by such respectable figures as Arnold Toynbee. C. It is said to present a new view of civilization that combines the qualities of vision with those of analysis. and imaginative book we have all been waiting for. NYRB Holiday Sale Yet despite the fact that Crowds and Power has been advertised as the thinking man's guide to reality. profound. Wedgewood. Kathleen Raine. it is very difficult to say just what the book is about." and power. which is created by the fact that the needs of the ." or its author as the Spengler of the sixties. psychology. which is just a more complicated form of what he calls the "crowd. and certified to be the original.V. that one is actually put on one's guard instead of being impressed." "a Twentieth Century Leviathan. or how long they had to wait for serious opinion to build up.
however. he has written a poem. far too long. at most it is an insight. And the value of such an insight depends on how it is argued and developed. cluttered up with home-made jargon. or that "in revolutionary periods executions are accelerated". we have the ruled and the rulers. as when Canetti says that in an inflation the "unit of money loses its identity. Its method is to convert truisms into metaphors. the idea itself is a bad metaphor: the most picturesque example is Canetti's description of spermatozoa as a crowd." or that war consists of one crowd fighting another. such as that "a soldier on duty acts only in accordance with commands. what he does instead is to spin a web of illustrations. to state a fact as though it were a discovery. according to Canneti. this is not a very startling idea or image. Frequently."crowd" coincide with those of its rulers. and not a new one at that. an ordinary observation is . Sometimes the metaphor is purely verbal." Here we have just the opposite of what goes on in a good poem: instead of an original and concrete association that puts things in a new light or makes for a new experience. Thus. and analogies. associations. In this sense. and then to give these inflated facts all kinds of historical resonance. is that it is a bad poem. Now. The trouble. since most studies of modern society have dealt in one way or another with the manipulation of the masses by leaders and rulers. with one survivor. and much too pretentious. But Canetti does not really develop the idea.
The scheme of the book is quite simple. double crowds." Since "increase" is a characteristic of crowds. And unlike good poetry which loses in paraphrase. etc. Canetti begins by cataloguing the various kinds of crowds and their attributes. inflation. I think. and socialism in terms of "crowd symbols. production becomes just another instance. Finally. flight crowds. prohibition crowds. for Canetti talks about both capitalism and socialism as societies obsessed with the idea of production as though production were a disease. capitalism." and "needs a direction. . Then Canetti brings the idea of the crowd up to date by explaining such recent phenomena as the rise of Hitler." Then we discover that there are: baiting crowds. and made to sound more suggestive." And all crowds are either "rhythmic" or "stagnating.given "poetic" overtones. is the most absurd part of the book. the parliamentary system. In Canetti's system. which is a more primitive form of the crowd." "loves density." is based of "equality. for goods and consumers each make up a crowd. reversal crowds. production is nothing but "the modern frenzy of increase. feast crowds. (No lonely crowds!) Next. some of Canetti's inspired rhetoric might easily gain by a paraphrase. a double one. panic crowds. of the crowd gone wild." Here. invisible crowds. Thus we learn that the crowd "wants to grow. Canetti goes back to tribal cultures to explore what he calls the pack.
" says Canetti." There are a few nice observations scattered through Crowds and Power. "not…because they are rulers. as when Canetti says that a fire sometimes unifies a theater more than the play can.Today either everyone will survive or no-one." "Rulers tremble today. because "the survivor is himself afraid. and this really says no more about history than logical analysis does about a person.Canetti goes into the question of power. Here Canetti warns us that we are in a new dangerous period. which he explains in a long and ingenious rumination on the psychological myths that surround the idea of the ruler in all civilizations. but as the equals of everyone else…. The book closes with an impassioned epilogue which sounds like a hopped-up version of the current mood. whose "passion for survival" leads him to destroy all those who might survive him. What we end up with is a portrait of the despot as a paranoid. email icon Email to a friend Subscribe to The New York Review! Search the Review Advanced search Books = Gifts NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · . But most of the book reads like a psychoanalysis of history.
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Nabokov). free of the polemical or theoretical limitations that have been ascribed to Leavis or Richards and credited with the power. Pasternak. Waugh. Donne. Mario Praz. especially its post-Romantic and Symbolist tendencies. 1963 à la Mode By Richard Poirier Puzzles and Epiphanies by Frank Kermode Chilmark Press. Durrell. Golding. among others). Number 1 · February 1. $4. all of these . "to ascertain the masterspirit in the literature of an epoch.95 Frank Kermode is generally regarded as the best practicing critic in England today.Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. Joyce. Puzzles and Epiphanies is a collection of his reviews and essays written for English and American periodicals from 1958 to 1961. Forster. Henry Miller. Northrop Frye. a few poets (Valéry and Betjeman). The table of contents would by itself call attention to his versatility. Greene. listing twenty-four pieces on various critics (Edmund Wilson. which Arnold required of good criticism. a good many novelists (including Robert Musil. this would mean literature since 1890." In Kermode's case. though he has done creditable work on English pastoral poetry and on Milton. and Shakespeare.
"Poet and Dancer Before Diaghilev. is to find that they are frequently repetitious of one another. published in 1957. often densely written. I suspect. dancers. there is there is the sort of repetition almost unavoidable in a book composed of items not originally intended to be seen together.crammed with allusions to other writers. These rather trivial annoyances are in this instance a symptom of serious limitations in Kermode's criticism of which he has himself become aware. and critics associated in some way with what Kermode considers the main lines of force in modern literature. Usually. his self-assured erudition. and the work continued from that book in the brilliant opening essay of this volume. his capacity to apply himself nearly anywhere in English or continental literature. all that can intelligently be said of such matters is that there should have been more vigorous rewriting or editing." Kermode . and indicative less of suppleness than of an obstinacy in the kind of interest which the author brings to the great variety of subjects to which he addresses himself. however. Anyone who read these essays and reviews as they appeared could not fail to be impressed with Kermode's energy. though here the editing is of a sloppiness nearly delinquent. To read the same pieces in this collected form. Out of Romantic Image. in looking through this collection. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement To begin with.
a sort of gridiron through which he then looks at too many of the books he has since reviewed. form and matter. and on the attendant myth that it is in the power of art momentarily to mend these breaks. I cannot take issue here with Kermode's account of the dependence of modern literature on mythologies of artistic creation. and the support given these enterprises and assumptions by the philosophies of symbolic form articulated out of Kant and Herder by Cassirer and Suzanne Langer—these are among the components that have gone into the literary culture of our time as Kermode sees it. quite unwittingly. the emphasis in modern criticism on the impersonality of the poet and on the poem as an autonomous structure. What I can say about the collection under review is that the kinds of inquiry often called for by the books and writers represented in it . What Kermode claims repeatedly is that the literature of this century and much of the criticism has been based on a myth of dissociation between mind and body. mythical. art has been made on the assumption that it could constitute a second nature. so his account runs. In the process. I would guess.has made. imagistic. dependent for its meaning on nothing outside itself. The fascination of Valéry and Yeats with the primitive aspects of non-verbal art such as the dance. the accompanying notion that art is an essentially atavistic activity.
to which they have directed the activities of modern writers. we are told. or for his extravagant praise of such a modish contrivance as Golding's Lord of the Flies which." The accounts by which Doctor Zhivago becomes a kind of Symbolist novel. The deficiency is obvious first of all in the relaxation of Kermode's critical attention when he is discussing novelists who share his view of literary culture. as he sees it. is in part about the division of "our world into two cultures—the followers of Jack and the admirers of Simon.are sometimes badly served by his obsession with these mythologies and with the degree. Kermode deserves praise as a historian of ideas more than as a critic. His reputed freedom from critical dogma is an . however timidly (he is "a great deal easier and more pleasant to read" than Beckett). and that turn a discussion of Henry Miller into a summary of Kermode's theory of how the occult has become a literary alternative to science are typical of the degree to which many of these reviews are less in the service of the books they are supposed to elucidate than of doctrines that are for the most part only tangentially relevant to them. that give both The Heart of the Matter and the over-praised Justine attributes of Huysmans. those who build the fortresses and those who want to name the beast. There can otherwise be little reason for his admiring the novels of Sir Charles Snow.
of Leonard Woolf's Sowing) are examples. one of the best things in the book. and so is his rare combination of gossipy relish and diagnostic power in telling the story of the dancer Loie Fuller. He is most effective when dealing with works that are committed on the surface to an interest like his own in the history of modern aesthetics and its relation to contemporary culture: "Second Nature" on (Valéry) and "Sillies" (a review of the Cambridge of G. and his deeply admiring account of Wilson's Axel's Castle. if you think it one. but might as easily be taken as a reflection of his more absorbing interest in the ideological contexts in which he places the books he reads.E. His analysis of Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism is impressive enough to bring some pause. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search . a kind of placement to which novels have always been especially resistant. one hopes. he is also. to an increasing and unfortunate academic vogue. of course.achievement. Moore and. Being at home with artists more theoretically conscious of what they are doing than are most novelists. especially strong in his reviews of other critics. is a tribute to a literary historian of an older generation in terms at once respectful and potentially self-descriptive. incidentally.
All rights reserved. NYREV. .com with any questions about this site. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Inc. 2009.HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Little Bookroom / Pudlo France Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. Please contact web@nybooks.
Furthermore. that the publishers chose to illustrate their edition with engravings by Piranesi who. Piranesi's engravings. on the other hand. in the margins of each page adjacent to the textual passages which they are meant to amplify. as they should. approaches Roman antiquity in a somewhat more valetudinarian spirit than Gibbon would have liked. $22.50 The Heritage Press has reissued in three volumes its indispensable edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. 1963 New Editions By Jason Epstein The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. though he was Gibbon's contemporary. The Heritage Press edition is to be commended for its handsome and clear typography and design in which Gibbon's notes appear. Number 1 · February 1. It is unfortunate. Bury The Heritage Press.B. edited by J. available only sporadically on the secondhand market at about fifty dollars. This edition had long been out of print. which show the antiquities as they appeared in the . with an introduction by the late Professor Bury and with his version of the text.
medals. Nevertheless. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement It is also to be regretted that the publishers did not take this opportunity to replace Philip Guedalla's introduction. with the result that the reproductions are not at all representative of the originals. that in future printings the publishers will replace the present end-paper maps. half-buried and often in ruins. which are very sparse. the new edition. are. This new printing might also have been the occasion to give Professor Bury's admirable text. with maps that . the publishers have chosen to print the engravings in a brown tone rather than in Piranesi's own black. which is too flimsy for volumes this large—is the best we have and perhaps the best we shall have for some time to come. surrounded by contemporary buildings and out of scale. It is to be hoped. to a modern scholar for further emendation. Finally. for all their brilliance. and trophies to which Gibbon continually refers and on which his argument so greatly depends. hardly as illuminating as reconstructions of the original states of these monuments would have been and still less illuminating than reproductions of the coins. with something more apposite and scholarly.eighteenth century. however. which was no good to begin with and is now hopelessly out of date. which is now many years old. whatever its faults—and these include the binding.
are more informative. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. NYREV. The New York Review of Books . Please contact web@nybooks. All rights reserved.com with any questions about this site. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Inc. 2009.
1963 Death in Jerusalem By Stephen Spender Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt Viking Press.Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. no member of the human race. He is. In her own summing up. rather.50 Hannah Arendt's book is a brilliant and disturbing study of the character and the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann. As the moral argument for Eichmann's execution. that is. Number 2 · June 1. himself. This is the reason. and the only reason. who had certain gifts as an organizer. conditioned to follow orders. Miss Arendt distinguishes between the responsibility of an agent and the passivity of a mere cog. can be expected to want you to share the earth with them. an agent. Hannah Arendt writes in her conclusion: Just as you carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one. . $5. scareely seems to be one of the major figures in the Germany that killed six million Jews.
It studies also the situation in the various countries outside Germany which made it in some places more difficult. NYR Holiday Subscription Special To many of us it may seem that Miss Arendt's greatest achievement is not just to explain the character of Eichmann within the setting of a monstrous. but to translate the guilt into the conscious and immediate language of responsibility. to liquidate non-German Jews. in other less difficult. Our guilt for the evil of the world oppresses and hypnotizes us. guilt-laden history. all other nations. But Hannah Arendt stresses in her subtitle that this book is her "report on the banality of evil. (This final statement is perhaps the only instance in which one is not entirely convinced of the rightness of the author's touch.you must hang. nevertheless banality is the atmosphere in which our ." The feeling that we all must in some mysterious way share the guilt of the Nazis is a sentimentality she deplores. potentially.) Eichmann in Jerusalem sums up for us the immensely complex organization of those branches of the Nazi Party which were concerned with the "Final Solution" of the Jewish question. it gives a deep understanding of what was historically unprecedented in the Nazi adoption of genocide as a national policy toward the Jews and toward.
but for all of us should be clear. colleagues but even to his Jewish victims. with its corruption of language. who in the post-war Austrian and German Republics had become meaningless ciphers. His opinions—even at Jerusalem he held a good many." as distinct from a "final. most of them self-contradictory—did not come out of his personality but out of a kind of nonpersonality. or lowered. He nurtured the fantasy of obtaining. He boasted of these things not only to his S. that he still remain essentially a cipher. led to the program of mass-killing. a way of drawing attention to the fact that he had read Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstaat and learned a little Hebrew. Responsibility would have consisted of a day-to-day effort to keep one's mind free of that banality.S. through emigration or some "political.civilization breathes. Given the political situation. and to whom the Nazis offered a life of rhetorical meaning. from the acceptance of those abstractions which first produced the mind and then the action of an Eichmann. what he called "firm ground" to put under the ." solution. though. not only for Germany. on condition. The meaning of this. Thus until Hitler decided on the "Final Solution" Eichmann called himself a Zionist. Eichmann was naturally a type upon and through whom the Nazis could work: one of the low. the surrounding banality. He wore them like badges which provided him with occasions for boasting.
He entered with his "Zionist" enthusiasm into Heydrich's scheme for forming a "center of emigration" within the area of the Polish swamps under the aegis of Frank's "General Government." Eichmann experienced the emptiness which resulted from having badges of self-esteem stripped off him. But Eichmann also worked out an organizational plan for transporting millions of Jews in the middle of the war (across waters patrolled by the British fleet) to Madagascar. If you build. When in the summer of 1941 Heydrich told Eichmann that "the Führer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews. the wells all around carry disease. There is no water. so his organizational gifts could operate. as it were.feet of the Jews.S. in a vacuum. dysentery and typhoid. If you bore and find water. Soon afterwards he even gave way to a human feeling and "for the first and last time" acted against orders and had a transport of Jews diverted from Russia (where they would most certainly have been shot) to Lodz where . you will have water. officer's description of this "Jewish home": There are no dwellings. there will be a roof over your heads." Miss Arendt cites an S. there are no houses.) Just as his "Zionism" and "correct behavior" were superimposed on a void of personality. there is cholera. (He seems to have confused Madagascar with Uganda.
so smooth were their limbs. The truck was making for an open ditch. He was further depressed when he visited the headquarters of Odilo Globocnik (one of the most enthusiastic interpreters of the Final Solution) at Lublin." He saw too a fountain of blood gushing out of the ground beneath which there was a mass grave. and it was anticipated that some of those attending might make difficulties. Miss Arendt traces the extinction of his conscience to the Conference of the Undersecretaries of State held at Wannsee in January 1942. the doors were opened and the corpses were thrown out. Yet loyalty to that negation at the center of all the other negations which made up the diabolism of the Third Reich—the Führer's will —soon converted Eichmann's feeling of emptiness into elation. At Lwów he saw Jews being pushed into the vans where they were gassed. "the most horrible sight I had thus far seen in my life. This was one of the few occasions on which he witnessed the real actions which the abstract "language rules" of his organization were describing. But in fact the Final Solution was greeted with . This meeting was held precisely for the purpose of discussing means to carry out the Final Solution. as though they were still alive.no arrangements for their extermination had yet been completed. He turned his virtuosity to the organization of the Final Solution.
feeling themselves the more human because of the abstractions which cover their inhuman operations. social units. It enormously added to Eichmann's self-esteem when. and with Heydrich. their unbending joviality when they meet together as high-ups. as disposable. setting forth the program for killing 11 million Jews. and the Final Solution therefore offers the supreme example of the statistical approach to the human community. because later in the day Eichmann was permitted to "sit down near the fireplace" with his chief. perverted social aims which see people not as individuals but as the object of statistical calculations. It had been his privilege to prepare the statistical material for Heydrich's introductory speech." he mingled socially with the "high personages" of the Nazi regime. Miss Arendt's underlying theme is the corruption of individual or personal values by grandiose. And Heydrich seemed grateful. . Müller.. even interchangeable. the different ways of killing Jews). The Nazis were of course diabolists. What we see at the Wannsee Conference is the cordiality of officials as they undertake their unspeakably gruesome tasks.e. after the discussion of the "various types of possible solutions to the problem (i. "the popes of the Third Reich" as he called them."extraordinary enthusiasm" by all those present. in the cordial atmosphere of a luncheon followed by drinks.
was there to help them. expelling the Jews from Austria)." The most deeply distressing pages in this book —pages which will doubtless give rise to the most bitter recriminations—are those in which Miss Arendt discusses the cooperation of the Jewish Councils and of certain Zionist leaders or representatives with the Nazis. "he and his men and the Jews were all 'pulling together'…. Eichmann. their opponents and even their victims by their dehumanizing methods of thought and action. the interests of the officials representing Nazis and Jews could appear to merge and become at some points the same. Within the context of war and of Nazi corruption. because it so happened that at the same time the Nazi authorities had expressed the desire to see their Reich judenrein.But Miss Arendt means to warn us that this abstract way of dealing with people upon bases of statistics. The Nazis corrupted not only their own followers but also. The one part of Eichmann's story which he never abandoned in the trial was that in Vienna in 1938 when he had been in charge of "forced emigration" (i.e. runs into the danger of converting good into evil just because people are looked upon as abstractions and disposed of as such." So the Jewish leaders would meet Eichmann in a cordial atmosphere . In this lies the "banality of evil. even when attached to less bad or even theoretically good aims. to a great extent. The Jews 'desired' to emigrate and he.
" And from this follows Miss Arendt's appalling conclusion: The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless. "bad" ones who could be disregarded. The promised land becomes the common grave. The procedure agreed on between the Nazis and the Jewish Councils gave the Nazis lists of the names of all Jews in a particular community. and seemed in his behavior "perfectly correct") to arrange. with the Nazis. and this leadership. . This was the result of abstract calculations like those of Dr. thus making it far easier for them to fill the trains which went to the concentration camps and the gas chambers. for the emigration of the "best Jews" to Palestine.684 people.000 victims he had saved 1. almost without exception. who could claim that out of 476. there were recognized Jewish leaders. The aims of the Jews and the Nazis coincided at a time when both sides could agree that there were "good Jews" who qualified for salvation. there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between fourand-a-half and six million people.(he even shook hands with them. for one reason or another. cooperated in one way or another. Hence the situation arose that "wherever Jews lived. sometimes. Kastner in Hungary.
that in places where the Jewish leaders did not cooperate with the Nazi representatives and refused to provide them with the necessary information. Moreover. We get. far fewer Jews were apprehended and subsequently murdered. finally. euphemisms. making . of compromises. handshakes in hotel rooms and restaurants. as Bruno Bettelheim points out in The Informed Heart.The joining of one aim with another. and at whose center were the actual victims. cooperation to the extermination of thousands of prisoners in order to save some of their own group. behaving with a compliance which was also the result of the surrounding complicity. the identification of the aims of persecutor and persecuted was even reflected by some of the victims themselves in the camps: It came about that some of the political groups formed to protect fellow prisoners ended up giving full. if heavy-hearted. abstractions. Thus in Belgium it was extremely difficult to collect the Jews partly because their leaders had fled. however. Miss Arendt points out. whose outermost circumference was violent death produced by war.S. was the outer ring of concentric circles of conditioning. the spectacle of thousands of Jews digging their own graves and submitting without protest to being shot by mere hundreds of the S.
with the methods of a less primitive bureaucracy. She points out that there is now a historic precedent for genocide. of course. and very alarming for the future. deviousness does not necessarily pay. even Stalin was caught in the trap of his own devious dealings with Hitler. Even some of the German forces occupying Denmark sabotaged orders from Berlin to seize Jews. as Churchill points out in his history of the War. in Denmark. with subtler euphemisms. covering it over. But in neighboring Holland. The picture Hannah Arendt paints is extremely depressing with respect to the past. in favor of naive. the Danes shipped them in the Danish fishing fleet to neutral Sweden. then. . he would be the first to wear one. where there was a Jewish police collaborating with the Nazis. The King of Denmark declared that if the Danish Jews were compelled to wear badges. After all. it is only too possible that excuses will be found to follow the Nazi precedent. officialese and new language rules." Again.it impossible to form a Belgian Jewish Council. straightforward and unquestioning refusal to deal with totalitarians. and given the conditions likely soon to confront governments as the result of the population explosion. and when the Nazis attempted to seize the Jews. There is evidence. the result was a "catastrophe unparalleled in any Western country. the Danes refused to take action against the Jews.
After the First World War. I think that a good deal of what Miss Arendt writes about the corruption of the language applies to the German situation before Hitler. In the same way there were political Christians ready to see behind . Thus in the early years of Hitler's regime. at the time of the inflation. Political parties. Having lived in Berlin in the late twenties and early thirties. and could readily be taken over by its opponents and applied to opposite kinds of action. welcomed the regime as a socialist phenomenon appearing. and the corruption of the German language by the Nazis. abstract clichés of political language which were taught by one party were reversible. of the left even more than the right. endeavored to politicize people at the earliest possible age.Hannah Arendt shows the deep connection between the actions of an Eichmann who could think only in officialese. it is true. a whole generation of young Germans was brought up to think in political slogans. in a rather unexpected form. if momentarily." many young socialists (including even some English ones who had learned the German ideological language) suddenly. It was extremely noticeable that with the young. Many of the young grew up to think of murdering their opponents as the necessary if not noble means whereby an abstract "correct" course of history could win out over the "wrong" historic forces. when unemployment was "cured. and whose idea of virtue was loyalty to the clichés of Hitler.
Sadder than this. who wished to correct what he thought must be a slip of the tongue. more than this. the West German lawyer defending Eichmann. a heavy suspicion also hangs over the Jerusalem court itself in these pages— the suspicion that the prosecuting counsel— and ultimately Ben Gurion—was not trying Eichmann for what he did (which would have been enough to hang him) but for the Nazi that he was. too. killings by gas. Servatius declared the "accused innocent of charges bearing on his responsibility for the collection of skeletons. yet when one considers the effects of precedents from this trial and the Nuremberg ." Interrupted by Judge Halevi. and. There are ample emotional excuses or justifications for this.Stalin's moustaches the bearded figure of Christ. Nor does Miss Arendt's critique of banal habits of thinking as a device camouflaging evil apply only retrospectively. She discerns the survival of "language rules" in the speech of Dr. and similar medical matters. is a medical matter. It would be useless to deny that the whole Eichmann case was prejudged. it was a matter of killing and killing. Servatius. Dr. Servatius replied. sterilizations. "It was indeed a medical matter." And this is a voice from West Germany in the 1960s. since it was prepared by physicians. for the crimes of the whole Nazi regime against the Jews.
Eichmann's mind was ruined by miseducation before it was distorted by politics. should not one expect that in a civilized country Eichmann's clichés. these considerations lead beyond the kinds of responsibility which are likely to concern a reader of this article. one feels apprehensive. his "language rules.trials on possible future views of international law. There are much more immediate responsibilities for intellectuals." his evasions and euphemisms would have made him ludicrous to an educated public? Perhaps the greatest delusion of the Germans about themselves is that they are a cultivated. educated people. However. who is today resisting? email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search Little Bookroom / Budapest HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · . writers and educators which surely could be fulfilled. But then. when it comes to resisting the "language rules" used by politicians (the existence of the H-bomb has created a whole new vocabulary of evasions). And even supposing that a man like Eichmann can get into a powerful position.
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the past didn't know about itself. which. neither offers the audience a ready way up and out of time into eternity— that for which seers have a crying need. But . win respect for critiques of contemporary dogma that would seem outrageous if delivered in contemporary terms. 1963 America Absolved By Benjamin DeMott Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter Knopf. social or political.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. Number 2 · June 1. $6. or didn't wish to know. For lesser men. and dream of escape. the matter is complicated. though. as the historian Marc Bloch says. Aware of history as an oppressive dead hand on experience. Neither accomplishment enables the inquirer to get the full weight of the monkeypast off his back. they think of it also as a contrivance." and they tend to be optimistic about the doings. They also can learn forgotten languages. that which historians make or "do. Shrewd inquirers can find things out about the past that.95 For saints and seers History is all one: they call it terror (Eliade) or nightmare (Joyce) or inertia (Nietzsche). used with appropriate gingerliness as a means of interpreting the present.
promises little to people who read professional tomes for the pleasure of encountering (or imagining) appurtenances of the lost world of leisure— library loafers. some provincial readers who turn them will call to mind the stereotype of the Columbia prof as the proprietor of a madly expanding one-man insurance brokerage—a hustler nailing the big premium every time he hits the street. establishing that the humble act of being sound about any subject demands hard work (the point can never be well-enough established). keeping facts in sight. As should at once be admitted.both provide people with release in the form of a glimpse of Now from the outside. harming nobody. NYRB / Chrysalids Holiday And at first glance the treatise at hand appears to deserve no higher praise than this. essence of textbook-TVtimestudy academia. pretty calligraphy and the like. And in a faithless age the need for this release is so great that whatever satisfies it deserves regard as a kind of poor man's Grace. quoting . commonplaces like these are irrelevant to ordinary works of American history. A whiff of grimy worldliness. Most studies of our past are written by men who are simply passing respectably through the professional day. rises from its pages. claret lunches. The tenth book of a forty-six-year-old scholar. fireside teas. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.
and a page or two later he acknowledges the help not only of the four assistants but of thirtythree friends. "in . like a young mouser mewing pridefully at the back door. a furry little ball of dead adjectival tribute ("Marcus Cunliffe. And throughout he abides by the noxious footnote rules which require an academic author to drop off at the bottom of every page. Facing the world…alone seems to be the characteristic creative stance"). Toward the close of his book he delivers himself on the natural isolation of the intellectual ("The truly creative mind is hardly ever so alone as when it is trying to be sociable…. shooting back to the shop to break in a fleet of new clerks and stenographers (the staff Dean Barzun said every professor should have) and all the while flogging himself with the dream of getting out early tonight to Bellmore to spend half an hour with the kids.rates in phone booths while nibbling a desperate Nab. Hiram College. overseas) wheeled and dealed successfully with the foundations (the Carnegie Corporation and the Fund for the Advancement of Education were among his supporters) and finished six other books. The author announces that he worked on and off at this large volume for ten years. Princeton—and Cambridge. Smith College." a Miss Gruber among them. in that period he delivered lectures in series at a splendid variety of other institutions (the universities of Michigan and Southern California. His thanks go forth to no fewer than four "research assistants.
his penetrating study"…"Merle Curti. No one before Professor Hofstadter had thought to write a history of American attitudes toward mind.). see Morton White…" "For a spirited defense and appreciation…see Samuel Eliot Morison…" "For a stimulating exploration…see R. Smith…" "For an interesting exercise in definition. Lewis…" etc. and in education (special attention to Dewey and the gospel of life adjustment). The heroes. and avoiding such pitfall topics as "highbrow anti-rationalism." "For an excellent statement about the numbers…see Timothy L. in his suggestive little volume…." But few specialists in any period of the American past have left these attitudes wholly out of account —which is to say that the "field" of antiintellectualism is not one from which news for professional Americanists can easily be reaped. in politics (from the decline of the Federalist elite through Godkin and the Civil Service reformers to the rise of the expert).W. tracing general cycles of hatred. Professor Hofstadter treats patterns of intellectualism and anti-intellectualism in religion (from the Puritan clergy through the Awakeners and Evangelicals to the evolution controversy). in business ("the vanguard of antiintellectualism in our culture"). . love and apathy from the 17th century to the present. Nor is it merely superficies and trivia of production and composition that raise doubts about the book's essential value.B.
Link's The Return to Religion. 162. Henry C. Henry Adams in Washington. 93-4. presumably while reading Daniel Aaron's Writers on the Left . He pieces out this "insight" for seven anecdotal paragraphs in which every quotation and incident. 425. 417. 337-8 346.") And impatience. (Professor Hofstadter was startled. is taken "from [Aaron]. LaFollette. Adlai Stevenson—have been heard of before. 254. 210-212. the Scopes Trial. 65. The evidence marshalled in support of his perceptions often amounts only to a long paraphrase of one or another recent. 209. 132n. 41. seems least well controlled precisely when he approaches the subjects—the psychology of the elitist withdrawal in the 1820s for one—that he is best placed to probe. 227. 308. a force that occasionally pushes him toward melodrama and away from analysis. pp. T. Vanderbilt." Robert M. as "fighting intellectual. 240-2. as the footnote brightly reports. by the continuity between traditional business attitudes toward mind and those appearing in leftist discourse of the 1920s and 1930s. 216. 410. readily available study.episodes and books that figure in his most entertaining pages—Davy Crockett. 409. That in spite of these failings AntiIntellectualism in American Life does succeed in recovering a forgotten language is owing . 25. 168. 163-4. George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany. the Brain Trust. Billy Sunday. Carnegie.R.
which explain with . a broadly diffused quality in our civilization. The neglected truth reclaimed. the book rises to the level of a major project of reclamation. and at those moments when the author puts them to effective use. namely that one man's anti-intellectualism is another man's democratic aspiration. "but such is not the case here. causes. ordinary folk will perceive the fatuity of some modern assumptions about "the situation of the intellectual" without being released from their weight. of course: the writer's fondness for qualification and distaste for moralizing fervor prevent the neglected truth which he brings back into view from becoming the center of a passionate argument. his readiness to present the brain-baiting of the past in its full socio-political context." says Professor Hofstadter at the outset. Alienated waifs and moony hipsters on the one hand. or at least defensible. as I believe it has. Establishment apologists on the other. as these remarks imply materials for a powerful critique of contemporary cant lie ready at hand for the reader of Anti-Intellectualism. it has become so because it has often been linked to good. "To be confronted with a simple and unqualified evil is no doubt a kind of luxury." The position has shortcomings. will be piqued—but not shaken—by his words. is well-represented in the opening chapters.largely to the author's ease with complexity. and if anti-intellectualism has become. Yet.
I do not say eliminated altogether. But the force of the truth in question stems less from the flat statements of the author than from the language of the past that he quotes. our anti-intellectualism must be excised from the benevolent impulses upon which it lives by constant and delicate acts of intellectual surgery which spare these impulses themselves. In the elite voices. It made its way into our politics because it became associated with our passion for equality. for I believe not only that this is beyond our powers but also that an unbridled passion for the total elimination of this or that evil can be as dangerous as any of the delusions of our time. Only in this way can antiintellectualism be checked and contained. It has become formidable in our education partly because our educational beliefs are evangelically egalitarian. some by the unwashed— which puts the reader in fresh touch with the complicated. Hence.admirable clarity why simplicity needs to be laid by: [Anti-intellectualism] first got its strong grip on our ways of thinking because it was fostered by an evangelical religion that also purveyed many humane and democratic sentiments. as far as possible. For it is this language—some of it spoken by the elite. dignity is sometimes the . feelings for which the historian offers his defense. even dignified.
" The voices of the unwashed. in contrast. a crude man. as Greeley implies. and rather subtract from his own special share of them. Mass.) And sometimes it is a product of the habit of responsibility. antiEstablishment pamphlet called The Key of Libberty appeared in 1798 was." The point of the man's attack . favorable to the ploughman. can be respected because they are rooted. and are moved by commendable aspiration for their sons. in a real world—one in which men who cry out against Establishment selfishness are responding to fact not fantasy.concomitant of a kind of humane pastoral generosity. is made in terms altogether free of the vices of self-hatred or sentimentality that now unman some men of mind. (The contrast. not by ressentiment. as when Jefferson contrasts the moral sense of the ploughman with that of the professor. unworried about "the consequence of his policy for high culture"—but he was no enthusiast of ignorance. farmer whose anti-intellectual. The North Billerica. as Professor Hofstadter admits. as when Greeley remarks that the reason the American yeoman wavers in his natural respect for talent and learning is that talent and learning are too often "directed to the acquisition of wealth and luxury by means which add little to the aggregate of human comforts. His paper opened with the assertion that "Learning & Knowledge is essential to the preservation of Libberty & unless we have more of it amongue us we Cannot Seporte our Libertyes Long.
So Much. judges and "all letirary men & the over grown rich" is that their single concern is to elevate the status of the professions: …the few are always crying up the advantages of costly collages." He takes the same view of the NEA and the gospel of life adjustment." As already indicated. the ondly or prinsaple means by which larning is spred amongue the Many….on physicians. & they can't go under. reviewing this charge in the light of conditions of the age—"a time when the vaunted common school system of Massachusetts was being neglected"—is obliged to assert that "there was a certain rough justice in [it that] cannot be denied. in order to make places for men to live without work and so strengthen their party. For if we apply for a Preacher or a School Master. for it is agreed upon & they shall be disgrased if they take less. And the historian. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life has other ends in view besides the pursuit of "rough justice" on this model. national acadimyes and gramer schooles. But are always opposed to cheep schooles & woman schooles. and . of Charles Grandison Finney and "Presbygational" evangelism. we are told the price. Professor Hofstadter's decision about the North Billerica farmer is that his position was ultimately damaging to "intellectual culture. ministers.
that his book arrives repeatedly at hitherto inexpressible truths. the unredeemable. flatly. He succeeds in defining psycho-political implications of the contemporary intellectual's fascination with mass culture—estrangement from democratic faith among them. the unrealized are never. the unwashed are also the unadvantaged. which often creeps into discussions of mass culture may be explained in some part by an underlying sense of grievance against a populace that has not lived up to expectations." says Professor Hofstadter.") And addressing himself to deeper convictions of the same men." And it is largely because." At no point does he become an apologist for sunny mindlessness. he is able to name the precise shift of assumption that in recent days has driven intellectuals on toward . hence was "not a graduate of God's Great University.(at a lower level) of Cotton Ed Smith. "It is rare for an American intellectual. But at every moment he is conscious that in a democratic society effort to apply fixed labels to men in the name of mind or of taste is unrealistic: whom the elite call vulgar are also to be called brother. ("The…note of inhumanity. he himself rarely shies from such confrontations. who told the Senate that Rex Tugwell was unqualified to be Undersecretary of Agriculture because he had never been a dirt farmer. "to confront candidly the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations. in conducting his historical inquiries.
which is good.extravagance and cant: The prophets of alienation who speak for the left no doubt aim to create a basis for some kind of responsible politics of protest. as a necessary consequence of the pursuit of truth or of some artistic vision. The point here is that alienation in the intellectual is not simply accepted. and intellectual responsibility. in olden times scholars and . The very orthography of the key texts cited suggests that intense democratic aspiration. yes. the talk is of nostalgia for "earlier certainties that made resistance easy." of the primary need of the intellectual to discharge aggression. of the dangers of becoming a "prostitute" or a "traitor" to the fundamental obligations of the intellectual's role. of the alleged antithesis between social responsibility. which is bad. Regrettably. belong to the past. and then one hears how much better it is to have "blind unreasoning rejection" rather than to make moral compromises. those likely to be hostile to Professor Hofstadter's account of the cult of alienation are offered a weapon by the range of his book's backward glance. but that a negative stance or posture toward society is prescribed as the only stance productive of artistic creativity or social insight or moral probity. but when the situation of the intellectual is under consideration their tone becomes strident. perfervid labor toward self-realization. Yes.
The voice of privilege and command of those days spoke often in a tone controlled .artists and professionals were abused in large part because they seemed determined to prevent others from rising to their rank.) Still there is some point in recalling that only a few years before these furies occurred Americans had undergone an experience of hierarchical vigor which may well have been for millions stunning in its effect. that the anti-Establishment furies of the late forties and mid-fifties are themselves as complex in origin as any released in the 19th century. say. But what of the last two decades? Why does the learned professor not deal directly with HissChambers or with the McCarthy years? If he had focussed on these episodes would he have found it possible to establish a relation between anti-intellectualism and "humane and democratic sentiments?" Would he still have believed in the appropriateness (in a mass society) of talk about excising antiintellectualism from benevolent impulses "by delicate acts of intellectual surgery"? Isn't it a fact that the professor makes his case by avoiding the grittiest episodes in memory— outbursts that did incomparably more damage to "intellectual culture" than any he cites? The questions are not trivial. (The critique of contemporary dogma does indeed seem outrageous when delivered in contemporary terms. and a journalistic notice is hardly the place to engage them—by arguing.
and nobody could have loved it.more by sniffishness than by manly love of the flag. you will sir. Had the Harvard lieutenants and Bowdoin ensigns tipped a universal wink. And how content were these lecturers. enter our clubs. or by the sense of necessities of discipline. even apparent stupidity: for you are not a college man. salute. And conceivably the resentment and frustration thus amassed—anger at university smugness known at first hand— wasn't an insignificant part of the huge capital drawn on by mind-baiters in the Hiss and McCarthy years. but millions would have had a less exacerbating encounter with "trained minds. or snivel to youth.— You will not eat our food. Does it follow from this that the events of those years. incompetence." What was taught by the educated gentlemen whose land and beeves were leaves and bars wasn't manners alone but the very concept of establishmentarianism. exclusiveness itself. . the release of rage in persecution. wear our clothes. you will not speak until spoken to. how extraordinarily untormented in their separateness! How remarkably comfortable (for them) the transition from the rhetoric of equality to the rhetoric of superiors and inferiors! In the glance of brass-browed military man there was that which probably chilled countless dreams of mobility and selfrealization. "military courtesy" would have disappeared and doubtless military discipline as well.
the lucky ones. they are not so over-powering as to cancel the relevant possibility—namely that any moment in American life at which men of ordinary intelligence and powerful desire believe themselves to be blocked off.recreated democratic faith in America? Perhaps a few who read these words could believe that one man's experience might lead him to contain his scorn of such a conclusion. meant something: they could be turned on. they did not own the world…. The reviewer. There were schoolboys going off to work in the middle and late thirties. father and vet in his mid-twenties then. mindless envy. And while there are limits to the personal reference. BOYS BOYS BOYS in the back page agency ads of the Herald Trib—that was the staple too of the soldier's life. a reporter. To think of . And there are a few who have acknowledged that the great upheaval of 1947. husband. antiintellectualism is likely to become impure: a mode for the release of decent aspiration as well as of vicious. he remembers to his shame (the latter a belated achievement) that the episode encouraged him in his "decision" to turn student. no hope for the ambitious. the tearing down of the Ivy by the grocer's boy from Whittier. found satisfaction for his ignorance in the baying of that elite. while others were enthroned as fresh-men. and sustained themselves on a smelly broth of feeling—selfpity. who learned to envy the rich and the lucky.
the whiskey in the rest area. that could only trim and whine and hide. To repeat: the reassertion of connections between mind-baiting and democratic aspiration creates no ground for selfcongratulation. And both tricks cheat. the ham and jam breakfasts. everything forgiven) is. paying out to members only the soft jobs. best people: there the challenge would be despised. politicians. It is true that the great American trick of yesteryear was that of being oblivious to the defects of virtues—but presently the trick is that of being oblivious to the virtues of defects. to be sure. to become a victim of history on the model Nietzsche described. no wholly satisfactory . might be neither a hopeless error nor an invitation to complacency. Never in England. can actually be shamed for lighting each other's candles. was at least a human villainy—evidence that in America men charged as figures of privilege are incapable of retaining their equipoise. say some. the coffee and buns at Battalion. the solid cots. the easy chairs. And that shame is a potency as well as a disaster. But the weakness here that could not despise.that discovery as absolution (everything understood. But to think of it as a further snippet telling on Professor Hofstadter's "side." supporting arguments for a complicated understanding of antiintellectualism. could a McCarthy terrorize academies.
vocabulary of grace. The writer who takes up the task of reviewing the links cannot think of himself as engaged in producing a work that the community of knowledge will welcome as a necessary book. And it is possible—despite truisms about the uses of history—that the author of Anti-Intellectualism in American Life would have contributed more had he dared to face the chaos in memory. The result of his labor, though, is far from another piece of production-line Americana: courageously sane at its best, the book demands praise as a work which not only serves truth and the nation simultaneously, but erects a new barrier against despair. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search NYR Holiday Subscription Special HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008, NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. Please contact email@example.com with any questions about this site. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15, 2009.
The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1, Number 2 · June 1, 1963 Buechner By Robert Brustein Complete Plays and Prose by Georg Buechner, translated with an introduction by Carl Richard Mueller Hill and Wang, $1.75 Georg Buechner, the German dramatist, died in 1837, at the age of twenty-three, leaving behind him an inflammatory revolutionary manifesto, an unfinished prose narrative, two complete plays and a scramble of disconnected episodes in dialogue (undeciphered and unpublished until 1879) called Woyzeck. These facts are remarkable when we consider that Buechner is generally conceded to be one of the great seminal figures of dramatic literature: even in a century notable for untimely deaths and small leavings, his life seems terribly brief and his literary output extremely fragmentary. Still, the really astonishing thing about Buechner is neither the shortness of his career nor the meagerness of his production: it is the exceptionally modern quality of his temperament. Buechner admired Goethe; he adored Shakespeare; and he made a strong personal identification with that obsessed 18th-century dramatist, Jakob
Michael Reinhold Lenz, who became the feverish hero of Buechner's uncompleted novel. But although the impact of all three writers can be felt on his work, Buechner seems to develop independently of literary conditioning. Like William Blake, he is one of those extraordinary prodigies who occasionally bursts into the sky of history—unexpected, unforeseen—and proceeds to cast his illumination over future generations. Our own age, in fact, is so heavily indebted to Buechner that the temptation today is to treat him less like a unique artist than like a literary ancestor. In the introduction to his new edition of The Complete Plays and Prose, for example, Carl Richard Mueller discovers Buechner lurking behind every modern dramatic movement, and even calls Woyzeck "the great grandfather of Willy Loman"! From such great oaks do little acorns grow. Putting aside the question whether or not Buechner finds his apotheosis in Arthur Miller, we must admit Mr. Mueller's claim that there is a kinship between Buechner's plays and the plays of Naturalism, Expressionism, Existentialism and the Theater of the Absurd—that is, from a purely philosophical standpoint. For Buechner, trained as a medical scientist, clearly anticipated the revolt of the modern drama against the earlier, more flamboyant Romanticism. Always sympathetic to humbler forms of life, Buechner was annoyed by Schiller, whose strutting heroes struck him as
"nothing more than marionettes with sky-blue noses and affected pathos." But he was antagonistic to all the larger claims made on suffering mankind, and especially angry against German idealism, which his character Lenz calls "the most humiliating of insults to human nature." Once having scandalized a school chum with the pre-Nietszchean observation, "Christianity does not please me; it makes you pious, like a lamb," Buechner went on to find all theoretical structures and moral systems patently false, since they were abhorrent to Nature. And Nature remained Buechner's goddess, even as she came to seem an ugly, diseased old whore. NYR Holiday Subscription Special For Nature to Buechner was violent, accidental and ominous in the extreme—a jungle where man was caught in the underbrush to be torn apart by wild beasts. Thus, after a short spell as a radical social revolutionary, protesting against the greed and inhumanity of the German aristocracy, Buechner became convinced that all human action was futile, and that mankind was crushed "beneath the horrible fatalism of history." This conviction, as Mr. Mueller rightly observes, is thoroughly implanted in all Buechner's central characters; they are frozen into passive immobility, enmeshed in a web of internal and external forces. Danton, in that four-act death scene, Danton's Death, is devoured by Robespierre, rendered impotent by his sense of universal
chaos and human weakness: "What are we but puppets, manipulated on wires by unknown powers?" Prince Leonce, in that strange antiromance, Leonce and Lena, is consumed by a soul-destroying indolence, one of those "who are unhappy, and incurably so, simply because they exist." And Woyzeck is the archetypal victim, at the mercy of a cold, unfeeling world in which God is dead and man is slowly dying of a lingering disease. This, of course, is the famous metaphysical Angst, the feeling behind so much modern art; and though Buechner occasionally borrowed the robes of Hamlet and Lear, it was his prophetic destiny to express Existential discontent many years in advance of the contemporary fashion, during a period of radiant optimism and exuberant expectation. Still, if Buechner's art is international in its philosophical attitudes, it is peculiarly German in its style and tone. The contemporary French dramatist, for example, will usually make his nausea and despair an occasion for selfconscious theorizing, but Buechner is always at one with his suffering characters, and thereby invests them with febrile intensity and hallucinated visions. Only Dostoevsky, among non-German writers, strikes me as Buechner's companion spirit, because Buechner's characters are all afflicted with brain fever, and Lenz seems very much like an early sketch for Ivan Karamozov. On the other hand, Buechner has a great many followers among
German artists, both literary and non-literary. To a certain type of German mind which found the Olympian idealism of Thomas Mann as fake as that of Schiller, Buechner's ecstatic nihilism, his surreal images and his unremitting attacks on bourgeois morality were very congenial indeed. Buechner, in short, was the literary saint of the Weimar Republic; one can detect his influence on the satirical drawings of Georg Grosz, the paintings of Max Ernst, the movies of G.W. Pabst, the music of Alban Berg and the plays of Frank Wedekind and Bertolt Brecht. Brecht, especially, admired Buechner and modelled his early plays on Buechner's work, examining lower forms of life on an abandoned, second-rate planet where even hell is cold, and man freezes with loneliness. But the sex nausea, the highlighted despair and the sado-masochistic feelings which inform plays like Baal, Drums in the Night and In the Jungle of Cities are typical of a whole species of Weimar art in a Buechnerian tradition. For it is an art which focuses on the deterioration of human beings until they are revealed in all their naked insignificance or brutality—an art which forecasts the coming of the Nazis. Buechner prophesied the Nazi pathology a hundred years in advance of the event in his masterpiece, Woyzeck; there he follows the progress of an anti-hero stripped of morals,
Frustrated and in-articulate. untaught. and buffeted by his own uncontrollable impulses. incorrigible. Woyzeck is certainly mad. Buechner handles the problem by ignoring it completely. however. Buechner's social judgment has a metaphysical foundation. but in comparison with his tormentors. Woyzeck replies: "People like us can't be holy in this world—or the next. dann kommt die Moral. morality is an extravagance and virtue a luxury—or as Brecht is to put it a century later: Erst kommt die Fressen. Woyzeck seems human only in his ability to suffer. but then so is the entire world. Woyzeck is based on an actual historical case. At the time. and in the state of Nature. they'd put us to work on the thunder. Woyzeck observes his natural cousins in a monkey dressed as a man and a trained horse who . man is simply another of the beasts. Manipulated by a cold-blooded society.ideals and civilized veneer." To such born victims. At the fairgrounds. If we ever did get into heaven. society is merely another form of nature. To Buechner. that of a Leipzig barber who had murdered his mistress in a fit of jealousy. Like Brecht's. it is not just the system but life itself which inspires Woyzeck's misery. unmoral. Lectured by his condescending Captain on the need for virtue. he is humanity itself. Woyzeck represents mankind in its crudest form—he is Natural Man. a debate had ensued over whether the barber was mad.
Even the Doctor's Pelagian view of human freedom. blow out the sun and let them roll on each other in their lechery! Man and woman and man and beast! They'll do it in the light of the sun! They'll do it in the palm of your hand like flies!" It is the language of Shakespeare's Lear."puts society to shame. he begins to visualize the sexual act—the act of Nature—in images of bestiality. His frenzy increasing over his mistress' infidelity." Buechner further evokes this sense of dislocation through the accidental." observes Woyzeck. And though the Doctor holds that natural man is superior to the animals because he can control his urine. "the world gets dark and you have to feel around with your hands. Woyzeck falls into a "beautiful aberratio" (as the Doctor gleefully calls it). perceiving the whole of life dominated by unrestrained appetite." He becomes the experimental object of a proto-Nazi Doctor who feeds him on peas. It is the form of Nature . unconnected form of the play—Woyzeck moves blindly from episode to episode like the prey of a spider being dragged down its web. like in a spider's web. The natural man is without control. and everything keeps slipping. Shakespearean madness. and in the grip of a lucid. foulness and defilement: "God. ironically limited though it is. Woyzeck urinates against a wall—like a dog. is contradicted by Woyzeck's wayward flesh. and Nature itself is madness and disorder: "When Nature gives way.
" email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search . The poet of isolation and ennul he chronicled the death of the world in images of startling power. And acting on this terrible perception. your mother's dead") at the woman's orphaned child. Nothingness is the world-god yet to be born. Woyzeck cuts his mistress' throat. trying to wash the blood from his hands. foretelling the Second Coming in every line of his art: "The world is chaos. While his contemporaries grew drunk on the rich wine of Rousseau. The play is exaggerated. Later. he falls into a lake—most versions have him drown at this point. The play is all the more remarkable when we remember the date it was written. though Mr. he looked forward to a harrowing future of universal. social and personal disorder. but Buechner's capacity for standing apart from his own time has made him a part of ours. Mueller brings him back to stand trial—and as some children heartlessly fling the news ("Hey. the cycle of inhumanity begins anew.(anarchy and madness) discovering the essence of Nature (lust and anger). but the exaggerations of German art have become the truths of German history: Woyzeck is the first concentration camp man.
com with any questions about this site. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. NYREV. Please contact web@nybooks. 2009. Inc. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. .Little Bookroom / Budapest NYRB Children's Picture Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. All rights reserved.
In terms either of sales or of intrinsic merit. translated by C. we can only be grateful to him.F.F. chaotic and intellectually disreputable. I question whether the books deserve such attention. it is difficult to see what the public of the 1960s will make of these tracts written only a generation ago. translated by C.00 It is characteristic of Alfred Knopf's loyalty to authors he has long esteemed to have reissued two of Spengler's minor writings which have been out of print for ten years. $3. They are dated. Stuart Hughes Man and Technics by Oswald Spengler. But now that Knopf has performed his quixotic gesture. Number 2 · June 1. It means that the corpus of Spengler's translated work is back in print again and that we can see him in perspective as something more (or less) than . 1963 Spengler By H. Atkinson Knopf.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. yet under such totally different circumstances.50 The Hour of Decision by Oswald Spengler. $5. Atkinson Knopf.
Spengler preferred the latter course. After the phenomenal success of The Decline in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. we can rediscover the second role which Spengler himself considered as important as his historical writing—his function as political spokesman and national prophet. and for the five years of Germany's post-war turmoil. The other choice was to get into the fight and show his own countrymen that all was not lost. From a retired Gymnasium teacher living in obscurity in Munich. he devoted his major . might provide the "Caesar" who would give the Western world strength for a lastditch stand in the age of iron which it was entering.the author of The Decline of the West. Spengler might confine himself to the task of enriching the historical perspectives he had presented in The Decline— taking a stand above the day-to-day battle as the cool observer of the millenial (and ineluctable) tendencies of history. that the German nation. He was an activist and a German patriot. Spengler faced a difficult choice. if only it could organize itself aright. he had suddenly been transformed into a public figure. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement By temperament. His every utterance commanded attention as a clue to the future of the Western world whose cultural ossification and political decay he had already delineated. On one hand.
energies to trying to steer his country toward national order and hierarchical discipline. Preussentum und Sozialismus. Unfortunately. and more particularly to the slim polemical volume. toying for years with two vast projects which finally became one—a "metaphysical" book and a study of prehistory in the Mediterranean basin. it added little to the warnings about the culturally devastating effects of technology that had become routine . By 1924. As an anthropological fantasy Man and Technics was distinctly inferior to such Freudian flights as Totem and Taboo and Moses and Monotheism. Spengler returned to historical speculations. The most pessimistic of Spengler's works. With the apparent stabilization of the German economy and of democratic institutions. in which he outlined his prophetic suggestion of a reconciliation between German socialist ideals and the Prussian military tradition. authoritarian conservatives of his type went into temporary eclipse. We must go to the original texts for the articles and lectures in which Spengler preached his own brand of national regeneration. It was a fragment of these broodings that he decided to publish in 1931 under the title Man and Technics. Ill and discouraged. Spengler's failure as a polemicist was amply evident. for this transition period in his writing English translations are totally lacking.
Spengler's final call for action. Unemployment. Spengler lived under an official cloud until his death in 1936. by the time it was published. as its name implied. The latter never materialized: after three months of hesistation.among social critics during the previous generation. The Hour of Decision—"Years of Decision" in the original German—was. When Hitler came to power in January 1933. The book provides Spengler's admirers with an irrefutable defense—and a contemporary and wholly spontaneous one. the book had been printed up to page 106 (Spengler apparently kept writing while the presses were already grinding away!) and it was clear that the new rulers of the Reich would find much of it objectionable. as opposed to a contrived or ex post facto self-justification— . adding a conciliatory introduction and promising a second volume to come. its author had once again shifted the focus of his interest. The circumstances of its publication are a curiosity of literary history. social strife and the rise of Adolf Hitler had given Spengler a second chance to preach to the German nation. These circumstances give The Hour of Decision its historical and biographical importance. So the author decided simply to cut the manuscript where it was. Moreover. the Nazi authorities declared the book unacceptable and forbade its further circulation.
Perhaps it was no more than aesthetic fastidiousness that preserved him from being a National Socialist —but. But he resisted the excesses of anti-Semitism. Whatever contemporary relevance these books possess derives from an understanding that is only now dawning on bewildered Westerners facing a newly liberated Asia and Africa—the realization that good will is not enough. It is true that he had prepared the way for Nazism by his harsh nationalist utterances. Both Man and Technics and The Hour of Decision contain highly suggestive passages on the West's relation to the non-European world. Yet such passages are no more than the . that under a superficial similarity of technics and political institutions yawns an abyss of cultural misunderstanding. that was at least a guarantee against the very worst. as George Orwell says of English hypocrisy. his blood-and-soil effusions and his search for a Caesar. Despite their antiquated terminology of a "colored peril"—which our generation will doubtless find both scientifically and morally reprehensible—they demonstrate that in the last phase of his life Spengler's gift for prophetic insight was far from spent. and he scorned the Hitlerian rabble. As The Hour of Decision amply documents. the "condottiere" Mussolini was closer to Spengler's ideal.against the charge of his being a supporter of Hitler's Reich.
Harsher. less equivocal than Toynbee's. we need to separate out the majestic prose and the arresting thought from what is merely pompous or intellectually banal. All in all. bolder. who brought to these slighter works the same scholarly care he had lavished on The Decline. nothing that he wrote subsequently much increased or diminished the reputation he had acquired by it. Charles Francis Atkinson. This amounted to a long footnote to The Decline—and advisedly so. email icon Email to a friend . For The Decline remained Spengler's monument. For those of us who have learned to read Spengler selectively—as literature and poetic suggestion rather than as history in the strict sense—The Decline stands as the supreme achievement in a troubling and uncertain genre. it may have been a blessing that Nazi intolerance forced Spengler back on his earlier and more abstract interests: his last years he occupied with another—and more impressive—fragment of his metaphysical and prehistorical speculations which is untranslated and hence far too little known. it has set its stamp on the cultural pessimism that remains a central and abiding element in the intellectual history of our era. Fortunately we are assisted in this selection by the translator.flickerings of a profound but clouded intellect. As always with Spengler.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Oskar Matzerath. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. Number 2 · June 1. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Inc. The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. $6. the narrator and protagonist of Günter Grass' The Tin Drum. Oskar was "one of those clairaudient infants whose mental development is completed at birth and after that merely needs a certain amount of filling in.com with any questions about this site. NYREV. All rights reserved. is a thirty-yearold hump-backed inmate of a mental hospital. 2009.Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB Children's Picture Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. 1963 A New Beat By Steven Marcus The Tin Drum by Günter Grass Pantheon." The son of petty bourgeois . Born in the city of Danzig in 1924.
shopkeeping parents. that I would stop right there. The Tin Drum is divided into three parts. The first deals with the life and adventures of Oskar. remain as I was—and so I did. a field of experience which has thus far proved inaccessible to the literary imagination. demonic. flings himself down a flight of stairs. and stops growing—and for many years thereafter "I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire. his family and their circle of acquaintances in Danzig. The next words are his mother's: "When little Oskar is three. in other words. detached." He remains a three-year-old drummer— superior. and ends in 1939. he gets his toy drum. "the middleclass paradise we are living in today." Oskar makes the modern grand refusal: he refuses to "grow up." In order to be "exempted from the big and little catechism. is to deal with Nazi Germany from the inside. he will have a toy drum." Oskar quickly comes to a decision that he "would never under any circumstances be a grocer." The central undertaking of this novel. And it does so by taking and developing as its ." On his third birthday. and part three is an account of Oskar's experiences in post-war Germany and Europe. complete in his deformity. The second part concerns the War." in order to "avoid playing the cash register. Oskar hears two things immediately after he is born: first his father's statement that his son will take over the store when he grows up.
but it dramatizes that concern largely by means of devices which we associate with the imagination of the absurd. energies which do not merely negate each other but oddly act as counterparts as well. Its symbols are not merely multivalent. or are symbolic of nothing beyond their arbitrariness and deceit. and in its untouchability and resistance incorruptibly human—the primitive unconscious. serve to suggest something of this work's tone and quality. The dialectic of The Tin Drum consists of the interplay between the irrational energies of Oskar and the irrational energies of the modern social world. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement This account distorts and simplifies and omits a good deal. The Tin Drum is a large book. sometimes they aren't symbols at all. Its point of view is shifting and indeterminate. On one side Oskar represents this force—mad. and the conception of Oskar is not to be exhausted by such a summary.point of view that one part of the human constitution which remains least touched by politics. he remains peculiarly remote from the organized and post-moral cannibalism into which modern German civilization propelled itself. most resistant to civilization in any form. it regularly . insatiable. the id. indifferent to the commands and sanctions of society. It may. however. The Tin Drum is a novel which has a genuine concern for society. Existing in a state of anarchic and premoral savagery. selfish.
and Oskar often thinks of going to America. It alternates between scenes of the wildest and most scabrous humor and long patches of groping. Its episodes are frequently inconsequent. detailed and often quasinaturalistic account of social reality.dissolves into a welter of self-referring rhetoric. the completeness of form embodying the sudden collapse of content. for example. and its representations of society are almost without exception abstractly symbolic. "the . and the vision of experience which they entail. (The intention of imposing a special kind of stupefaction on its audience seems to me—however one wants to judge it—an integral function of this literature. The Europe which Oskar inhabits. has lost. but the absurdity upon which it most repeatedly focuses and which finally constitutes what must pass for its subject is the absurdity of history. with a thick. It describes surreal events in dryly dispassionate prose. unrelieved tedium. and represents such an action as picking up a pencil as if it were the building of Boulder Dam. destroyed or absconded with its own past. What is new and interesting about Grass' work is that it attempts to combine the devices of the absurd. and when they are not inconsequent tend to be circular. The Tin Drum deals generally with meaninglessness and impossibility in all directions.) Much of the literature of the absurd uses these devices to speak directly to "the human condition".
but not forever. in the meantime flying to Warsaw via Air France in order to deposit. Some carry Chopin in their hearts. of conquest. But then so are the Germans attached to Poland— I look for the land of the Poles that is lost to the Germans. even missing grandfathers. lead Oskar back not so much to the pathos of national history as they do to a particular spot in space and moment in time: a potato field in Kashubia where one day in the . delegations. half German. admirable patriotism. of Uhlans attacking armored tanks with lances. Nowadays the Germans have started searching for Poland with credits. Poland's not lost forever. partition. and moth-eaten provincial students' associations in costume. a wreath on the spot that was once the ghetto. meanwhile. others thoughts of revenge. half Polish.land where people find whatever they have lost. however. conjure up Poland on my drum. but not forever. which is itself a fantasy of romantic defeat. and crazy. One of these days they will go searching for Poland with rockets. they are busily planning a fifth. all's lost. And this is what I drum: Poland's lost. divining rods." Yet Oskar (like his creator) is a native of Danzig. These forlorn snatches from the Polish national anthem. for the moment at least. I. Leicas. and compasses. and he is sentimentally attached to Polish history. with radar. Condemning the first four partitions of Poland. with appropriate remorse.
" The senseless. sped like a well-greased amphibious vehicle over the roads and waterways of Europe and through the air as well. and Oskar's fondest hope is often to get out of all. failing that his "aim is to get back to the umbilical cord. as he stood in his black Mercedes distributing rectangular salutes. preferably by returning with his mother to his grandmother's womb. Teutonic Knights. if not more so. for "History. all the trouble was begun.distant past a man escaping from the police hid for some hours beneath the four capacious skirts of Oskar's grandmother. "For centuries Pomerelians. had made history by deciding every few years that Danzig was worth burning. Swedes. even Saxons. Brandenburgers. and Russians. During that interval Oskar's mother was conceived. blaring special communiqués at the top of its lungs. Frenchmen. Marshal . Poles. Prussians. ant-like "purposeful industry" of the War comes to a climax in the Russian descent on Danzig. and a second time Swedes." But it is an effort doomed to failure. The War begins." At the sight of the still intact city. conquering everything in its path"—its abstractions at least as real as the people it rolls over. and "The Free Hanseatic City of Danzig celebrated the Anschluss of its brick Gothic to the Greater German Reich and gazed jubilantly into the blue eyes…of Adolph Hitler. that is the sole purpose behind this whole vast verbal effort. the Führer and Chancellor.
" Yet the absurdities of Oskar's observations are as nothing compared with the behavior of his father." Oskar rejects history. and for the first time expressed doubts about the final victory.Rokossovski "remembered his great international precursors and set the wholeplace on fire with his artillery in order that those who came after him might work off their excess energies in rebuilding. Indeed the short circuit of emotion and event is sometimes absolute." And of the post-war binge of prosperity Oskar remarks that every binge is "followed by a hangover. Such a maneuver acts to add another . who while the Russians are blowing up the city was "as bewildered as a child who can't make up his mind whether to go on believing in Santa Claus. but he beats on his drum to keep memory fresh. a minor Nazi official. are reduced to history and explained as such. and one symptom of this hangover is that the deeds and misdeeds which only yesterday were fresh and alive and real. The Tin Drum employs this device to considerable effect. it maintains a large distance between the events it describes and the emotions ordinarily "appropriate" to those events." And while Danzig is burning Oskar looks out of a window "and was amazed to see what a burst of vitality our venerable old city had been able to summon up. One of the more striking characteristics of the literature of the absurd has to do with its use of displacement.
modulated. perpetual threeyear-old. and this in itself is something of an achievement. The whole novel is made possible by the conception of Oskar.dimension of distortion and negation to the novel's imaginative view. and probably insurmountable. The events with which The Tin Drum mostly deals normally elicit the most violent emotions—disgust. Yet we must recognize as well that this evasion is inseparable from its imaginative achievement and assertion. revulsion. murderous hatred. But this conception also permits Grass to bypass the most important. but it also acts as a positive defense against certain emotions and as a means of controlling them. would I have done then? Had the choice been forced upon me. rage. distanced and turned into comedy through the separations. a totally conscious. These violences are mastered. horror. and this avoidance represents the outer limits of this novel's moral and imaginative vision. totally irrational. The characteristic tone of The Tin Drum is a cool exuberance. displacements and dislocations of the absurd. moral question possible to a young German: What. what decision would I have made? Oskar's decision not to grow up permits this confrontation to be avoided. had I been old enough. and must consider once again that in such strange shifts and twists does literary creation find its . But at the center of The Tin Drum there is another displacement which both accounts for this novel's particular interest and expresses its author's dilemma.
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75 Since Ben Jonson. are usually encountered first in the limitless flood of commentary that Shakespeare provokes. we must look with more than a specialist's interest at a volume like Mrs. serve instead of a full account. Number 2 · June 1. $2. or. which . 1963 Shakespeare By Andrew Chiappe Shakespeare Criticism. applied his critical theory to Shakespeare. Since major movements of critical thought. ordered and clarified the copious inventions and intuitions proceeding from his "Nature. Ridler's. in fact. in his commemorative poem in the First Folio." Shakespeare's works have been the proper and central concern of English—speaking critics.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. (One thinks of Keats and Empson.) A history of Shakespeare criticism would be a basic history of criticism in English and might. have originated from their study. and the wilder aberrations as well. in some cases. 1935-1960 Selected with an introduction by Anne Ridler Oxford University Press (World's Classics). confirmed by them. the shifting fashions and winds of doctrine. Critical theories and methods have been tested on the plays and poems. stressing the "Art" that shaped.
Ridler made of the Shakespeare criticism of the years 1919 to 1935 for a World's Classics volume published in 1936. Robertson (whose untenable assumptions about the origin of Hamlet. as "the theatre. This selection extends the previous selection which Mrs. S. led by Granville-Barker. who saw Shakespeare's context. . Ellot's essay on "Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca. and more rigidly historicist readings by E. Stoll and J. E. by those critics. Also included were textual and historical analyses by W." though disagreeing about the nature of that theatre. S. as well as T. have confused a whole generation). Wilson Knight's study of symbolic and visionary patterns. transmitted by T." The theme most central to the collection was borne. as Mrs.attempts to select a sampling of "principal trends" in the Shakespeare criticism of the past quarter century. B." GranvilleBarker's examinations of dramatic meanings in relation to the mixed modes of the Elizabethan-Jacobean theatre. W. M. by J. More general and impressionistic essays were included. The earlier volume presented new and exciting directions in the 20th-century approach to Shakespeare: Caroline Spurgeon's early work on imagery and "leading motifs. and England under Elizabeth. M. and the assumptions and attitudes of the Elizabethans. Ridler pointed out in her introduction. Eliot. however. George Rylands and Edmund Blunden. Harrison. Murry. Greg and G.
Chambers. in F. M. noting this tendency in her introduction. The focus is once more on the establishment of the dramatic image of man and the moral implications of that image as Shakespeare's central activity. I. Ridler noted. Mrs. I. Stewart) dares to speak of Shakespearean Tragedy as "the best book on Shakespeare" and the others treat Bradley's work with the respect that has always marked major Shakespeareans like Granville-Barker and Wilson Knight. C. has swung through a measurable arc. Wilson Knight. J. Mrs. justly observes that the study of characters is now more closely bound to the whole contexts of the . NYRB / Names on the Land Twenty-five years later the wheel. it is true. An echo of the oncefashionable rejection of Bradley is still heard. W. Stewart.To this generation of critics. Ridler." But elsewhere one critic (J. Helen Gardner). Knights. More: we find ourselves involved regularly in the discussion (if not the "extraction") of Shakespeare's characters in some of the best of these essays (by R. M. L. if it has not come full circle. R. Leavis' essay in this volume ("We have left Bradley fairly behind") which incredibly fuses Bradley with William Archer in the hyphenated phrase "the Bradley-Archer approach. the "moral approach" of Pater and Bradley's "practice of character extraction" had grown alien. and offer his majestical analyses no show of violence.
was so subtle as to be distracting in many cases.plays. animating and illuminating those. by Bradley—as it had been earlier by Coleridge—and would have been continuously available if the rebels had troubled to read them fully and with care (or at all) instead of mocking trivially at Bradley's notes. out of context. as Jonson insisted. There were . Much of this organic sense of the work was implied. the tempest the dark heart of King Lear. ideas. or directly presented. The force of these elements in the plays is weighed by the degree to which they are structured into the characters and their acts. This stress on the "organic" wholeness of the dramatic poem is strong throughout the collection. image-clusters. The fineness of Bradley's analysis of the images of man in action projected by Shakespeare's art. massed meanings and rhythms of the whole play. but it was always related to a sense of the poetic shape. conventions of thought and stagecraft are seen achieving their final realization in the human images which move before us on the stage (or in the imagination) and in their imagined actions. as the "enchared flood" becomes part of Othello himself. formal patterns. If any one has been "left fairly behind" it is the New Critics in their more restricted efforts. or supposed notes. and the vision of a moral universe it implied. Images. symbols. the central substance of any drama. is on the complex art which makes meaningful the gifts of nature. The emphasis.
Essex. his aberrations are famous. but they are very few. in the better places. self-delighting. performances and conventions of the Elizabethan-Jacobean theatre. unsullied by any relevance to the life words refer to. Ralegh. Donne. Yet even Cordelia's childhood with her evil sisters (a backward reflection in fact prompted in us by some lines in the play) is more relevant to the full meaning of King Lear than are some of the floating strands of imagery we have been asked to grasp at by those critics who have detached symbol and image from the central dramatic context.moments when Bradley nodded. selfsustaining. went through their intricate motions. one has sometimes the impression that a performance in the vital Elizabethan-Jacobean theatre is imagined as a private rite of language celebrated in the presence of a crowd of indifferent groundlings (and. the still living but disturbed medieval . and even Donne and the others. one suspects. continued to ask their vulgar questions: What is the matter with Hamlet? Do the vilest things "become" themselves in Cleopatra? Is ripeness really all? It is cheering therefore to see a reunion of tendencies in the best work in this volume: an attempt to gather the great deal we have come to know about the texts. Yet the groundlings. In extreme developments of this criticism disengaged from dramatic action. Sir Henry Wotton) in which autonomous mechanisms of words. Bacon.
and for the bearing of all these on the way we are to take character. symbolism. Wilson Knight and Granville-Barker. and now we must keep a vigilant eye open for the development of theme by imagery and symbolism. We may not be able to follow Professor Knight in his presentation of Shakespeare as prophet. poetic and . The tone—an emphasis on both symbol and character and their implications—is set by the longest of the essays in the volume. action. but he gives us the formula for sound criticism: "Symbolism blends with iterative imagery and that with the persons of the play themselves. holds promise for a study of Shakespeare which will attend to character. shares this wisdom: "We are aware of the subtle varieties of possibility under the head of convention. psychology old and new. Wilson Knight's "The Shakespearean Integrity. action." Dr." which extends the organic sense to the whole of Shakespeare's mature work. into a single focus on the organic and complex poetic-dramatic art which animates Shakespeare's plays. in a relaxed moment. and presents the coherence of the Shakespearean vision of life as it develops through the particulars of many dramatic actions. the great debates of the Renaissance. and plot.tradition. Leavis. approaches not ultimately incompatible. so that there is scarcely an isolated or insatiable heart to the organism." A combination of the approaches of Bradley. imagery.
The best of the critical essays in this collection make such a combination: L. Leavis on Shakespeare's last plays. Patrick Cruttwell—would have made this . This approach requires a constant caveat lest in recognizing the continuing energies of tradition it overlook the equally great energies of change that marked Shakespeare's age. and is transformed by that questioning. Nevill Coghill on the medieval tradition of the comedies. Chambers on Elizabethan-Jacobean attitudes in Measure for Measure. Auden on music in Shakespeare. Danby. performance in a realistsymbolist theatre. F.symbolic structure. in many aspects traditional. essays are drawn from that growing body of studies which relate the works of Shakespeare to the history of ideas and dramatic and literary conventions: R. W. W. C. R. Tillyard's Shakespeare's History Plays. J. F. H. and thus fail to value properly one of his chief accomplishments—the reconstitution in the plays of a sense of world and individual order. M. Kenneth Muir on Pericles. more historical. W. but an order which has endured the questioning of the mature plays. Knights on King Lear. Other. Some selections from scholars who stress the counter-Renaissance tendencies in Shakespeare—Theodore Spencer. and excerpts from Dover Wilson's The Fortunes of Flastaff and E. all related by that relentless coherence which is a unique characteristic of Shakespeare's mature genius.
has been so widespread that it needs to be met with. Ridler's reason for omitting any specimen of the work of William Empson: that it requires "a complex technique of . The psychoanalytic approach. There is promise in some as yet tentative attempts to link Shakespeare's pieties to that study of the history of art forms which the art historians of this century have analyzed with so much scholarship and brilliance. Mrs. or a series of small ones. Una EllisFermor. especially in the United States. of course. Kitto's essay on Hamlet) could be studied further in the work of Francis Fergusson and C. Traversi. be truly representative or give a comprehensive view of the main tendencies of recent Shakespeare criticism. (The colleges are still full of unreclaimed Stollites.selection more representative. D. and also endure longer. all of whom are omitted from Mrs. Ridler's selection. And one may quarrel with Mrs. A. L.) In a larger volume. for example. No volume of this size can. The ritual elements in drama (touched upon in this volume in H. Two or three such collections would be needed to give something like the full spectrum of work on Shakespeare. Barber. one would expect to see some of the significant work of Alfred Harbage. Mark Van Doren. and one cannot therefore quarrel with her many omissions. where fashions in criticism proliferate in greater abundance than in Great Britain. Ridler acknowledges this limitation. though it has produced much nonsense. F. D.
The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. his essays on Folly and the Fool in Lear in The Structure of Complex Words. Ridler for having gathered together so many good essays. for example. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher.com with any questions about this site. NYREV. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Books = Gifts Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. . are available and illuminating to any one who brings to them a merely active mind.understanding". 2009. and for having established firmly in her selections the salutary direction which is coming to dominate Shakespeare criticism. Please contact web@nybooks. Inc. All rights reserved. Yet one must be grateful to Mrs.
1963 Cook's Tour By Richard Poirier V. his naval buddies. Nathanael West and Djuna Barnes. is full of self-mystified people consistently avoiding direct relations with one another through disguise or evasion. $5.95 Nothing more intricately conceived than Thomas Pynchon's first novel has appeared in American fiction since the work in the thirties by Faulkner. V. the last two being among the writers who have given him the courage of his artifices and of the assumptions that go with them. Neither of the two interwoven plots is presented in sequence.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. people living the disrupted existences either of the Cook's Tour. or. of a kind of contemporary tourism called "yo-yoing. by Thomas Pynchon Lippincott. and a gang in New (sometimes "Nueva") York who call themselves the Whole Sick Crew. One involves a self-styled schlemihl named Benny Profane. in the other. Number 2 · June 1. It is reconstructed . in one plot. repetitive passage and return on any convenient ferry or subway." the pointless. The other is an international melodrama of spying that covers the years since 1898.
She has been on the scene of various international crises since her first appearance in Cairo during the Fashoda incident in 1898. is a lady internationally renowned as spy. she is deflowered by a British agent. to make Veronica his first saint and his mistress. So far as Stencil is concerned. in the absence of love. is. so named by a Father Fairing who wants. In . Venezuela) during which she seduces Stencil's father at the British consulate. It can refer to a bar called the V-note. and under the name Virginia Wren. thereby becoming Stencil's mother. There. where Benny and the Crew listen to a jazz player named McClintic Sphere. the goddess. to the mythical land of Vheissu with its iridescent spider monkeys. however. V. one devotes his passion and curiosity. V. the mons Veneris—to Venezuela and Queen Victoria. to Venus. the planet. whether she (or it) is not wholly a fantasy.by Herbert Stencil—the name meaning that he is a copy of his father in the effort to keep track of the elusive V. lover. Even the title of the novel is thus cryptographic. transvestite and impersonator. Veronica. The next year she is in Florence coincident with a manufactured crisis over Vheissu (and. to Vesuvius and other volcanoes. He cannot be sure what V. in her nineteenth year. of course. in his efforts to convert the rats of New York to Roman Catholicism. to Valetta on Malta: to a sewer rat. comes to stand for anything to which.
a "psychodontist" who treats patients for such ills as "heterodont configuration. Still later. hunter of alligators in the New York sewers. disguised as a priest with a detachable gold foot. as lady spy and seductress is given a chapter. and as the older. and in this instance is given two simultaneous identities by Stencil: as a child of sixteen with whiteblond. more subtle Vera Meroving who sports a glass eye. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement Roughly speaking. She makes her last appearance. hiplength hair and the information that "I am Hedwlg Vogelsang. she is identified in Paris in 1913 as the Lesbian fetishist lover of a dancer named Mélanie l'Heuremaudit. again on Malta in 1939 when. she is knocked unconscious in a bombing raid and disassembled by a group of children who are less mean than inquisitive. she is placed in German Southwest Africa during a native rebellion in 1922. and my purpose on earth is to tantalize and send raving the race of man". schlemihl. or. in Stencil's increasingly weird dehumanization of the figure. as we . and a star sapphire sewn into her navel on Malta in 1919-she was known then as Veronica Manganese. each story involving V. sometimes by Stencil to members of the Crew or to Dudley Eigenvalue. the face of which is also a watch." Alternating with these tales are chapters devoted to the career of Benny Profane—as yo-yo. sometimes narrated by the author.subsequent impersonations.
and one comes to feel even this early in the novel a considerable discomfort about its alternations of pace and sensibility. insofar as it has been possible to give one. she is at first presented with a satiric extravagance that puts an excessive limit on the possible development of the figures in the books. as assistant to a Brazilian salad man at a borscht resort. Though she is to become the moral heroine of the novel. is all. especially at this particular point where the weight of surrounding caricature bears heavily upon her. a Rachel Owlglass. But the comic intention is thwarted by an uncertain pathos. she who can see wisely without becoming a voyeur.J. Pynchon's comic style resembles the zanier writings of Evelyn Waugh or the early S. if that is what they can be called. at the opening of the novel. will probably take Rachel's "little cry" for friendship with a kind of wry amusement. It is here.' " Anyone reading this account of the novel. Perelman.first see him.' she cried—a little cry —'be my friend. And in fact that is what the novel itself seems to ask of us. Inherent in the dislocations between this style and the moments where the author wants to evoke human sympathy and tenderness is the guess that Pynchon will not feel that these . that he meets the most humanly identifiable of the characters. full of postures and a greater desire for sexual contact with her MG than with Benny: " 'Benny. She is at the time a Bennington girl.
The insistent grotesqueness of this novel— literally of confusing human. he is limited now only by his determination to show off. his caricature so eager. even temporarily. and he has the eye and ear of a great parodist. are prodigious. . geography. With such talents. and his elaborately jumbled plots make it appear that such gestures are unable. kindness or love are barely visible. His displays of genius tend to jostle each other out of the way. enough to demand comparison less with Perelman than with the Joyce of the Circe episode of Ulysses. an astonishing knowledgeability—of history. seem like a historical development that has been accelerating since the end of the last century. his comic inventions are always so active. And in some important ways they do not. His ambitions in V. that he cannot effectively allow his characters the seriousness and delicacy his thematic ambitions require of them.comparisons do justice to his book. The effect of his grotesqueness is thus extremely pessimistic. public and private. He shows unusual capacities for philosophical discriminations. animate and inanimate things—is Pynchon's way of showing a world in which gestures of human warmth. especially since the interweaving of the two plots makes the decadence of life. sexual lore—all expressed with an authoritative ease especially remarkable in a young writer. medicine. to bring order and sequence to the lives of his characters.
only a V. even though her later scenes with Profane are the most eloquently poignant in the book. creating in the process those international situations that have no objective reality but which express an unconscious.. by those characters. especially in the treatment of kindly . for instance. inanimate. like Benny Profane whom Rachel finally cannot save from the Whole Sick Crew. by far the most numerous. And yet wherever he tries an alternative his style usually betrays the effort. They choose instead to become. The search for V. Being at first a participant in this surrender to the inanimate.Obviously. Pynchon would obviously like to imagine some way out of the paralysis toward which his comedy is always pointing. constructed. It becomes limp and platitudinous. whose incapacity for love allows them to see the human image only as a thing to see in the spread thighs of a woman. Or they find some hopeless animation in the madly ingenious orderings of life around a phanton like V. Pynchon's view of modern existence is too speculative to center on any institutionalized villain or to expend itself in yet another attack on "conformity. universal urge to self-annihilation. in a metaphorical sense." His book is about the failure of human beings to arouse in one another their potentialities for love and hope. is not along a path of human victory but of historical fatality. Rachel must of necessity cry "be my friend" in a small voice. even sought.
"young people. than this brilliantly apocalyptic writer had the heart to do. NYREV. McClintic's line. sounds like so much pap. in his debut. But in the context of the startling energy. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB / Christmas Classics Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. no doubt. Inc.bartenders or. earns the right to be called one of the best we now have. that while there are still unmanageable conflicts in him he is strong enough to evade them—a most productive tension in a novelist. who. help without breaking your ass or publicizing it: keep cool but care"—is also a kind of stoic coda to the book. full of a sloganeering crispness. as he rather cloyingly alludes to them." The advice which McClintic Sphere gives himself—"Love with your mouth shut. All rights reserved. This means. I think. To have therefore mocked it is more. stress and imagination of the prose devoted to the grotesque shape which life assumes here. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the .
Please contact email@example.com with any questions about this site. . The cover date of the next issue will be January 15.publisher. 2009.
fit only for textbooks. the history of forms. who are concerned with the history of ideas. it is difficult to repress one's indignation at the thought of what "realism" in the Soviet Union.50 "Realism" is a boring term now. Number 2 · June 1. 1963 Literary Realism By Alfred Kazin Documents of Modern Literary Realism edited by George J. what it stood for in the 19th century has long since been absorbed into even the most indifferent and machine-produced literary entertainment for the masses. No intelligent novelist worries about "realism" any more. Becker Princeton University Press. where it is not a literary creed but the state religion. But these are either literary scholars. There are people who still use it with interest. $8. has done to honest writers. Why then bother with "realism" today? Why . And when "realism" is used to denote a positive ideal. as it is by people more interested in sociology than in literature. the history of a common way of seeing reality (which is what a literary movement represents)—or propagandists for art-with-a-purpose.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1.
Russian. whether supported by "realistic" doctrine or not. as Professor George Becker says in his comprehensive introduction to realism as a ." Even the most pretentious and boding epistemological French novelists of the new wave don't seem to be able to write fiction or even to talk about fiction except in relation to "realism. English.read and review an anthology of this bulk. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement It is true. American. Works completely "romantic" are not novels. French. when so many literary minds are expressly against realism as a doctrine. they are romances. been synonymous with realism. thingconcerned instrumentalist world. even in our day. the relationship to the agreed-upon and sensible external world is unmistakable. the novel. no matter how much there is of romance in a novel by Cooper or Scott or Melville." sceptical. Italian. for whom "realism" was a lively issue? The answer is that the interest in "realism" has been an interest in the novel. the novel has always. Realism and the novel had the same roots in the "modern." For realism and the novel grew out of the same need to describe and indeed to systematize our literary ideas of the external world. seems to break down whenever there is not vital enough or consistent enough a sense of "reality. The novel is nothing without "real life". German. Spanish. laden with thoughts on realism by all those 19th-century writers.
rather it was controlled and its functioning directed by the official aesthetic doctrine of a given time and place. Dreiser and . James. so no one who just cares for literature would today. Just as there are textbooks of "realism" in American philosophy which no one not a a professor would ever open if they didn't feature William James or Santayana. But the deepest interest of the formula is surely what certain "seizing" imaginations (to use a key word in Henry James' writings on the novel) made of it. pay any attention to "realism" if it weren't for the fact that without it Stendhal. when there is obviously no need for realism as a doctrine to be an explicit and fighting issue. to thieves and prostitutes. which was never before realistic." But the novel with its peculiar openness—to the life of crowds. Flaubert. war. dominated and controlled a whole work before the middle of the 19th century." Of course the novel is a form and "realism" is a formula. if ever. if it had not emerged from the same interests and beliefs as "realism. the fields. Balzac.movement. the labor exchange. the stock exchange. the hiring hall— would never have emerged as the great modern form. scandal. the almost inevitable destination that prose takes whenever it wants to make things really explicit by dramatizing them. the factory. groups. to politics. Crane. to low life. to adventures and journeyings. Tolstoy. streets. that "realism rarely. to erotic detail.
It was a creed." as he said grimly. a "truth" good for a season. doesn't remove the fact that if realism hadn't been in the air. Does it matter. Madame Bovary would not exist. that Dickens is not a fullfledged realist? That in his preface to La Comedie Humaine Balzac is grandiloquent in his conception of it and that Zola. simply mechanical and pretentious? Yes it does—it matters not in relation to the doctrine." Today it is impossible to read . but in relation to the imaginations that are inspired by it. in Le Roman Experimental. and made use of as if he believed in it. even in his hands obviously stretched to suit his imperial temperament. then. For me "realism" is something that Balzac believed in.other pillars of the modern novel might never have created their works. or thought he believed in. which like all literary doctrines is simply an agreed way of looking at reality." that he indeed resented and despised the doctrines and dictionaries of the movement. an idea with which to unlock the voluminous 19th century. but which nevertheless gave him a convincing picture of things. The fact that Flaubert didn't really consider himself a "realist. Of course it is comic now to read the reviews of the time in Professor Becker's anthology and to learn that Bovary is "arid" and "dry. if Flaubert hadn't forced himself to participate in it "once. undeniably pretentious.
But it is less the inconsistency of "realistic" method in Flaubert that interests me now than it is the variations in tone. When a man says that life has no fundamental purpose and that his aim as a writer is "merely" to show the objective facts of behavior. from Flaubert's impatience for effect. Realism-naturalism was a springboard to the creative imagination. Flaubert was never really objective at all. clever and dynamic he is in discovering these profound truths." and indulging himself in colors and textures as if they were forbidden sweets. they will make use of ideas. So long as men live in time and can anticipate a future. Despite the lack of purpose in the universe that such doctrines announce. he takes advantage of the supposed meaninglessness and objectivity to show how free. still hungry for "beauty. since he despised the public world and wanted either to escape it or to parody it. a section of whose remarkable book on Le Roman Russe is . even ideas of purposelessness. to display their discovery of truth. The Count de Vogue. like Emma unfurling her umbrella in the rain.the most beautiful passages in the book. These proceed. from the extraordinary personal bitterness from which he was always trying to escape into the effects of brutality (which he called "objectivity") and beauty. I suspect. no writer ever feels that a doctrine is without purpose if he can make use of it. without feeling a kind of compassion for Flaubert.
a form of . and despite his private instability actually more balanced a mind than either. was no doubt right to see "realism" as the artist's key to understanding. that novelists have become scientists. that the novelist now performs "experiments" on his characters. that all the writers of all the ages were convinced that they were realistic…. "is it that the so-called realism of our writers tells us about the happiness of our time?…. The artists of our century willy-nilly glorify the scientific beatitudes. as so many thoughtful Christians did in the 19th century." that "the whole experiment consists of taking facts from nature. but from our understanding of reality…. that the "experimental" novel. complained. as Zola did. "is simply the record of that experiment. as he called it." Nietzsche. "What then." asked Nietzsche.included in this anthology. that realism-naturalism was a denial of meaning and purpose in the universe. One is indeed led to believe that our particular happiness does not spring from what really is." how can we believe that Zola is a mechanism. that Zola is anything but a free and creative human being proud of having found his key to the mystery of nature and society? Nietzsche understood—Erich Heller quotes this in his essay here on "The Realistic Fallacy"—that "realism" in art is an illusion. But when a writer himself says. who was more penetrating than perhaps any novelist of his time except Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
irrefutable. Yet to write at all. of overwhelming pride. one must see it so for oneself. Many a point of view which we in our day consider absolutely true. for certain novelists in the 19th century who wanted to give direct impressions of life. which we consider mistaken. made a character live in a story and shaped a beautiful line in any piece of writing. Life had opened up even more than the novelists had. the writer must give a character to the world he lives in— from its streets to its cosmos. nevertheless has not added a good line to a poem. understood better than most philosophers—he was probably the most gifted "poet" among the philosophers after Plato—the relationship of any philosophy to imaginative creation. one must see the world in some comprehensive light. who even as a philosopher was unique in his disdain of system. Realism liberated gifted people in the lower class to discover their vocation as novelists. Dante's cosmogony. all writers would have had to come out of the old elites. "Realism" did this. . He must really see things in its light. going to the heart of things. does not keep us from appreciating his poetry. sensible. passingly and scatteringly. like the French revolution.intellectual control and mastery—indeed. He must believe in the image of reality he uses. Whether the character a writer gives the world will fit in well with the present age or be superseded by the next. But Nietzsche. If it hadn't been for realism.
as a way of seeing human beings for purposes of imaginative form. notably Zola and Dreiser. too. Obviously this was not a loss. programmatic and even cheap. and though they try to look back. it is not hard to see why novelists do less well than they used to.industrialism. Of course many such writers. When one considers how confidently and rhythmically the novelists of the past advanced in order to display their mastery of "fact" in the external world. "realism" opened the way to new talents. it is clear that the psyche is . They posed as thinkers. They simply don't know how to put so much change into their books. It may be that "creeds" in general are now mistaken by the writer as tyrannical and external. to the "age of psychology" as to a golden age. when imaginative new thinkers like William James. has become so banal and second-hand that it is impossible to imagine works like Ulysses and The Sound and the Fury coming out of the Freudian clichés of our day. big cities. Freud and Bergson put a new emphasis on the autonomous and unconscious resources of the individual. changes in the external world. which in the 18th and 19th centuries the novelists felt exactly suited to describe. democracy. now. By now this. As an authentic philosophy it fell apart in the 1890s. were intellectually pretentious. now proceed too fast for everybody except computers. but were merely novelists. and in any event "realism" as a way of interpreting reality soon became banal.
com with any questions about this site. Please contact web@nybooks. Yet "realism" as a way of thinking. 2009. . All rights reserved. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. NYREV. Inc. as an approach to what we confidently still think of as "reality"—outside of us yet still embracing us in a single order of truth—will remain so long as fiction remains the natural extension of an age of prose.not of limitless interest as a subject for fiction. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008.
an infusion of intense feeling. as in life. $5. 1963 The Ideal Husband By Susan Sontag Albert CamusAlbert Camus by David Levine Notebooks. brutality—that they would never countenance in a husband. the writer allows them to savor rare emotions and dangerous sensations. And. 1935-42 by Albert Camus. Notoriously. Some writers supply the solid virtues of a husband: reliability. intelligibility. selfishness. generosity. . In the same way. lies.. There are other writers in whom one prizes the gifts of a lover. unreliability. gifts of temperament rather than of moral goodness. obsessiveness. in compensation. Translated from the French by Philip Thody Knopf. Number 3 · September 26. painful truths. bad grammar—if. decency. women tolerate qualities in a lover—moodiness. so in art both are necessary.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. readers put up with unintelligibility. 225 pp. It's a great pity when one is forced to choose between them.00 Great writers are either husbands or lovers. in return for excitement. husbands and lovers.
Perversity is the muse of modern literature. No wonder. Being a contemporary. In the great periods of literature. as in life. NYR Holiday Subscription Special I speak of course. . that is. that when an immensely gifted writer. and was forever carrying on about it in the guise of a conflict between the bourgeois and the artist. gleeful rapists. arises who boldly assumes the responsibilities of sanity. each literary movement vies with its predecessor in a great display of temperament. guilt. But he does so with such an air of reasonableness. affectlessness. Today the house of fiction is full of mad lovers. singularity.Again. then. he should be acclaimed beyond his purely literary merits. mesure. in all the great periods of literature. absolute terror. castrated sons—but very few husbands. Each writer. of Albert Camus. the ideal husband of contemporary letters. Modern literature is oversupplied with madmen of genius. husbands have been more numerous than lovers. But most modern writers don't even allow Mann's problem. Even so husbandly and solid a writer as Thomas Mann was tormented by an ambivalence toward virtue. except our own. whose talents certainly fall short of genius. obsession. he had to traffic in the madmen's themes: suicide. they would all like to be lovers. The husbands have a bad conscience. so in art: the lover usually has to take second place.
For it is not only that Camus himself is always thrusting the moral problem upon his readers. gracious impersonality. or at least suggest. One wants Camus to be a truly great . has aroused love. To write about Camus is thus to consider what occurs between the image of a writer and his work. and literary judgment. is not major enough to bear the weight of admiration that readers want to give it. No discussion of Camus fails to include. Kafka arouses pity and terror. (All his stories. His death in 1960 was felt as a personal loss by the whole literate world. which is tantamount to the relation between morality and literature.effortlessness.) It is because his work. but no modern writer that I can think of. plays. moral. Proust and Gide respect. a tribute to his goodness and attractiveness as a man. This illogical leaping of the abyss to nihilism is the gift for which readers are grateful to Camus. he moves the reader—solely by the power of his own tranquil voice and tone—to humanist and humanitarian conclusions in no way entailed by his premises. Whenever Camus is spoken of there is a mingling of personal. Starting from the premises of a popular nihilism. solely as a literary accomplishment. Joyce admiration. except Camus. This is why he evoked feelings or real affection on the part of his readers. as to place him apart from the others. and novels relate the career of a responsible sentiment. or the absence of it.
a far more important writer. Sartre. whose most illustrative and symbolic fictions are at the same time autonomous acts of the imagination. however distasteful certain of his political sympathies are to his Englishspeaking audience. This is not true of Camus. political articles. Clamence. psychological. It is not so much about its characters— Meursault. journalism? It is extremely distinguished work. It might be useful here to compare Camus with George Orwell and James Baldwin. Camus's fiction is illustrative. addresses. brings a powerful and original mind to philosophical. Rieux— as it is about the problems of innocence and guilt. Jan. . Dr. The three novels. two other husbandly writers who essay to combine the role of artist with civic conscience. What of Camus's essays. Unlike Kafka. the stories. Caligula. But he is not. responsibility and nihilistic indifference. somewhat skeletal quality which makes them less than absolutely first-rate. But what is true is that Camus's art is always in the service of certain intellectual conceptions which are more fully stated in the essays. not just a very good one.writer. philosophical. literary criticism. Both Orwell and Baldwin are better writers in their essays than they are in their fiction. judged by the highest standards of contemporary art. and the plays have a thin. Camus's fiction continually betrays its source in an intellectual concern. But was Camus a thinker of importance? The answer is no.
" and in the casual writings. Dostoyevsky. Oran. The celebrated philosophical essays ("The Myth of Sisyphus. Kafka) and speaks in his own person. This happens with special frequency to the writer. Heidegger. Moral beauty has tendency to decay very rapidly into sententiousness or untimeliness. Kierkegaard. more convincing in their prefession of moral interest. Camus is at his best when he disburdens himself of the baggage of existentialist culture (Nietzsche. This happens in the great essay against capital punishment. moral beauty. Unfortunately. who appeals directly to a generation's image of what is exemplary in a man in a given . What accounts for the extraordinary appeal of his work is beauty of another order. Other writers have been more engaged. a quality unsought by most twentieth-century writers. however attractive his political sympathies. like Camus. But none have appeared more beautiful. does not." The Rebel) are the work of an extraordinarily talented and literate epigone. "Reflections on the Guillotine. Camus. moral beauty in art—like physical beauty in a person—is extremely perishable. more moralistic. The same is true of Camus as a historian of ideas and as a literary critic. Neither art nor thought of the highest quality is to be found in Camus. and other Mediterranean places. like the essay-portraits of Algiers.and literary analysis. It is nowhere so durable as artistic or intellectual beauty.
and historically relevant. moderation—offered to palliate intolerable historical or metaphysical dilemmas were too general. this decay overtook Camus within his own lifetime. that passion seemed to transmute itself too readily into stately language. For a few. But also. The moral imperatives—love. as with Baldwin. the presence of an entirely genuine. into an inexhaustible self-perpetuating oratory.historical situation. as one senses in James Baldwin. remarked savagely that Camus carried about with him "a portable pedestal. one critic was predicting for Camus the same fate as that of Aristides: that we would tire of hearing him called "the Just. But one cannot dismiss such unkind remarks simply as the revenge of the grateful. Sartre." Perhaps it is always dangerous for a writer to inspire gratitude in his readers. too abstract. too rhetorical. gratitude being one of the most vehement but also the shortest-lived of the sentiments." Then came that deadly honor. the Nobel Prize. Unless he possesses extraordinary reserves of artistic originality. passion. . If Camus's moral earnestness at times ceased to enthrall and began to irritate. One sensed in Camus. his work is likely to seem suddenly denuded after his death. it's because there was a certain intellectual weakness in it. And shortly before his death. in the famous debate that ended their famous friendship.
More than a decade later. in 1951. and to refuse to take sides in the Algerian revolt—and that he acquitted himself admirably. as wholeheartedly as he did. The refutation of revolt in that book was. In 1939. to cue into real historical choices. an act of self-persuasion. a gesture of temperament. it was possible for him to act. which has just begun. What intricate goodness. So is revolt." His radical stance preceeded the reasons which justified it. Camus's problem in the . an absolute revolt that acknowledges limits—and converted the paradox into a recipe for good citizenship. in the midst of reflections on the war. Camus published The Rebel. equally. goodness is forced to search simultaneously for its appropriate act and for its justifying reason. after all! In Camus's writing. It should be remembered that Camus had to make no less than three exemplary decisions in his brief lifetime—to participate personally in the French Resistance. in two out of the three. to disassociate himself from the Communist Party. the young Camus interrupted himself in his Notebooks to remark: 'I am seeking reasons for my revolt which nothing has so far justified. in my opinion.Camus is the writer who for a whole literate generation was the heroic figure of a man living in a state of permanent spiritual revolution. But he is also the man who advocate that paradox: a civilized nihilism. What is remarkable is that given Camus's refined temperament.
who had followed Camus out of the Temps Modernes group over the issue of Communism. was uniquely qualified to speak—was the final and unhappy testament of his moral virtue. I do not underestimate the courage involved in disavowing the proCommunism of many French intellectuals in the late forties. While Camus clung to his silence. these instincts inevitably falter. as both Algerian and Frenchman. that he had hoist himself on the petard of his own virtue. and Sartre himself. Camus was not that tough. not tough in the way that Sartre is. His agonizing inability to take a stand on the Algerian question—the issue on which he. He also needs to be emotionally tough. gathered influential signatories for two historic manifestoes protesting the continuation of the Algerian . It was. As a moral judgment. But moral and political judgment do not always so happily coincide. Why is so much demanded of a writer. or that he subsided into bourgeois humanitarian seriousness. like a boxer. A writer who acts as public conscience needs extraordinary nerve and fine instincts. After a time.last years of his life was not that he became religious. both Merleau-Ponty. Throughout the fifties. or that he lost his socialist nerve. Camus's decision was right then. Camus declared that his private loyalties and sympathies made it impossible for him to render decisive political judgment. he asked plaintively. and since the death of Stalin he has been vindicated many times over in a political sense as well. rather.
There one finds the prescription of an attitude (noble. The attitude. whose political integrity Camus had seemed to demolish a decade before. noble feelings in search of noble acts. The ability to act. at the same time detached and compassionate) tacked on to the description of excruciating events. It is less an intellectual position which Camus elaborated than an exhortation to feel—with all the risks of political impotence that this entailed. Lionel Abel spoke of him as the man who incarnates the Noble Feeling.War. Camus's life . are secondary to the ability or inability to feel. more than a response to it or a solution of it. or to refrain from acting. the noble feeling. this disjunction is precisely the subject of Camus's fiction and philosophical essays. This is exactly right. stoical. whose general political and moral outlook was so close to that of Camus and Sartre. It is a transendence of the event. In a perceptive review of one of Camus's books some years ago. Camus's work reveals a temperament in search of a situation. It is a harsh irony that both MerleauPonty. as distinct from the Noble Act. It means that action is not Camus's first concern. were in a position to lead French intellectuals of conscience to the inevitable stand. is not genuinely linked to the event. the only stand. and does not mean that there was some sort of hypocrisy in Camus's morality. the one everyone hoped Camus would take. Indeed.
A cigarette dangles between the lips. cool and serene. It is repeatedly inaccurate. I am sorry to have to say. rough. And his ability to suffer this pathos in a dignified and virile way is what made his readers love and admire him. lean. and in the voice. and very eloquent style. good-looking but not too good-looking. the expression both intense and modest. In the Notebooks 1935-34. of the famous essays. his admirers will naturally hope to find a generous sense of the man and the work which has moved them. who was so strongly loved and yet so little known.and work are not so much about morality as they are about the pathos of moral positions. whether he wears a trench-coat. There is something disembodied in Camus's fiction. despite the unforgettable photographs. It is in many ways an almost ideal face: boyish. the first three volumes to be published comprising the notebooks which Camus kept from 1935 until his death. It is heavyhanded. first of all. sometimes to the point of seriously miscontinuing Camus's sense. with their beautifully informal presence. Again one comes back to the man. or a business suit. a sweater and open shirt. The book also has an . This pathos is Camus's modernity. off-hand. This. that the translation by Philip Thody is poor work. and quite fails to find the equivalent in English to Camus's compressed. One wants to know this man.
(For an idea of how Camus should sound in English. These sections of the Notebooks are sketchy stuff. scraps of overheard conversation. or more interesting either. and for that reason I doubt if they will be terribly exciting event to aficonados of Camus's fiction. The Notebooks also contain a miscellany of reading . like those of Kafka and Gide. the human density of Gide's Journals. ideas for stories. were first jotted down.obtrusive academic apparatus which may not annoy some readers. Thody. can make the Notebooks less interesting than they are. These are not great literary journals. They are comparable. I suggest that curious readers look up the accurate and sensitive translation by Anthony Hartley of sections of the Notebooks which appeared in Encounter two years ago.) It is great pity about the translation. say to the Diaries of Cesare Pavese. except that they lack the element of personal exposure. the artistic diligence. despite me zealous annotation and correlation with the published works supplied by Mr. Yet no translation. in which phrases. it did annoy me. They lack the cultural sophistication. They are literary work-books. They do not have the white-hot intellectual brilliance of Kafka's Diaries. of psychological intimacy. and sometimes whole paragraphs which were later incorporated into novels and essays. quarries for his writings. Camus's Notebooks contain an assortment of things. whether faithful or tone-deaf.
when reading the Notebooks. Impersonality is perhaps the most telling things about Camus's Notebooks. The young Camus writes as a French Nietzsche. The Notebooks. one might better describe them— of a markedly impersonal nature. And lastly. a man deranged by German philosophy belatedly converting to AngloSaxon empiricism and common sense under the name of "Mediterranean" virtue. It is hard to remember. stoical where Nietzsche is outraged. impersonal and objective in tone where Nietzsche is personal and subjective to the point of mania. at least this first volume. melancholy where Nietzsche is savage. that Camus was a mn who had a very interesting life. the Notebooks are full of personal comments—declarations and resolutions. etc. There is scarcely anything of this life in the Notebooks. Renaissance history. they are so anti-autobiographical. a life (unlike that of many writers) interesting not only in an interior but also in an outward sense. They are worth reading. and they might help dispel one current image of Camus—according to which he was a sort of Raymond Aron.notes (Spengler. Some of these reflections have a great deal of boldness and finesse. There is nothing about his . exude an endearing atmosphere of domesticated Nietzscheanism.) of a rather limited range—the vast reading that went into writing The Rebel is certainly not recorded here—and a number of apercus and reflections on psychological and moral themes.
a writer's journal must not be judged by the standards of a diary. and competely exclude the events and the people in his life. That is why all the personal comments in Camus's Notebooks are of so impersonal a nature. struggling being. his first and second marriages. piece by piece. Neither is there any mention of the events which took place in this period: his work with the Theatre de 1'Equipe. The notebooks of a writer have a very special function: in them he builds up. but even to as sociable and socially conscientious a man as Camus. Of course. not only to self-declared emotional misfits like Pavese. The journal is where a writer is heroic to himself. the will to love. the identity of a writer to himself. In this he is being very much the writer. his career as an editor of a leftwing Algerian newspaper. Typically.family. writers' notebooks are crammed with statements about the will: the will to write. while absorbing reading. sun-andsea worshippers. suffering. his membership in the Communist Party. and walker in the world. Camus writes about himself only as a solitary—a solitary reader. do not resolve the question of Camus's . to whom he was closely attached. In it he exists solely as a perceiving. Thus the Notebooks. Solitariness is the indispensable metaphor of the modern writer's consciousness. the will to go on living. the will to renounce love. voyeur.
"the admirable conjunction of a man. 2009. It would have been an important and happy occurrence if Camus's Notebooks had survived their author to give us more than they do of the man. but unfortunately they do not. action. Camus was. Inc." Today only the work remains. Please contact web@nybooks. . The cover date of the next issue will be January 15.permanent stature nor deepen our sense of him as a man. in the words of Sartre. All rights reserved. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. and of a work. of an action. cannot be wholly reconstituted by the work alone. and work inspired in the minds and hearts of his thousands of readers and admirers. And whatever that conjunction of man.com with any questions about this site. NYREV. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Little Bookroom / Pudlo France Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008.
1963 The Eichmann Question By George Lichtheim The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann by Moishe Pearlman Simon Schuster. and a fresh storm promised when The Vicar reaches London and New York.95 The Eichmann trial has become the focus of a controversy which transcends national and religious frontiers. In Germany the issue has recently been given an extra dimension by the storm over Hochhuth's play.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. from the publication of Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem. With the German Episcopate up in arms over this play. . especially in the United States. who is represented as indifferent to the massacre of the Jews and solely concerned with stemming the menacing flood of Communism. as it soon will. 666 pp. The Vicar: an impassioned indictment of the Vatican's wartime policy of silence. both the critics and the public have something bigger to think about than the controversy over the alleged failure of the various Jewish organizations to resist or sabotage Hitler's "final solution" which has followed. $8.. and especially of Pope Pius XII. Number 3 · September 26.
Against this background the question whether the Jews might have done more to save themselves falls into place as a problem of the second order. and doubtless to the American too. but most Germans still remember wartime sermons exhorting both Catholics and Protestants to fight the Red menace. It would be agreeable to be able to add that German public opinion as a whole was shocked. Now that Christian Democracy is in the saddle all over Western Europe. Hochhuth happens to be a Lutheran.Cardinal Montini (as he then still was) doubtless knew what he was doing last June when. these memories are both embarrassing and slightly unreal. the Jewish catastrophe becomes a fairly typical chapter in recent European history. which may be the reason that news of the controversy came as a surprise to the British public. with a pained and angry defense of his predecessor. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement Looked at in this way. but the burden of his charge—that to the Curia the Jews seemed expendable—has already evoked an embarrassed echo among some German Catholic intellectuals. in what turned out to be almost his final public act before ascending the papal throne. The Tablet. Or so it seems to people . he intervened in the columns of the London Catholic weekly. account being taken of such trial exercises as the Turkish massacre of the Armenians during and after the First World War.
being part of Europe). such as the notion that. At the core of this mythology one is not surprised to encounter the consoling belief that the murder of some four to six million Jews—mostly in Eastern Europe—was experienced as a dreadful crime by the surrounding peoples. for the purpose of this argument.in Europe (Britain. It is to Hannah Arendt's credit that she has dealt ruthlessly with these and other sentimental fancies. The case is evidently different for Americans. Even if she had stuck more closely to what might be called her brief— chiefly the massive documentation provided in Raul Hilberg's Destruction of the European Jews—it is certain there would have been an outcry. . and a fortiori for American Jews who have hitherto compensated an uneasy sense of guilt by a resolute attachment to heroic myths. there are other bits and pieces. Which is precisely why it should be thought about. The truth. That. even minus her exaggerations. is not what the row is about. the Germans are now truly sorry. simply does not bear thinking about. having learned the truth at long last. however. Allied to this central piece of myth-making. whereas in prosaic fact most of them are sorry only for themselves. whereas the truth is that most of them welcomed it and did nothing whatever to help the victims. though in the process she has occasionally succumbed to the temptation of emptying the baby out along with the bath.
Compared with this subversive thought—which millions of people once under the German heel (not to mention the Germans themselves) know to be substantially true—her minor infelicities pale. but only as inexplicable departures from the normal. such as fairness or unfairness to individuals or the Jewish Councils in occupied Europe. but then he is in good company. In their eyes Miss Arendt's real crime is her suggestion that Eichmann may indeed have been a fairly average murder specialist and by implication a fairly representative specimen of his generation. Even the occasional touch of malice. An outsider such as the present reviewer is not obliged to comment on Mr. Justice Musmanno's pompous rebuke to Miss Arendt in the New York Times and the ensuing correspondence. The question is whether her account of the great catastrophe is substantially true to the facts of European . or at any rate in numerous company.Clearly this particular debate will have to go on for quite some time. a more important question than her even entire groups of people. It would indeed be difficult to miss the point of her book more completely than was done by Judge Musmanno. in her treatment of the Zionists (which some critics have rightly singled out for condemnation) becomes a secondary matter.g. e. after all. One may suspect that the bien-pensants are not going to abandon their traditional image of a world in which terrible things do indeed happen from time to time. There is.
who were after all simply trying to save lives (and getting precious little help from the Allies). It thus seems extravagant to suggest that the Jews in Eastern Europe would have done better had they possessed no communal organization at all. and because quite a number of otherwise respectable people felt in the privacy of their souls that Hitler was doing their dirty work for them. All this is not to deny that Miss Aren't work exhibits some characteristic faults of tone and substance. In most other respects the indictment stands. In addition to her systematic unfairness to the Zionists. there is her failure to point out that in Southern Russia.history as they were experienced by millions of people between 1933 and 1945. To the question why more Jews were not saved. where the Jews were totally unorganized. and on this score it seems to the reviewer that she can be faulted only for not being harsher on the Allies and certain neutrals. . Still. the disaster was on a scale paralleled only in Poland. the simple answer must be: because no one cared sufficiently. No doubt they thought they had no choice but to cooperate. One is less inclined to blame her for what she says about some of the Jewish Councils in Western Europe. notably by Lionel Abel in a long and trenchant essay in the Partisan Review. These have been duly underscored by her critics.
Pearlman. Quite early on. His approach to the subject is one familiar to connoisseurs of pulp fiction. has manufactured an officially sponsored account of the Eichmann trial which combines vulgarity and triviality in about equal proportions. after closing their offices and destroying their records. though one may suppose that his style has been consciously formed upon more ambitious models. even though it may be said in extenuation that the collapse of 1940 had temporarily turned most Europeans into "collaborators. seasoned with occasional flights into pseudo-history. and by then Anne Frank and her parents had long been deported. a hard-working journalist and an Israeli public-relations officer." It took years of Nazi savagery to produce a really violent and widespread popular revulsion. To turn from these considerations to Mr.considering that—to take one example—some twenty thousand Jews survived in Holland by "going underground. Pearlman's confections is to descend from tragedy to farce. A "failure of nerve" which helped to bring about the total catastrophe of the historic Jewish communities of Europe must not be passed over in silence. Mr. Leon Uris. instead of setting themselves up as an utterly useless buffer between their charges and the Germans. such as the thrillerromances of Mr." one does not quite see why the twenty or so officials of the Jewish community could not have done the same. the .
Between the two of them. was a leader without a state.reader is introduced to a specimen which may stand for all the rest: "Adolf Eichman—that's the man who must be brought to justice if he is still alive. shortly after the war. And so on. is to acknowledge at once his own considerable talents in this genre and the help he was indirectly afforded by the organizers of the trial. punctuating each with a fist-rap on the table. To say that Mr. Hausner. There are several hundred pages of this sort of thing. The year was 1945. Pearlman has succeeded in the almost impossible task of reducing the Jewish catastrophe to the level of a Hollywood scenario. which was to end fifteen years later in a South American shantytown." The man who thundered these words. silverhaloed David Ben-Gurion. is Israel's Attorney General. not surprisingly. Thus started the search for Eichmann. One of his heroes. they pretty well succeed in emptying the Eichmann trial of . Mr. destined to become Israel's first Prime Minister. whose fatuous rhetoric is here reported with the reverence to be expected from a fellow artist. head of the Jews in Palestine and of the World Zionist Movement. interspersed with bits of potted history and carefully chosen extracts from the Jerusalem Court proceedings.
There is material here for reflection on the morality of an age too numbed by successive horrors to make more than the ritual obeisance to established standards. On balance. In short. are or them dogmas not to be questioned. a criminal mastermind whom it was possible to contemplate with mingled awe and repugnance. That was to be expected. merely stupefaction or indifference. initiated and organized.) But once the Attorney General had been let loose on this subject there was no holding him. and the consequent validation of the Zionist view of Jewish history as an unbroken record of disaster providentially ended by the founding of Israel. who instructed others to spill this ocean of blood…" as Mr. What we might have been spared was the artificial inflation of Eichmann to world-historical proportions: successor to "those classic figures of barbarism. Hitler's lineal descent from Pharaoh. Nero Attila. Genghis Khan…. and the ensuing absurdities were lapped up by a world-wide audience grateful for the chance thus offered to unload its own guilt-feelings upon the monster in the dock: "…the one who planned. Hausner puts it. To the rest of the world Eichmann was that familiar figure.whatever sense and dignity it might otherwise have possessed. the trial ." (Pearlman dixit. To the Germans in particular this aspect of the indictment came as a heavensent distraction from the theme of collective responsibility. there was no catharis.
where it simply failed to have any resonance at all—quickly established itself as an individual's expiation for the sins of an entire continent. safe in the knowledge that the moral order is still intact. The arch-fiend had been duly punished. email icon Email to a friend Notes  Viking Press. In a morality play the curtain has to come down on the destruction of evil. That in so doing it missed an opportunity to transcend its own parochialism must be counted among the major lost opportunities of this age. and life could go on.helped a lot of people to get over whatever qualms they may still have felt. Whatever the trial may have signified to Israelis. To this end it was important that Eichmann should be made to bear the largest possible load of what might otherwise have been recognized as collective responsibility. 1963 . its meaning for the rest of the world— barring those countries outside the JewishChristian-Islamie orbit. It was hardly possible for the Court in Jerusalem not to sentence Eichmann to die. No need to emphasize that this reassurance was and is of special importance to a civilization vaguely conscious of its religious roots and of Christianity's ambiguous relationship to its parent religion. as the guillotine comes down on the neck of the evil-doer: only then can the audience rise reassured.
 Summer. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. 2009. NYREV. Number 3 · September 26. Inc. $8.. 666 pp. All rights reserved. Please contact web@nybooks. The Vicar: an . In Germany the issue has recently been given an extra dimension by the storm over Hochhuth's play. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15.com with any questions about this site.95 The Eichmann trial has become the focus of a controversy which transcends national and religious frontiers. 1963 Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. 1963 The Eichmann Question By George Lichtheim The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann by Moishe Pearlman Simon Schuster. The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1.
but most Germans still remember wartime sermons exhorting both Catholics and Protestants to fight the Red menace. from the publication of Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem. and a fresh storm promised when The Vicar reaches London and New York. Hochhuth happens to be a Lutheran. The Tablet. who is represented as indifferent to the massacre of the Jews and solely concerned with stemming the menacing flood of Communism. especially in the United States. It would be agreeable to be able to add that German public opinion as a whole was shocked. with a pained and angry defense of his predecessor. as it soon will. both the critics and the public have something bigger to think about than the controversy over the alleged failure of the various Jewish organizations to resist or sabotage Hitler's "final solution" which has followed. Cardinal Montini (as he then still was) doubtless knew what he was doing last June when. and especially of Pope Pius XII. but the burden of his charge—that to the Curia the Jews seemed expendable—has already evoked an embarrassed echo among some German Catholic intellectuals. With the German Episcopate up in arms over this play. Now that Christian Democracy is in . he intervened in the columns of the London Catholic weekly. in what turned out to be almost his final public act before ascending the papal throne.impassioned indictment of the Vatican's wartime policy of silence.
account being taken of such trial exercises as the Turkish massacre of the Armenians during and after the First World War. At the core of this mythology one is not surprised to encounter the consoling belief that the murder of some four to six million Jews—mostly in Eastern Europe—was experienced as a dreadful crime by the surrounding peoples. these memories are both embarrassing and slightly unreal. there are other bits and pieces. Or so it seems to people in Europe (Britain. the Jewish catastrophe becomes a fairly typical chapter in recent European history. and doubtless to the American too.the saddle all over Western Europe. having learned the truth at long last. whereas the truth is that most of them welcomed it and did nothing whatever to help the victims. which may be the reason that news of the controversy came as a surprise to the British public. such as the notion that. Allied to this central piece of myth-making. for the purpose of this argument. being part of Europe). the Germans are now truly sorry. and a fortiori for American Jews who have hitherto compensated an uneasy sense of guilt by a resolute attachment to heroic myths. Against this background the question whether the Jews might have done more to save themselves falls into place as a problem of the second order. The case is evidently different for Americans. Frederick Douglass Book Prize Announcement Looked at in this way. whereas in .
however. An outsider such as the present reviewer is not obliged to comment on Mr.prosaic fact most of them are sorry only for themselves. Clearly this particular debate will have to go on for quite some time. but then he is in good company. One may suspect that the bien-pensants are not going to abandon their traditional image of a world in which terrible things do indeed happen from time to time. It would indeed be difficult to miss the point of her book more completely than was done by Judge Musmanno. The truth. It is to Hannah Arendt's credit that she has dealt ruthlessly with these and other sentimental fancies. though in the process she has occasionally succumbed to the temptation of emptying the baby out along with the bath. Justice Musmanno's pompous rebuke to Miss Arendt in the New York Times and the ensuing correspondence. even minus her exaggerations. Which is precisely why it should be thought about. is not what the row is about. Even if she had stuck more closely to what might be called her brief— chiefly the massive documentation provided in Raul Hilberg's Destruction of the European Jews—it is certain there would have been an outcry. or at any rate in numerous company. That. In their eyes Miss Arendt's real crime is her suggestion that Eichmann may indeed have been a fairly . but only as inexplicable departures from the normal. simply does not bear thinking about.
To the question why more Jews were not saved. in her treatment of the Zionists (which some critics have rightly singled out for condemnation) becomes a secondary matter. and on this score it seems to the reviewer that she can be faulted only for not being harsher on the Allies and certain neutrals.g. notably by Lionel Abel in a long . a more important question than her even entire groups of people. such as fairness or unfairness to individuals or the Jewish Councils in occupied Europe. the simple answer must be: because no one cared sufficiently.average murder specialist and by implication a fairly representative specimen of his generation. There is. e. The question is whether her account of the great catastrophe is substantially true to the facts of European history as they were experienced by millions of people between 1933 and 1945. and because quite a number of otherwise respectable people felt in the privacy of their souls that Hitler was doing their dirty work for them. These have been duly underscored by her critics. Compared with this subversive thought—which millions of people once under the German heel (not to mention the Germans themselves) know to be substantially true—her minor infelicities pale. In most other respects the indictment stands. Even the occasional touch of malice. All this is not to deny that Miss Aren't work exhibits some characteristic faults of tone and substance. after all.
A "failure of nerve" which helped to bring about the total catastrophe of the historic Jewish communities of Europe must not be passed over in silence. the disaster was on a scale paralleled only in Poland. instead of setting themselves up as an utterly useless buffer between their charges and the Germans." one does not quite see why the twenty or so officials of the Jewish community could not have done the same. after closing their offices and destroying their records. even though it may be said in extenuation that the collapse of 1940 had temporarily turned most Europeans into "collaborators. In addition to her systematic unfairness to the Zionists.and trenchant essay in the Partisan Review. who were after all simply trying to save lives (and getting precious little help from the Allies). there is her failure to point out that in Southern Russia. considering that—to take one example—some twenty thousand Jews survived in Holland by "going underground. No doubt they thought they had no choice but to cooperate. where the Jews were totally unorganized." It took years of Nazi savagery to produce a really violent and widespread popular revulsion. One is less inclined to blame her for what she says about some of the Jewish Councils in Western Europe. and . It thus seems extravagant to suggest that the Jews in Eastern Europe would have done better had they possessed no communal organization at all. Still.
. To turn from these considerations to Mr. seasoned with occasional flights into pseudo-history." The man who thundered these words. Quite early on. which was to end fifteen years later in a South American shantytown. punctuating each with a fist-rap on the table. head of the Jews in Palestine and of the World Zionist Movement. such as the thrillerromances of Mr. was a leader without a state. The year was 1945. Pearlman. Pearlman's confections is to descend from tragedy to farce. His approach to the subject is one familiar to connoisseurs of pulp fiction. has manufactured an officially sponsored account of the Eichmann trial which combines vulgarity and triviality in about equal proportions. silverhaloed David Ben-Gurion. though one may suppose that his style has been consciously formed upon more ambitious models. destined to become Israel's first Prime Minister. the reader is introduced to a specimen which may stand for all the rest: "Adolf Eichman—that's the man who must be brought to justice if he is still alive. Mr. a hard-working journalist and an Israeli public-relations officer. Thus started the search for Eichmann. shortly after the war. Leon Uris.by then Anne Frank and her parents had long been deported.
interspersed with bits of potted history and carefully chosen extracts from the Jerusalem Court proceedings. is Israel's Attorney General. That was to be expected.And so on. is to acknowledge at once his own considerable talents in this genre and the help he was indirectly afforded by the organizers of the trial. they pretty well succeed in emptying the Eichmann trial of whatever sense and dignity it might otherwise have possessed. Between the two of them. are or them dogmas not to be questioned. What we might have been spared was the artificial inflation of Eichmann to world-historical proportions: successor to "those classic figures of barbarism. Mr. Hitler's lineal descent from Pharaoh. not surprisingly. There are several hundred pages of this sort of thing. Genghis Khan….) But once the Attorney General had been let loose on this subject there was no holding him. Nero Attila. Pearlman has succeeded in the almost impossible task of reducing the Jewish catastrophe to the level of a Hollywood scenario. One of his heroes." (Pearlman dixit. To say that Mr. and the ensuing absurdities were lapped up by a world-wide audience grateful for the chance thus offered to unload its own guilt-feelings upon the . Hausner. and the consequent validation of the Zionist view of Jewish history as an unbroken record of disaster providentially ended by the founding of Israel. whose fatuous rhetoric is here reported with the reverence to be expected from a fellow artist.
There is material here for reflection on the morality of an age too numbed by successive horrors to make more than the ritual obeisance to established standards. who instructed others to spill this ocean of blood…" as Mr.monster in the dock: "…the one who planned. On balance. The arch-fiend had been duly punished. there was no catharis. a criminal mastermind whom it was possible to contemplate with mingled awe and repugnance. initiated and organized. In a morality play the curtain has to come down on the destruction of evil. To the rest of the world Eichmann was that familiar figure. and life could go on. as the guillotine comes down on the neck of the evil-doer: only then . In short. To the Germans in particular this aspect of the indictment came as a heavensent distraction from the theme of collective responsibility. where it simply failed to have any resonance at all—quickly established itself as an individual's expiation for the sins of an entire continent. Hausner puts it. To this end it was important that Eichmann should be made to bear the largest possible load of what might otherwise have been recognized as collective responsibility. its meaning for the rest of the world— barring those countries outside the JewishChristian-Islamie orbit. merely stupefaction or indifference. Whatever the trial may have signified to Israelis. the trial helped a lot of people to get over whatever qualms they may still have felt.
safe in the knowledge that the moral order is still intact. Please contact web@nybooks. NYREV. 2009. All rights reserved. email icon Email to a friend Notes  Viking Press. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. It was hardly possible for the Court in Jerusalem not to sentence Eichmann to die.can the audience rise reassured. . No need to emphasize that this reassurance was and is of special importance to a civilization vaguely conscious of its religious roots and of Christianity's ambiguous relationship to its parent religion. That in so doing it missed an opportunity to transcend its own parochialism must be counted among the major lost opportunities of this age. 1963 Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. Inc.com with any questions about this site. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. 1963  Summer.
00 The New Face of Soviet Totalitarianism by Adam B. Ulam Harvard. 684 pp. Braverman is certainly more courageous than most of us.95 Prediction in politics is a dangerous pastime." he tells us. One has to be very bold to engage in it. "The most characteristic Western view of the Soviet Union." But where is this extraordinary view to .. $8. 233 pp.. What puzzles me is whom he is trying to convince.. Number 3 · September 26. $4. 1963 Inside the Whale By Leonard Schapiro The Future of Russia by Harry Braverman Macmillan. He tells us what Russia is going to be like. and no nonsense about it.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. "sees it as a fixed and immobile dictatorship which will never change until compelled to do so by an external force. or perhaps the boldness comes from a failure to realize all the pitfalls. Mr. $5. 192 pp.95 How Russia Is Ruled by Merle Fainsod Harvard University Press.
the skill with which it maneuvers to keep the kind of monopoly of power which neither logic nor reason justifies. The trouble with this kind of economic determinism is that forty-six years of Soviet rule have conclusively proved the primacy of politics over economics—there is no reason to suppose that this primacy will disappear in the future. for example. and they are the most likely readers of a book of this kind. in the past ten years. scarcely any informed student of the Soviet Union who is unaware of the major changes in the U. . rationality. after all. Braverman believes. so long as the Communist Party remains in power. for Mr.R. Braverman does not take into account—the personality of the next autocrat. which Mr. that the economic development of the Soviet Union will inevitably bring in its train greater liberty.S. That is not to say that there will be no development—after ten years of continuous change further modifications of the system can confidently be expected. They may be in the direction foreseen by Mr. But they will depend on quite different factors —the need of the party to adapt to the requirements of a modern society. Braverman's book.S. no doubt—but they are extremely unlikely to read Mr. They will find a highly optimistic projection of the Russia of the future. as do many others. and a whole lot of quite unpredictable human factors. Braverman—or they may not. There can be. and general relaxation.be found? Among millions of readers of tabloid newspapers.
and presumably wrongly.S." The seven articles of which this book is composed (six of them reprinted from previous publications) deal with different facets of change or contrast. This is indeed sound Leninism—it even has a grand name. NYRB Holiday Sale Professor Ulam. but sputniks which enhance the reputation of Marxism-Leninism. In his last essay he uses with effect Boccaccio's story of the Jew who is converted to Christianity by a visit to Rome: the conditions which he finds there convince him that if anything so venal and corrupt can survive at all at the head of a religious movement the future must lie with it. as he puts it. rightly or wrongly. "in certain political trends the inevitability of the future. It is not Marxism-Leninism which produces sputniks. This seems to me to be sound political analysis. One of the changes which he discusses in several essays is the decline or even death of ideology: he believes Marxism to be a spent force as a doctrine. attributed to it.in a country in which this factor has for centuries been predominant in political life. the "unity of theory and practice.R." It has led many scholars (including Professor Ulam in an earlier book) to the conclusion that Leninism is not so much an adaptation of . but drawing new strength from practical successes which are.S.. though also much concerned with the changes which are taking place in the U. more wisely avoids the pitfalls of seeing.
These and many other similar dilemmas underlie the new form of Soviet totalitarianism. as Professor Ulam says. and pose the problems which. however. it faces in groping.Marx's analysis of society as a good system for rapidly industrializing backward countries. with its extended monopoly not only of power. Most of these sensible and wellwritten essays are. This is where rationality comes into conflict with power—and it is a bold man who is prepared to assume that the party. to place too much political power in their hands. Professor Ulam (unlike Mr. Khrushchev is presumably aware of this. with one-fifth of the Soviet agricultural labor force. from its own point of view. Mr. But to give the Soviet farms the kind of incentives and freedom which would encourage increase of production would be. concerned to gauge the extent to which the Soviet Union has evolved since the death of Stalin. Soviet agriculture is perhaps the most striking example of the way in which rationality is sacrificed in the interests of power. according to deep-rooted Soviet convictions. Braverman) tries to show the limits within which evolution is possible. 60 per cent more products than the Soviet Union on an area only two thirds the Soviet sown acreage. will readily yield up power in the interests of a more rational life. so long as the party retains the kind of power which it shows every intention of retaining. "to retain mastery . United States farming produces. but of administrative techniques.
have been supplemented and enlarged in the light of new information and sources. one hopes.over a changing society. the party. The original education appeared in 1954. The four parts. Here. with a mastery of sources. without doubt. dealing with history. enlarged by over a hundred pages. the system of rule. There must be many teachers of Soviet government." Professor Fainsod's classic work is. The last three parts have been brought up to date by the inclusion of developments since the death of Stalin. with a fairness and a sense of the essential. like myself. Generations of students in many countries have been trained on this magnificent work. The familiar shape of the book is unchanged. which put all other books in this field out of countenance. the revised Fainsod will take its place as the most up-to-date handbook for reference and. who feel that this new edition has solved a problem for them. in journalism. takes account of changes up to the end of 1962. The merits of the book are so outstanding that they need no praise from me—the analysis unfolds with a lucidity and balance. close study. in politics. . the most important single book ever to have been written on the government of the Soviet Union. This revised edition. and the problems which arise in the management of industry and agriculture. In public life. which has stood impregnable against criticism for nine years.
Braverman.therefore. is a complete study of the most durable of modern totalitarian systems this book.S.? Professor Fainsod is much too good a political scientist to indulge in prophecy. especially in his last chapter. the better the party succeeds in its materialist promises. Like Professor Ulam. rather than to prophecies. the less risk there will be of erosion of its power. which is a sobering corrective to much facile optimism which is abroad these days. It is to what is going to happen in the U.R. But he provides. entitled "The Soviet Political System— Problems and Prospects." some of the basic realities which must be taken into account before even intelligent guesswork (which he leaves to others) becomes possible. is really only another aspect of Professor Ulam's view. contemporary phase—the phase of evolution after the stagnation of naked terror. that material success is the greatest bulwark of the system. On the contrary.S. This view. . Professor Fainsod sees the decline of ideological fervor—but he warns against any facile assumptions that the party leadership is likely to cast the whole structure overboard. that one should turn in search of the answer to the question which fascinates us all—including its most difficult. Unlike Mr. he does not see any necessary connection between improved economic prosperity and greater liberty.
without which the whole unwieldy structure would probably grind to a standstill. But speculation which fails to take this basic factor of Soviet political tradition into account ignores the reality which Professor Fainsod's pages so eloquently depict. and all is largely unpredictable. and "pressure by technocrats". A new generation of leaders may in time adopt a different tradition. and the other familiar gambits of the many who speculate on the future of Soviet power begin to fall into proportion. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search . speculation about "erosion" of party power. This means in practice an indefinable habit of reliance on more or less arbitrary constant manipulation behind the scenes of the formal and usually quite chaotic business of government which appears on the surface. or lack the skill to maintain the old.The conclusion with which one emerges from re-reading this book (apart from a renewed sense of its outstanding qualities) is that what matters most in politics is built-in tradition. Once this fact is grasped. This tradition in the Soviet Union is party rule. Of course there will be change—there may be gradual evolution or there may be drastic change. All is possible. It means government by the party secretary's telephone.
2009.com with any questions about this site. All rights reserved.HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. . Inc. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Please contact web@nybooks. NYREV.
$6. For most of the luncheon not much was said. but France has many other fine writers. This was some years back. I think. and the editors of Partisan Review asked me to a luncheon for him. at the start.. 1963 The Genius of Jean Genet By Lionel Abel Jean GenetJean Genet by David Levine Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet. Sartre responded swiftly: "Camus is a very fine writer. then too. or what his philosophy could mean in this country. Sartre wanted to feel out what we. the Americans. Sartre was visiting New York. Camus is .The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. if I remember rightly. because of the language difficulty—our French was labored and uncertain. the conversation went haltingly until I said something about Camus. were not at all sure about the existentialist views he had proclaimed. Number 4 · October 17. were like—especially what our attitude was to him. and Sartre did not know English at all. in 1947. translated by Bernard Frechtman Grove Press. who was already enjoying a great vogue here. mainly. for our part. and we.50 It was from Sartre that I first heard of Jean Genet. Anyway. 256 pp. or to us.
we wanted to know. notably Sartre himself and Jean Cocteau. I suppose. For Sartre. is himself when he praises or decries.) Sartre talked of Genet's life: a foundling. (With about twenty-seven convictions to his credit. he needs moral pretexts to show his wit. Genet. it seems to me. and there was certainly ." (I see from Sartre's book. he had been sent to a reformatory at a very early age. just out in English translation. then to Rimbaud. But Sartre spoke most convincingly.not a great writer." After which Sartre went on to speak of Genet. his eloquence. when told that someone we do not know is great. a thief. brought up by foster parents. would have been sentenced to prison for life had not French writers. after that he had resolutely embraced a life of crime: he was a hoodlum." Who was that. And there was no question about his loyal support of the writer almost none of us knew at the time. and suddenly became himself. a male whore. Saint Genet. "There is only one genius in France today. not a genius. obtained a pardon for him from the President of the Republic. that he has changed his mind about Genet's forerunners and now places him in the line of Baudelaire and Mallarmé.) We all tend to be incredulous." He added. and even intimated that Genet was the greatest of the three—also the most "accursed. Sartre's answer was: "Jean Genet. we could not but be impressed when he compared Genet to Lautréaumont. under French law.
is not Descartes. mind you. in Paris. But by Genet's . The style of Bossuet. the surge of Bossuet. and whore. and a witty French priest retorted: "But Genet is very seventeenth-century. At a party I repeated Sartre's mot. no. I had read a novel or two by Genet and also seen a play of his." NYR Holiday Subscription Special The style of Descartes? Years after that luncheon. I still could not understand why Sartre had thought of comparing his style with that of the seventeenth-century philosopher. Of Genet he said: "He has the style of Descartes. I still see no reason to compare Genet with the celebrated churchman. unless made by a priest. or even better. My priest did as well." Would I have to hear Genet compared to Pascal. when." and then went on to compare in detail the prose of the seventeenth-century churchman and orator with that of the modern hoodlum.something about Genet's story which suggested that he might be another Lautréaumont. But then Sartre made a remark which startled me. thief. even a Rimbaud. Of Genet's style he said: "It has the tone. the rhythm. and he has the style of its greatest writer—who. But I am now convinced that Sartre was perfectly right in linking Genet with Descartes: the insight is one of his most brilliant hits. I thought people in Paris were losing their heads over Genet. Nor can I see any wit in the comparison. I wondered.
" Our Lady of the Flowers. Genet's prose is almost always dressed up—often in drag. I should say. even describing it as "false. one which I personally do not share. the book of Genet which best reveals his style of thinking. in his book on Genet. Sartre himself has called attention to the ornateness with which Genet in A Thief's Journal writes of Bulkaen's behind: "Son postérieur était un reposoir. It is a style of thinking which derives its order and ." ("His behind was an altar. written in the prison of La Fresne. Genet's first novel." which he admires. I think here Sartre has yielded to a very French view. when speaking of Genet's "style." which he criticizes.") In fact." Why false? Apparently because it is interfused with poetry—according to Sartre. in its sumptuousness. which.style Sartre could not possibly have meant Genet's prose. since Faulkner was great—is also. So Sartre must have had in mind Genet's style of thinking when he said of the writer: "He has the style of Descartes. is utterly unlike the austere—and so affecting because unornamented—prose of the great Descartes. Sartre makes a very pejorative judgment of Genet's prose. Perhaps Alain said it best for all who hold this view: True prose must be "poetry refused. Sartre could hardly have meant Genet's "prose. its poetry corrodes and corrupts this prose. and certainly a masterpiece—the greatest novel." In any case. to my mind.
for me. at least. he tried to set up. though. and who has the advantage. a world shared.assumptions from the "I"—the style first taught by Descartes. the efforts of Husserl and Genet are not at all dissimilar. About the Meditations: In this work the German thinker attempted the perhaps impossible task of scaffolding our common world on the structures of the solitary ego. Was not his common world rather like the brothel designed by Leonardo. to connect Genet with Descartes through still another writer—one not too well known in this country. like Genet. but perhaps the greatest and most original of all Cartesians. with any novel. Now Husserl's effort has been called a failure. of being. within the confines of the self. a modern: the philosopher Edmund Husserl. all scientific communication could rest. However. in turn. composed mainly of lectures he gave at the Sorbonne. let alone a novel apparently at such a remove from questions of theory as the one written by Jean Genet in the prison of La Fresne. I have chosen. or sharable. which each client could enter and quit without the risk of meeting any other client? For there seems little "danger" of the ego's meeting another ego in the maze of Husserl's Meditatious. with other selves—on which public world. Now it may seem strange to compare a purely theoretical work like Husserl's Cartesian Meditations. Just the same it remains one of the seminal works of this century. I .
Genet. The German thinker began with solipsism. male whores and pimps.heard the French philosopher Jean Wahl say of it: "Husserl's Cartesian adventure failed. Moreover. Sartre calls the novel "an epic of masturbation. an epic long-lasting. I think. a wrong impression of it: an erection is brief. According to Sartre  . begins." I cannot agree. but it was also his method and means. which he had known. has never before been described by any writer: . to my knowledge. And in order to make masturbation effective he calls up images of the pimps. it is about all those figures Genet could make real to himself while masturbating. isolated on his prison bed. with narcissism: Genet is masturbating. and finally into the actual social world of criminals and homosexuals. Masturbation was his aim and end. the book is not about masturbation." Our Lady of the Flowers is not a failure. and criminals he has known or imagined himself to be. This world. But what I must explain is how this novel about homosexuals and criminals suggests comparison with Husserl's Meditations. as radically. by it he elaborated his personal world into one he could share sexually with others." But then he added: "Like all great enterprises. and the word "epic" gives. whores. so single was Genet's interest in getting sexual satisfaction while writing this book that the measure of his interest in each of his characters was solely whether he could keep an erection. The novel is purely lyrical.
the novelist. the French society of his time? Proust did indeed begin with his impressions. a spontaneity—a sweetness. even— scarcely approached by those novelists who describe the world "objectively. though a beautiful . succeeded." But did not Proust begin as radically. in any case. out of his sensations and memories. out of the very substantial sexual pleasure he took in remembering and contemplating it. Now Genet—at least in Our Lady of the Flowers —never reads like Balzac. even when describing "objectively" the criminal and homosexual hierarchy he knew. Genet always seems most intent on remembering his own homosexuality. his own crimes. where Husserl. and constitute. the philosopher failed? Let me make myself clear on this point: Our Lady of the Flowers. with his own impressions. but out of these he wrought only those characters who could move him deeply. but always like Genet. the French society of his time he described objectively. It may be asked: If Husserl could not make of the private self the architect of a world with others in it. Thus it is that the social world of homosexuals and criminals of Our Lady of the Flowers has a freshness. then how was Genet on his narcissist's couch able to construct such a world? Can it be said that Genet. Often Proust reads like Balzac.Genet in his novel constitutes it for us almost out of his own substance.
. until all that would remain of me would be a ball of eaten thing which little by little would be annihilated: This is how I see the end of the world. the world of criminals and pederasts. and The Red and the Black. by objectifying. War and Peace. given its method of composition. And Genet's novel would have to be as inclusive and universal as these to seriously challenge "objective" thinking—even in literature. does not merit comparison with such works as The Human Comedy. I have said that Genet's Our Lady is lyrical: it is necessarily that. as strictly separated from one another as Genet is from them. his method of description. But Genet has this very great strength: the only world he wants to describe is the only world he can describe subjectively. To deal with any wider forms of social life he would have to attenuate. I do claim for Genet that in Our Lady of the Flowers he created out of his narcissism a world with others in it. and then the universe. The fable or plot of the book is suggested at the outset by an image: …I wanted to swallow myself by opening my mouth very wide and turning it over my head so that it would take in my whole body. But this world is subject to a severe limitation: the others whom Genet is able to reach out to narcissistically are essentially narcissists themselves.book.
Darling is a thief as well as a pimp and Our Lady has the special glamor of being wanted for murder. and is also indistinguishable from Divine's motives. The action of the novel is one of revenge: the revenge of Divine. Our Lady is sentenced to the guillotine. a passive homosexual. attracts the police. on Darling and Our Lady. And when Our Lady unexpectedly submits to the Negro Gorgui in front of Divine. Divine manages to get him arrested. with my impetuous motion. despairing of sex. Oh that the universe were an immense celestial anus! I would plunge my penis past its bloody sphincter. the very bones of the pelvis. It is that of the passive homosexual. is written into the very plot of the narrative. The motive for revenge is "normal" jealousy made drastic by Divine's feeling of inferiority at being unable to play a male role. But my point is that the lyrical passage about swallowing the world. Darling finds another whore. as will be seen if one compares the image cited above with an image from Lautréaumont which expresses the feeling of the homosexual who is active. rending apart. which expresses Divine's passivity.Let me designate Genet's lyricism more precisely. the latter. active pimps Divine loves—and supports by whoring. The image can no more be separated from the rhythm of the story than the images of a poem .
but what Our Lady says and does has the surprisingness of a person we find real. even taking into account its limited scope. But did the novelist create even one character in this book who is not a projection of himself? Without at least one such character. in fiction or in life. the balding male whore. is no projection of Genet." This is an answer which was surely not dictated by the author to his character. When at Our Lady's trial the judge asks him: "Why did you kill?" the murderer replies: "I was fabulously broke. Of course. and has less psychological depth. when provoked by the assembled queens to prove that he is truly regal. Divine. is a projection of Genet. character. takes out his denture and places it on his head (Genet remarks that it took much more grandeur of soul to replace the denture) is certainly a true. And here we see the limits of his theater. who. Sade to have tapped them fully. No doubt most of Genet's characters are roles the author has played or wanted to play. He is less interesting than Divine. Does Genet succeed in creating real characters? Divine. Narcissism does have creative resources. the murderer. which relies not on character as we normally . as Sartre has pointed out. But Our Lady. though Genet is probably the first author since. and even a great. Our Lady of the Flowers would be a failure.from what it says.
understand it, but on the different roles played by persons who apart from their roles would be quite interchangeable. What distinguishes Claire from Solange in Genet's play The Maids? Only the special roles they have decided to play. They even exchange names. And are not the Judge, the Bishop, and the General in The Balcony virtually the same? They differ only when they have put on their particular costumes and gotton up on stilts. Sometimes Genet writes as if other persons were real only when invested by him with some special authority. In fact, I think it must be very hard for him to think of anyone but himself as real. In Our Lady of the Flowers, though, I think Genet has made his greatest effort to give independent life to others and to treat them as more than actors in his own drama. This is his most realistic work. Genet has written three other novels: The Miracle of the Rose, Funeral Rites, and Querelle of Brest. All are extraordinary and should be translated. But I think only one of them, Funeral Rites, is comparable in quality to Our Lady of the Flowers, and this is the only other novel by Genet in which he relies as radically on what I have called his "Cartesian" thought. The Miracle of the Rose and Querelle of Brest are at times subjective, and at times objective in the manner of other novelists. Only in Our Lady of the Flowers and in Funeral Rites does Genet's subjectivity, pushed to the point of paroxysm, donate whatever objectivity
they have to others, things, and the environing world. I am not going to claim that the characters in Funeral Rites are very real. They are essentially roles, more so even than the lesser figures in Our Lady of the Flowers, and in Funeral Rites there is no social world, not even one like the world of pimps and queens Genet described in his first book. But the problem with which Funeral Rites begins is a genuine, even a "social" and "objective," problem: How mourn for the dead? Jean D., Genet's lover to whom the novel is dedicated, was a member of the French Resistance and had been killed by a French militiaman. With what ceremony should the living Jean grieve for the dead Jean D.? The whole novel, in fact, is nothing but the elaborate study of what such a ceremony might be. A ceremony is a social act. Genet in Funeral Rites creates his own ceremony out of his own subjective needs, just as in Our Lady of the Flowers he created a whole social world in order to pleasure himself sexually. The ceremony Genet invents for mourning his lover is very peculiar, most perverse. Jean, Jean's lover, has been killed, as I said, by a French militiaman. The funeral has not yet taken place. And the living Jean, wondering how to mourn for the dead, goes to the cinema and there sees a newsreel fight between members of the French Resistance and French supporters of Pétain. Jean sees a young French patriot killed by a young French pro-Nazi; he
imagines that the man killed is his lover, Jean, and has an immediate impulse to give himself to the killer. This fantasy is pursued throughout the novel, in which there is much about German pricks. In an imaginative flight, Jean thinks of the prick of Eric Seiler, a particularly brutal Nazi, who had begun his career as the lover of the headsman of Berlin  , as the V-I protecting Hitler himself. In fantasy throughout the novel Genet is buggered in his own person—or in the person of French thugs or pro-Nazis with whom he identifies himself—by brutal Germans; at the end of the novel by Eric Seiler. Is this a way of mourning for a hero of the Resistance, a man valued for patriotic virtue? Or did Genet hate his lover for having this virtue which he himself did not possess? Genet identified himself, as he makes perfectly clear, with those French supporters of Hitler who took Nazi orders simply to get revolvers in their hands. So Genet could hardly mourn sincerely as a Frenchman for his lover. Moreover, Genet is a narcissist; his grief to be sincere had to be avowedly a narcissist's. And how does a narcissist grieve for the death of another? Would he not have to have died himself in order to understand the meaning of a funeral rite? But at the end of his book Genet makes clear what his ceremony really is and must be. The living Jean will eat the dead Jean, at least in fantasy; and the fantastic giving of himself to the dead Jean's killers is a mere preliminary to the real fantasy: the ceremonial eating of
the dead Jean. This is the great moment of the novel and Genet's description is magnificent. Personal, sexual, and religious feeling, half hidden from one another in most of us are called up imperiously by the author's words and united by them into a mighty spell: Once more he was swept along by the green waves of anger; which rolled by in the night, under a sky scratched with summer lightning; the waters were full of alligators. On river banks, criss-crossed with fern, savage worshippers of the moon danced in the thickets about a fire. The tribe which had been invited to the feast became drunk with the dance and with the thought of the treat in store: the young dead man cooking in a cauldron. It is sweet and consoling for me, here among the men of a dark and quaking continent, whose tribes eat their dead kings, to find myself again with the natives of a country like Eric's, so as to eat without risk or remorse, the most tender flesh of the dead man, to assimilate it to my own, to take the best morsels with their fat in my fingers, to keep them in my mouth and on my tongue without disgust, to feel them enter my stomach and know that their essence will fill the very best parts of me. The boredom of cooking has been spared me, while the heat of the dance helped the body boil, extracting from the flesh its magic essence. My palate too was sharpened. I danced, blacker than the blacks, to the beat of the tom-tom. I made my
body supple; I made it ready to receive the totemic nourishment. I was sure that I was God. I was God. Alone at the wooden table I waited for Jean, naked and dead, to bring me on a platter his own corpse. I presided, knife and fork in hand, over a singular feast at which I would consume his privileged flesh. No doubt my head was aureoled; there was a nimbus about my body: I felt my splendor going forth like a spray. The blacks played on flutes of bamboo and on tomtoms. Finally, coming from I do not know where, Jean, naked and dead, walking on his heels, brought me his corpse well-cooked, placed it before me on the table, and disappeared. Alone at that table, a God whom the Negroes dared not look at, I ate… Thus the death of Jean D. gave me roots. I finally belonged to that France which I had cursed, and so strongly desired… While eating Jean D., Jean is at one with Germany, the country of killers; that is why he refers to the African village where the rite takes place as "a country like Eric's." Having eaten the victim, Jean is united, and for the first time, with France. Certainly this imaginary rite will disgust many readers. But I would ask them to consider what ways are at their disposal for giving ceremony to their grief for the dead. No doubt the funeral ceremonies of the established religions were at one time the result of some genuinely subjective thought or feeling. But our
sensibilities are quite different now from the sensibilities of those who invented the rites which we still entrust our feelings to. Who has not wanted to invent his own ceremony, be it of grief or of joy? I do not like Genet's way of mourning, but it does seem to me a real one, created out of his own substance. All the same, this creation of a rite, though something more than a subjective act, is not equal in my view to the creation of a world shared with others, a world with the warmth and spontaneity of a real society. So, remarkable rhetorically and spiritually as is Funeral Rites, I cannot place it on the same level with Our Lady of the Flowers. I must add, too, that Genet's plays, Deathwatch, The Maids, The Screens—even The Balcony and The Blacks—seem inferior to me as intellectual efforts to Our Lady of the Flowers and Funeral Rites. Possibly the theater and its needs have imposed on Genet too many objective problems; his thought proceeds most surely when he begins with his intimate feelings and out of these tries to construct the world. But who knows? Perhaps some day this writer will give us a thoroughly Cartesian play. In any case, is it not remarkable that centuries after the death of Descartes, a male whore and hoodlum, speaking Descartes's language and using his method, should have given life to the novel, once the chief glory of French letters—and which without Genet's efforts would be
though uneven in quality. email icon Email to a friend Notes  Sartre's introduction to Our Lady of the Flowers. in one respect at least. I have relied on Mr. With The Blacks Mr. the Baron de Charlus. the full force of which I did not realize at the time—the man he loved seemed to him like an adorable hangman. can only be described in superlatives: it is one of the most amazing pieces of literary analysis I have ever read. not yet published but which I have in proof. Frechtman's translations.)  Pompes Funebres. his versions of The Balcony and of The Screens are not .moribund in France today. though. Frechtman succeeded admirably." (My italics. Frechtman's translations of Genet in general: I find them competent and accurate. my translation. not unlike the proGermanism of Proust's character. suggested to me that Genet's pro-Germanism is. Elsewhere in this piece. In explaining Charlus's leaning toward the Germans. taken for this edition from his vast Saint Genet. Proust in a message of immense subtlety notes this detail about his character: "Now in him sexual pleasure was accompanied by a certain cruel idea." This error. Joseph MacMahon wrongly refers to the "headsman of Berlin" as the "hangman of Berlin. About Mr.  In a book on Genet.
. and I do not think his translation of Our Lady of the Flowers catches the music of the original as well as one would have hoped. 2009. French argot is not inelegant and enters unobtrusively even into a style as convoluted and thrice-refined as Genet's. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Little Bookroom / Pudlo France Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. Please contact web@nybooks.  I realize that this contradicts a previously published judgment of mine about the value of Genet's novels in relation to his plays. My mistake came from judging the novels from memory.nearly so good. NYREV.com with any questions about this site. One difficulty: there is much argot in Genet's novel. American slang is aggressively inelegant. Frechtman has not entirely resolved the difficulty. Inc. All rights reserved. Mr. I find his version of The Screens faulty in the same respect.
Poussin. Haskell illuminates and most of the facts are known to investigators of Baroque. Pietro da Cortona. To read it.. the relative submissiveness of the Jesuits and other religious orders. and Claude Lorrain. 454 pp.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. all fall vividly into place. and know something about artists of seventeenth-century Italy like Bernini. but .00 This is a fascinating book. the author's Part One ties the careers and the styles of painting of these artists and others to the interests of the patrons who made them prosperous. 1963 Going for Baroque By Creighton Gilbert Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque by Francis Haskell Knopf. the urgent need to create images of power quickly during a single reign. Starting from that base. The motivations of the Popes are the chief key: the violent shifts of taste when a new Pope appeared. on a fairly special subject. Some of the trends which Mr. Number 4 · October 17. one has to possess a developed curiosity about historical causes and effects. the preference for artists from the Pope's home town. $15.
There was. NYR Holiday Subscription Special The only significant complaint I have about this first part is less the author's fault than a general human failing. The opposite is true of Richelieu's France. after all. and the paintings are worth it. Each of his criss-cross presentations dovetails beautifully. but its political history. To tie those potent figures to the dim art around them would be anticlimatic. was trivial and therefore is unfamiliar. Haskell's luck. Phenomena which he calls typical of this seventeenth-century society often. Rome in this century had far more than its share of the best artists from everywhere. The deepened understanding of the paintings occurs in a context of lively character sketches. and his synthesis offers much that is new to the deepest specialist. but did have tremendous local power and willful and distinctive personalities.many items are the author's own finds. There are merely fewer records from the . no big shift in habits of living. or the Germany of Wallenstein and Gustavus Adolphus. in fact. existed a century or more before. Cromwell's England. But in Rome the historian can illuminate remarkable paintings by their connections with people who made no impact on the future. in the long view. This combination of major art and unfamiliar background is Mr. in the Italy of the Renaissance.
a lack that happens to be reinforced by the author's naturally greater knowledge of the later period. Haskell's two earlier exceptions to seven. and cases to the contrary are perhaps more frequent even earlier. but Vasari informed his Duke what the symbolic picture would be like that he was preparing for him. Our detailed symbolic interpretations of paintings lead us to deduce that patrons specified them. Not only was Michelangelo asked to produce any theme he liked. the author finds it an innovation that certain pictures were not commissioned at all. because it contradicts a well-worn convention in art historical research. Thus he says that it was "new" and "most exceptional" in the earlier period. but without hunting I can increase Mr. not because it contradicts the data assembled before. he reports that artists. The graph does go up later. but only. On a larger point. and it is common to assume that this was the standard practice. Baccio Bandinelli). once they were assigned a subject.earlier period. but painted and put on . to give artists noble titles. but not at so steep a rate as he thinks. His conclusion rightly surprises him. had "surprising" freedom in the actual look of the resulting painting. and still earlier in Venice Giovanni Bellini turned down a commission from a too instinctive Duchess. I am afraid. most of them never held in awe as particularly great (for example. She seems to have had a more exceptional attitude than he. Yet evidence is very sparse. On another related point.
The absence of government patronage creates an unusual condition. But Carpaccio was doing this a century before. Mr. The situation in Part Two reminds us more of those more ordinary books on the history of collecting that titillate us with characters. do not really affect the quality of this book. This is fitting. But in eighteenth-century Venice. though. They overlap at random. but it will make the second part less attractive to many readers. individuals. Such amendments. and mainly collected what was available instead of influencing what was produced. Haskell has intentionally written his two main parts in quite different ways.sale to the public. The focus on the Popes provides a constant. there are only individual private patrons. The first is tightly constructed. since this is an area outside its particular theme. but only a scattering of more or less connected. and the practice probably was quite widespread. the only one to rate a whole chapter. About-the patron whom Mr. the subject of Part Two. The Popes follow one after the other. Haskell rightly considers the most important. because the data are different. but cannot go far as a thematic device. he concludes that he wavered in taste according to whatever stronger influences happened to be nearby. In . without a gap: most other patrons are affected by papal attitudes as much as the painters are. more or less socially typical or eccentric. The Venetian patrons formed no network.
in getting artists for his church. witty painting. but he had. He has found one truly important patron in this area. He . This opportunity had the effect of stimulating them to do more remarkable work for Ferdinand than they had been doing when they first came to the Prince's attention and this stimulus lasted them throughout lives in which they were never to find a patron like him again. Between these two main parts there is a brief section on patronage of Italian artists in other cities and abroad. in the sense of a non-formal. Oliva. and use the same point for my major criticism. I would like to take from it a slightly more detailed sample of what Mr. it is really to the credit of Mr. more fully and with more balance than has been done before. Riccl and Crespi. impressionist. He was a belated Medici who died at fifty before succeeding his father as ruler in Florence. We are more likely to know about Canaletto's trip to England and Tiepolo's to the PrinceArchbishop's palace in Germany than about the troubles of the Roman Jesuit leader. Haskell accomplishes. giving them their first chance and effectively drawing them out of their provincial surroundings. the Grand Prince Ferdinand of Tuscany. Yet if the reader is less impressed here. a prophecy of rococo. discovered modern art. In particular he brought two painters to Florence in 1704-09. Haskell. who has told the story as it happened. in almost complete cultural isolation.any case the story is more familiar.
Even if he has not confused him with the forgotten Grand Prince. Many people would say there is a third most interesting young painter of the period. Mr. who also was informal. impressionist. a peculiar choice for his one venture outside his provincial home territory. perhaps because the starting point of his researches was not the artists but the buyers—his book is not called "Painters and Patrons. and for him too Florence was the great stimulus to his maturation. and they have a genuine claim to be "the two most interesting artists of their period. and witty.knew the special kind of painting he was encouraging. Haskell has retrieved him from obscurity." Yet even if the addition should turn out to be justified. Magnasco. . and Mr. Magnasco was in Florence too in 1703-1711. And yet he may have missed some more. Ferdinand's younger brother who inherited the title. His biographer in Genoa sixty years later said he had worked in Florence for the Duke Gian Castone. it would only be another consistent item added to the framework he has established. it establishes a contact. Haskell does not mention Magnasco at all. both of whom were pioneering a break with late Baroque conventions." and this makes the Grand Prince Ferdinand very impressive. He was the rare patron who had a positive effect on a whole movement in painting.
He even understood that. Beyond that we should cite the English publisher. for readers of a book like this. Do American publishers lack such initiative because they still believe more books are sold per capita in England. It is written with urbane grace.This is a very British book. just issued. He has provided a really full index. a belief now revealed in England as a myth? It is true the British publishers have the special stimulus that London is now filled with bright young art historians. Cambridge. Its attractive typography can be spotted at once. ("The quality of the drawings… justify enthusiasm. though to be sure the occasional error in grammar is disconcerting in a Fellow of King's College. not just for pedants but for people. who was ready to bring out a book of such original investigations and not restrict himself to duplicating the usual elementary primers on Great Artists. the footnotes are pleasanter and smoother on the same page than at the back.") But altogether its lack of either evangelical pleading or muddy plodding distinguishes it refreshingly from most American books on similar topics. In fact it is the point of most intense focus for such work just now anywhere. and Michael . now oddly encased in the usual Knopf binding. a sort of heavy General Grant-type version of Baroque. which doubles the book's usefulness. This book is flanked by Ellis Waterhouse's history of Italian painting in the seventeenth century.
NYREV. a deserved success about five years ago.Levey's book on eighteenth-century Venice. Haskell. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. He is involved in a competition of brilliance. focused on Baroque Italy. 2009. . This context continues to produce new generations of talent. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search Little Bookroom / Pudlo France NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. because it was urbanely brilliant too. Mr. Inc. and because of the huge stores of Baroque paintings in England. All rights reserved.com with any questions about this site. Please contact web@nybooks. because both cultures show us the phenomenon of art collecting as a profession. who is thirty-five and whose first book this is. may be studied like the people in his book. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher.
.A. as Maitland immediately . The string is the sometimes obscure and hasty argument. 338 pp. collective philosophy of society. The diamonds are the marvelous insights into the genius of the Common Law and the detailed explorations of the dynamic of its growth. resembles a necklace of splendid diamonds surprisingly held together at certain points by nothing better than string. and his historical work. the contemptuous dismissal of rival views. though since corrected on many details. Holmes's genius as displayed here is that of a historian especially of early law. they still flash their illuminating light on the dark areas beneath the clear and apparently stable forms of legal thought. made. and the exaggerations with which Holmes sought to build up the tendencies which he found actually at work in the history of the law into a tough. Number 4 · October 17. Hart The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes.00 This famous book. edited by Mark DeWolfe Howe Harvard.L. $5. now admirably reintroduced to the general reader by Professor Mark Howe. 1963 Holmes's Common Law By H.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1.
Aulus Gellius. But the range is matched by the scholarship. and the slow emergence of modern ideas of the transferability of legal rights. the philosophy which Holmes drew from his history was shallow. in spite of its interesting connections. "an epoch. the nature of contract. In the first thirty pages. NYRB Holiday Sale In his Preface of 1880 Holmes told his readers that his object in writing the book (which he had delivered as lectures to a partly lay and surely somewhat puzzled audience at the Lowell Institute in Boston) was to construct a theory. "Nous faisons une théorie et non un . Pliny.recognized. even as a critique of the Kantian metaphysics to which it was opposed. Pausanias. Plutarch. its topics include the basis of liability for crime and for civil wrongs or torts in early and later law. the law's use of the elusive idea of possession." By comparison. Livy. and it is amazing that so much could have been amassed by a man of thirty. This learning is always gracefully deployed and never degenerates into pedantry. and many others. Cicero. with the Darwinism and empiricism of his day. besides the texts of Roman Law and English statutes and cases from the earliest times onwards. Demosthenes. It now seems of value mainly as a stimulant and to have little claim to finality. there are references to Plato. The range of the book is vast. noted by Professor Howe.
or even a cancelling out of. for Englishmen.spicilege. The great names were those of Kant. he found that academic law was dominated by a theory which had been begotten by German philosophy on the body of Roman Law. a vast tome constructed in. and for. and Savigny. the blameworthy exercise of the will. for Americans." The theory was to hold together and render intelligible the forests of detail. had successfully attempted something similar for Roman Law in his Ancient Law. To this. indeed the reverence. a slightly smaller textbook. Hegel. The day had not yet then dawned when a "law book" would mean. law schools—mainly with scissors and paste—or. Punishment was to be justified as a return for. due the individual and the individual will. The delineation of first principles was still a respectable speculative enterprise even for a lawyer. of which the Common Law appeared to consist. though with perhaps less learning. When Holmes first began to write in the 1870's. Perhaps the boldness of this enterprise appears greater today than it did then. gifted with similar talents for pregnant epigram and historical generalization. Sir Henry Maine. all that was problematic or in need of justification was referred. uneasily designed to serve the needs of both practitioners and students. and the theory's focal point was the respect. contracts were to be enforced because they were made by the . some of it very ancient lumber.
possession—even the possession by a thief of stolen goods—was to be protected by the law because it was "the objective realization of the will. this Willenstheorie seemed either unintelligible or a romantic fiction. framed on a plan irreconcilable with the a priori doctrines of Kant and Hegel. incapable of explaining even the institutions of Roman Law on which it purported to be a gloss." and he turned to English legal history to find it. between legal and moral duty and legal and moral wrong. In this ruling theory of his day. the whole metaphysical approach appeared simply to ignore the practical aims and exigencies which shape any living body of law.meeting of human wills which they expressed. It is essentially the work of a . The first fallacy was that a legal system had a simple logical structure and that its complexities could all be explained as the deductive consequences of a few leading principles. Apart from its detailed errors. none of this book is easy reading. These were the ideas which. in "cynical acid. In so doing he professed himself convinced that in the Common Law there was "a system far more civilized than the Roman. were to be washed. perhaps washed away. The second fallacy was that there was a close affinity." In spite of the originality and generality of its main themes. as he wrote elsewhere. Holmes discerned two pathetic fallacies and devoted much of this book to their exposure." To Holmes. if not identity.
and of legal rights as easily transferable things. The most difficult passages are in the last chapters which describe the slow. and the often rebarbative detail is difficult even for a lawyer to follow. "The difficulty in dealing with a subject. to acknowledge that not only concrete things but abstractions like legal rights might be transferred from person to person. Here Holmes probed deep into the technicalities of medieval Common Law." So he set about to understand and to expound how familiar modern legal conceptions first became "thinkable in legal terms. He opened up fresh ground in this area of legal science because he was so greatly endowed with the ability to question what had long seemed obvious.professional legal historian in search of a general theory. Indeed Holmes's touch was very much that of the naturalist and was . emerged from cruder primitive conceptions. not that of a social prophet." he observes. with the aid of the strange fictions and analogies depicted here. "is to convince the sceptic that there is anything to explain." More—more even of philosophy—is to be learned from following Holmes's sympathetic reconstruction of the difficult birth of modern legal ideas than from attending to his overt philosophizing. But it is precisely here that Holmes's greatest gifts were manifested. involved process by which modern notions of contract. is to gain a new comprehension of the natural history of human thought. To learn how men came.
" But his idée maîtresse. "Though the law starts from the distinctions and uses the language of morality. which in the end became something of an obsession. "just as the clavicle in the cat tells of the existence of some earlier creature to which a collar bone was useful. it necessarily ends in external standards not dependent on the actual consciousness of the individual. Among these maxims is the famous warning (too frequently torn from its context and misapplied) that "the life of the law has not been logic.perhaps influenced by the biological theories of his day. he thought recourse to it indispensable to explain its remnants still present in modern legal rules." From his historical studies Holmes distilled a number of maxims to be used as prophylactics against the excessive rationalization and moralization of the law. he thought. he said. Here. it has been experience. Though he never adulated the past. It is. lay one of the cardinal differences between early and modern law. though the law often seems to make liability to punishment or to pay compensation for harm done dependent on the individual's actual intention to do harm. was the principle that." and his insistence on the importance to the understanding of law on "instinctive preferences and inarticulate convictions. which were the occupational diseases of the legal theorist." Or again: "The law considers what would be . this is most often not to be taken at its face value.
In spite of its subjective and moralizing language. require (Holmes never adequately discriminated among these three) is that the person accused of the crime should have done what an average man would have foreseen would result in harm. Its central contention is that when the law speaks of an intention to do harm as a necessary constituent of a crime. all it does. and should." These were indeed powerful heuristic maxims dissipating much misunderstanding in the fields of contract and tort.blameworthy in the average man. the law does not require proof of the accused's actual wickedness or actual intention or actual foresight that harm would result. and determines liability by that. and can." This is Holmes's greatly debated theory of objective liability. for common sense as for the law. the man of ordinary intelligence and prudence. and the proposition that . and in the most celebrated chapter in this book he erects these principles into a form of social philosophy justifying what he describes as "the sacrifice of the individual. there are important connections between the proposition that a man by acting in a certain way intended harm. But Holmes came to regard them as more than valuable pointers to neglected tendencies in the law. Of course. He sometimes treats them as statements of necessary truths ("by the very necessity of its nature the law is continually transmuting moral standards into external or objective ones").
like the young child or lunatic. indeed the elimination of them has been the aim of many liberal-minded reformers of the law for many years. but apart from this. Nonetheless the two propositions are distinct. the devil alone knoweth the thought of man. however. "The thought of man is not triable.an average man who acted in that way would have foreseen it or intended it. though not conclusive. There is no echo in Holmes of the medieval Chief Justice Brian of the Common Pleas. evidence of the former. or because he thought that subjective facts were too elusive for the courts to ascertain." Though many of Holmes's followers accepted his theory of objective liability because of the difficulties of legal proof of actual knowledge or intention. though well aware of the distinction. are obviously grossly incapable. Certainly the criminal law bears traces of such objective standards. Holmes. if men are too weak in understanding or in will power. Holmes does not rest his doctrine on these merely pragmatic grounds but on a social theory. they must be sacrificed to the common good. His view was that the function of the criminal law was to protect society from harm. For the latter is good. The law may exempt those who. This was not because he was a philosophical behaviorist. thought that in general the law did not and should not attend to it. and in pursuit of this objective it did and should set up standards of behavior which individuals must attain at their peril. But .
as means and not as ends. Apart from this.though Holmes at one point says that he does not need to defend the law's use of "objective standards" but only to record it as a fact. taking no account of the incapacities of individuals. Holmes's main argument is a fallacy and unfortunately an infectious one. he devotes much of this chapter to showing that the law here is reasonable and even admirable. In the case of punishment. the right in question is the right of men to be left free and not to be punished for the good of others. He asserts that society frequently treats men as means: it does so when it sends conscripts "with bayonets in their rear" to death. Kant never made the mistake of saying we must never treat men as means. He . He considers the objection that the use of external standards of criminal responsibility." This meant that we are justified in requiring sacrifices from some men for the good of others only in a social system which also recognizes their rights and their interests. He admits the charge but thinks it irrelevant. treats men as things. He insisted that we should never treat them only as means "but in every case as ends also. not as persons. The arguments he uses are the poorest in the book. But this reply is cogent only against a stupidly inaccurate version of the Kantian position on which the objection rests. unless they have broken the law when they had the capacity and a fair opportunity to conform to its requirements.
it is still perfectly intelligible that we should defer to principles of justice or fairness to individuals and not punish those who lack the capacity or fair opportunity to obey. Holmes himself in discussing liability in tort stresses the importance of such principles of justice to individuals. a non sequitur. but thinks their requirements are adequately satisfied if the individual is punished only for what would be blameworthy in the average man. Even if the general justification of punishment is the utilitarian aim of preventing harm. of course. so it should equally disregard these subjective matters in dealing with the offender when the law has been broken. On this basis he seeks to prove that there can be no reason why the law should concern itself with the actual state of the offender's mind or enquire into his actual capacity to do what the law requires. so long as the law is obeyed. His proof is that since the law only requires outward conformity to its prescriptions and does not care. and not vengeance or retribution. but to prevent harmful crime. This is. what were the intentions or motives of those who obeyed or whether they could have done otherwise. It is simply not true that such a concern with the individual only makes sense within a system of retribution or vengeance. is not to secure vengeance or retribution in the sense of a return of pain for an evil done. Indeed.adopts the acceptable position that the general aim. justifying a modern system of criminal punishment. No doubt there are .
For they have accepted from Holmes the false suggestion implicit in his argument that it is pointless to bother about the individual's mind or capacity to conform to law except where the aim of punishment is retribution for moral wickedness. The decision of the House of Lords was greeted with a storm of criticism and it is clear that Holmes's doctrine is unlikely to be invoked in English cases other than murder. In 1961 the English House of Lords endorsed it and quoted Holmes's words. But paradoxically some of Holmes's opponents even in America have darkened counsel as much as his followers.practical difficulties in ascertaining the actual knowledge or intention or capacity of individuals in every case. Holmes applied this principle in murder cases at least twice and the influence of his doctrine has been great. They have asserted against Holmes that we should indeed be concerned . The test of foresight is not what this very criminal foresaw but what a man of reasonable prudence would have foreseen. both on the body and the theory of the law. But little support for it is now to be found in American legal opinion and it is firmly rejected in the Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute. "The law will not enquire whether he did actually foresee this consequence or not." When he was a judge in Massachusetts. but there is no reason in principle why a maximum effort should not be made to do it.
This is not only a tribute to the magic and sonority of his style. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions Books = Gifts Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. no individual is to be punished who lacks the capacity to obey. It still pays handsome dividends in thinking about any subject on which Holmes touched here. almost everything which Holmes said in it still reverberates. though it is for the protection of society that law breakers are to be punished. Though there are these and other weaknesses to be found in this book.with these subjective facts about the individual. but agreed with him that this is so only because it is necessary to establish the moral wickedness of those who are punished. and it ignores the claims of those liberal forms of utilitarianism which hold that. NYREV. even though. Inc. All rights . This is a blinding over-simplification of the complex issues surrounding the institution of punishment. in some cases. to begin with what he said. it seems no longer possible to stay with it.
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. Pritchett Fanny HillFanny Hill by David Levine Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland Putnam.95 paperback (paper) Every age gets the pornography it deserves. it is the test of artistic merit. maiming. 1963 The Harlot's Progress By V. The people who are now making a fuss about Fanny Hill. torture. $. and if he is called upon to judge. It can be suggested (as Havelock Ellis once did) that some kinds of pornography are socially useful. they may allay evil desires by acting as a sort of imaginative distraction.S. Whether this is so or not. They may lead us away from action into harmless fantasy. on the screens of television and cinema and in pulp fiction. often topped up with sexual perversity. He will find himself considering man's often brilliant exploration of . which are presented with a sickening kind of pleasurelessness. the real test is not what the average man thinks. and killing. Number 5 · October 31. John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. do nothing about the real pornography of today—the incitement to violence. 319 pp. it is the average man's duty to find out what artistic merit is.
No one is asked to say how meritorious an artist is in these matters. The same transmuting process can be seen in the treatment of the classical but surely sordid encounter of Leda with the Swan. however. one sees. that Goya's art transmutes them and places them in that area of our minds where the difficult but indispensable moral and civilizing process can operate. detailed descriptions of several kinds of sexual adventure and intercourse. In doing so. but even lane Eyre or Lorna Doone inflames.his own imagination. a country girl abandoned in London. many sensible people have thought that Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. Nothing could be more horrifying and inciting to sadistic action than those terrible pictures of Goya's called The Fantasies and The Disasters of War. Fanny. not in the history of smut. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. but it is essential for the transmuting element to be recognized. . usually known as Fanny Hill. had this element. describes how she enters a select brothel—note the word "select"—and goes into prolonged. in the pathos and laughter of Maupassant's Maison Tellier. Smut never lasts. I believe one can see it also in that minor amatory exercise. in the brothel paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec. at once. NYR Holiday Subscription Special Since 1749 when it was first published in London. The story is obviously inflaming. It has its place in the history of literature.
delights in her senses. more refined and indeed naturally sensitive or passionate people have found the very opposite. without the sort of hypocrisy that greater writers like Defoe or Richardson insinuated—that she had physical pleasure in lust but physical and spiritual pleasure in love. rarely descends even to colloquialism. The disconcerting thing about the book—as a piece of "pornography"—is that it has charm. And it is not shabby baroque. never to the clinical. on the other hand. warm-blooded. she is complacent.however. is unashamed in curiosity. she indeed writes an elaborate literary language that would do credit to any master of baroque and poetic utterance—shall we say Henry James?—spoken in a drawing room. His book is. I believe. the nearest thing we have to an English Manon Lescaut. Having made a lot of money in her enforced profession about which. in the true practical spirit of the eighteenth century. she marries her first lover: a success story that can be said to be a smack in the face for Clarissa or Pamela. No one pretends that John Cleland approaches the range or power of Defoe or Richardson as a novelist. and is distinctly self-aware. She is healthy. but she truthfully perceives— and this. she never utters an obscene word. But he must be seriously discussed . Fanny belongs to the latter category. She is unrepentant in pleasure or lust. Many have thought the intercourse of the sexes brutal even when blessed by the Church.
for he brings to life an important element in eighteenth-century morality and feeling. elegance. The first is accidental.) But the strongest influence on Cleland is that concern for the reform of manners which is the most powerful force in the English novel during the eighteenth century. Part of this spirit of reform was the expression of Puritan ambition or—more accurately—of the beginnings of middle-class respectability. was appalled by the barbarity of English social life. affect the status of women who begin to emerge as the custodians of society and. and the social revolution accompanying it.with these writers by the literary critic. Especially does the spirit of reform. and making men and women physically clean and conversible. the refinement of sensibility. in The Golden Lotus. Two influences clearly bear on his mind. it began under William III who. or comic-brutal attitude to sexual life which is so strong in the aggressive AngloAmerican traditions. (Charm. like most Dutchmen of that time. the former hardened into hypocrisy and the latter into arid artifice and eventually false sentiment. In the end. brutal. Residence in Smyrna as British Consul and later in Bombay appears to have removed from Cleland the morally ruthless. The other part was directed to polish. a concern for manners in love are pronounced in Oriental works like The Arabian Nights and. tenderness. despite the clinical dog-Latin of timid translators. at .
sins for one motive only: to attain respectability.last. The moral of Pamela is that lovely woman must not stoop to folly. The moral of Clarissa is "Better death". Like Fielding (in this way at least). she will miss both respectability and property. if she does. Defoe's Roxana becomes a greedy kept mistress. as Mr. that a life of libertinage leads to self-destruction. and even that Clarissa was one of those peculiar psychological aberrants who are contented with nothing short of rape. To these violent and general views. and of Hogarth's pictorial chronicle. Though frank about their sexual experiences. thief and doxy and calculating fornicator. She ends as the first Mrs. Grundy of Virginia. of their own persons. Peter Quennell says in his excellent introduction. Fielding was the aristocratic objector. Her morality and remorse—like Mrs. and also to compare Cleland's moral attitude with the Hogarth of The Harlot's Progress. these ladies take it as it comes and are incapable of describing their inner life. Defoe's Moll Flanders. It was notorious (a large body of non-Puritan opinion agreed) that a life of pleasure did not automatically lead to disaster. It was more profitable. John Cleland . to compare Fanny Hill with Richardson's heroines Pamela or Clarissa. because she is determined to be as free as any merchant and to be as much master of her person and property as any man. Grundy's— are amiable but suspect. that the virtuous Pamela was a sham.
It is true he was a down-at-heel Bohemian who wrote his sensational and daring Fanny Hill to make a quick twenty guineas. within its limits. to retrieve the Ancient Celtic. To this attitude Cleland adds his own eccentricity as a writer. which is dotty but reveals an obsession with the metaphysics of the art of description.holds to the view that manners can be reformed only if one is truthful about private experience and cultivates one's perceptions and good sense. He is eccentric to the point of ridicule. is not. syllable by syllable. when he was bankrupt. He sought to found a universal language and wrote a Specimen of an Etymological Vocabulary or Essay by means of the Analytic Method. His hobby-horse was not sex but philology. Mr. and through every particle that constitutes those ideas…by means of which the existence of things may be found in their natural records and repositories. He was a bookish Scot with a Celtic bee in his bonnet. His story may be shallow. yet his real interests were esoteric and solemn. I repeat it. Quennell quotes a long passage from this obscure essay. words satisfactorily . if I am not mistaken in this method of analysing words by an individuation of ideas. but its content. Here is a sample of Cleland's groping mind: If then.
In one sense Cleland is engagingly feminine: the continual reference . it idealizes. The evocation of what sexual pleasure is in its particularity and in the imagination. for eroticism is a kind of intoxication. But we must remember that Fanny Hill was a sensational book. The absurdity of Fanny Hill lies here also. extraordinary in an eloquent Celt—that inspired the florid and indeed the best passages of sexual description in the book. where "pornography" does not brutalize. Cleland is carried away by his sexual daydream. most of the time. energy and kindness. There he succeeded where better and higher-minded writers—D. The male organ is phenomenal to the point of absurdity. The book is. Cleland is good about sex because he is good about words. when one comes to think of it. H. Elegance. Lawrence among them—have grotesquely failed. put into the mind of a woman. he conveyed.explained so as to convey undeniable truths by implication… If that particular passage suggests anything it is a fervid preoccupation with metaphor and the associations of words poetic or otherwise— which is not. at that. was his strong point. written as a sensational counterblast from the point of view of privacy to those who were formulating the new public bourgeois attitude to sex. an erotic fantasy—and a male fantasy. So was Casanova. in this sense.
we believe her feelings. to furniture. alas. to manners is that. (There. one does not want this private mystery to be exploited or described too often.to clothes. she is no realist. But Cleland has the naive male double view that old whores are hardened and corrupt but that young ones. though on the make. should have had a finer and far less gross sexual sensibility than Hogarth— except possibly in one or two gory sadistic metaphors and in the disagreeable flagellation scene. but it is odd that Cleland. who was either wrong. Romantic morality reasserted itself and sexual happiness retired from print into privacy and. one would guess that Hogarth's view of the bagnio was the correct one. for we notice Cleland is a snob: his brothel is that fantasy.) After the eighteenth century. the select brothel with no risk of the eighteenth-century nightmare. a book like this could not be written in England. the pox. Fanny Hill may bore one—she admirs that an ecstatic story like hers may become tedious because there is nothing so tiring as repeated ecstasy—but she leaves no bad taste. exalted. If we don't believe her fairy tale. even by the gifted. it at any rate shrewdly exposes the psychological distress of the neurotic. . On the whole. are also rescuable—not by pious interference. indeed. If that disgusts. Indeed she conveys the sense of pleasure without guilt. or cynical. but through the experience of love.
All rights reserved. Inc. deluding as a guide to conduct. Fanny Search the Review Advanced search HarperAcademic / Olive Editions NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. but respectful of our delight in the body. added episodes. this halfsly. But as a minor fantasy. the real pornographers got to work on Fanny Hill. Immodestly the flesh happily persists. (One set of these by Cruikshank must have been good. halfingenuous manual is an interesting footnote in the history of the English novel. Nothing in this publication may be . The book was pirated. NYREV. The pirates supplied obscene illustrations. email icon Email to a friend Letters December 12.) They dirtied the text.After publication. The illustrations led to prosecutions. 1963: Hans Koningsberger. but it has been lost. It reminds one of those improper carvings one sometimes finds under the arms of medieval choir stalls.
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we are forced to stick to his work. figurative—Lord Byron cuts a figure—but he is not figurative—Shakespeare led a life of Allegory. is enough to make all the diaries and laundry bills in the world irrelevant. Number 5 · October 31.00 John Keats: The Making of a Poet by Aileen Ward Viking. Shakespeare was lucky. After all. inescapable. he himself contributed so much towards it in his voluminous letters. their bickering and . 732 pp. his works are the comments on it. And what he left out was filled in by the memoirs of his friends. $10. $7. Not so with Keats: his biography is insistent. mercifully. And that. 1963 Keats By Al Alvarez John KeatsJohn Keats by David Levine John Keats by Walter Jackson Bate Harvard. Since we know so little of his life. Compared with Keats himself... 450 pp.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1.50 A Man's life of any worth is a continual allegory—and very few eyes can see the Mystery of his life—a life like the scriptures.
Had consumption not got him. be much less—even if he had fulfilled his own most stringent ambitions. it remains more or less true. I think. and scarcely anyone reads them. which raise a dust that almost chokes the poems. and his Hyperion. as he himself well saw. the reviewers been kinder. Cover his face: mine eyes dazzle: he died young. the lure of his work would. But in shorter things. For his life was. in pure form. fine things as it contains. Nobody writes long poems any more. his life. he commands a thickness of metaphor and even occasional . As it is. Indeed. an allegory of the Romantic poet. His Endymion. is not a success. However much we would qualify Matthew Arnold's judgment. he is perfect. he assimilated the lesson of Shakespeare's use of language in a wholly original way. Yet that in itself makes Keats very much to the modern taste. and he and Fanny settled improbably into domesticity. are not required. there is not all that much there.gossip. and the high architectonics which go with complete poetic development. somehow completes his poetry. unless forced. where the matured power of moral interpretation. or rather his death. For in terms of mere bulk. is a failure. in nearly every way Keats is the most modern of the Romantics: as Eliot once urged.
Walter Jackson Bate and Aileen Ward. I imagine. the books he read." NYRB / Chrysalids Holiday The factual reality and the myth of Keats's life are investigated again by his two new biographers. his unRomantic vigor and toughness with himself. He meticulously goes through every provable detail of Keats's life: his day-to-day activities. his ideas and his finances (Abbey. he is one of us socially: not quite a gentleman. "There is. meetings. his guardian. dinner parties. not quite properly educated. his dealings with his publishers and with the literary tradition." said his friend Woodhouse. "snuffed out by an article" and then immortalized in Victorian myth and Severn's posthumous sketches. "made an awkward bow. Professor Bates massive record will. "I always.tricks of synaesthesia which predate the Symbolists. "a great deal of reality about all that Keats writes. be final until the scholars dig up substantially new material—if any remains to be dug." Add to all that his sharp critical insights into his fellow Romantics. and he seems a long way from the oversensitive darling of the senses. the people he knew. he has a steady ambivalence to death and the senses which goes well beyond the pleasure principle." he wrote. the development of his meters. Above all. and continually willing to risk his social poise for his convictions. his belief in the impersonality of great art. journeys. turns out to be the villain of the .
she gives a fairly detailed chronology. but also a fine scholarly detachment. abandoned her children. Every source is judged for its reliability. exactitude is not primarily her business. as best he can. and few not found wanting. this means his relationship to his lively. and weaves from hints elaborate and sometimes novelettish arabesques: As for Fanny. at times more monumental than readable. like Hamlet's. he lets the man speak for himself. the nightmare of the summer was over. his beauty. Still. seductive mother who. no longer a figure of bale. the question then is how this conflict worked itself out in the . Like Bate.book. embezzling the legacies of the Keats children). For all the amassed detail. With Keats. remarried too soon after his father's death. but she is far less insistent on facts. Professor Bate never pries: he has no theory to pin on his subject. and returned only to die. The gush sorts oddly with the careful research which Professor Ward has obviously put into the book. such as W. The result is not only a monumental scrupulousness. every rumor weighed. Rossetti's theory of Keats's syphilis. Professor Ward is not quite like that. M. Her real interest is in the psychology of genius. She uses even the chancier rumors. his own. She was now simply and truly herself to him again. his young love.
from the stiff beginning." Yet this energy is only a necessary preliminary to the great work. a prodigy from the start." Yet despite their differences.psycho-symbolic patterns of his verse and in his behavior. as Professor Bate insists." than about those later gifts to the amateur psychoanalyst. and for some time after that his development was slow. his talent uncertain. "surprisingly. fundamentally. He was not. both biographers are concerned with what is. all this occupies a span of only three years. she is more incisive about Keats's first poem. but it doesn't . the sheer improbability of Keats's poetic career. "The Creature has a purpose and his eyes are bright with it. like Rimbaud. and then to the final burst of great poetry. like "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" and the "Ode to Melancholy. through the literary intoxication and Leigh Hunt-inspired affectations of the first volume. He was. Oddly enough." Yet the whole progress. the vapid "Imitation of Spenser. His mature verse may depend upon this fullness of life. said Byron. "viciously soliciting his own imagination"). He was almost nineteen before he wrote his first poem. to the more assured romances. though without going very deep. Keats is the supreme example of creative vitality and concentration. Professor Ward follows this line more or less convincingly. the strain of Endymion (in which he was. refreshingly remote from precocity.
For that involves something more than a literary insight into the impersonality of great art. of course. despite oneself. impossible to say. the sense of loss. William Empson once remarked that the line . Why Tom's death should have triggered such an incredible burst of creativity is. But what seems to have mattered most was the contrast to his own vital energy. The cycle of his poetic apprenticeship begins and ends with a death: that of his mother turned him to literature—his almost obsessional reading at school dates from then. It also implies an essential step in psychological maturity: the acknowledgement of the independence of life outside oneself. the impersonality of death. Critically. and the memories which were stirred up of his mother's and father's deaths are all part of the process. the need to acknowledge that this thing happens despite all the care and love and passionate denial in the world. that of his brother made him a major poet—he began Hyperion while Tom was dying. of the fact that Iago and Cordelia exist in their own right. that is.really start until the vitality was brought up short by the fact of death. and in the twelve months which followed produced all his most important poems. Keats had come to understand this when he first outlined his theory of negative capability. The stage beyond that is the more difficult acknowledgement of the fact that they can equally cease to exist. No doubt the shock. despite oneself.
to make it. neither twist "tells you that somebody. That thou hast power to do so Is thy own safety. that is." "High Prophetess. And when I clasp'd my hands I felt them not. "Holy Power. But that is precisely what he seems to have been doing when he rewrote Hyperion. "purge off." Yet that passive. and. life seem'd To pour in at the toes…. suffocating at the heart. go not to Lethe." .ed shrine. "What am I that should so be saved from death?" … Then said the veiled shadow: "Thou last felt What 'tis to die and live again before Thy fated hour. feminine swoon into "easeful death" is only one element in Keats's more complex effort to assimilate death into creative power. my mind's film. thou hast doted on Thy doom. if it took four negatives in the first line to stop them. deadly was my pace: the cold Grew stifling." said I. approaching near the horn. no. Benign. part of his most intensely felt life. One minute before death my ic'd foot touch'd The lowest stair. heavy. must have wanted to go to Lethe very much. as it touch'd." Cried I. The epic proper can only begin after the poet has undergone a kind of death: Slow.No. if so it please thee. or some force in the poet's mind.
it is. Having got to the rare stage of being able to use his understanding of death for creative ends. "But those to whom the miseries of the world Are misery. foreshadowed his life. he then found himself dying. Rot on the pavement where thou rot. One of the nastier paradoxes of art is that. to transform the negative into a capacity. The poet in writing brings to the surface the conflicts which are nagging him and then finds himself acting them out. his poetry. Instead of summing up and so disposing of past experience." What is in question here is neither suffering nor misery. So though Keats's letters may have foreshadowed his poetry. in turn." I . If by a chance into this fane they come. it more often seems to provide a rough sketch for what is to come. All else who find a haven in the world Where they may thoughtless sleep away their days. creatively. rather. to die.ted'st half."None can usurp this height. Revisiting the house in Well Walk. where he had lived with his brothers. despite all the effort involved. it is not essentially therapeutic. the ability to understand what death means." re. as it were.turned that shade. and will not let them rest. Keats told Hunt that he was "dying from a broken heart.
" Keats understood his death all too clearly.think he was lamenting more than the deprivation and ruin of his own life—his whole family either dead or inaccessible. perhaps. Please contact web@nybooks. and his own horrified attendance at his second death. but in the end sustaining. NYREV. and marriage with Fanny Brawne no longer possible—he was also lamenting his own death as a poet. Inc. For he wrote nothing more. and he understood the terrible wastage it involved. All rights reserved.com with any questions about this site. What he could not have foreseen is that from these last pointless months the whole legend of Romantic genius should have been born—cold comfort. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. 2009. There followed only what he called his "posthumous life" in Rome. Yet "That which is creative must create itself. .
. Harvard. Most of the professors who work at these institutes are also paid as "consultants" by the Defense Department and similar agencies at the rate of $ 50 to $ 100 a day. Levine Harvard. The money to finance these studies generally comes from one of the agencies that make up the National Security Establishment—the C.) The universities have become more and more involved with defense policy since the beginning of the cold war. the Atomic Energy Commission.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1.I. Princeton.A. the Defense Department. Or it may come from one of the foundations. Number 6 · November 14. or the Office of Emergency Planning. 352 pp. 1963 The Megadeath Intellectuals By Marcus G.. $6. When they work for corporations which are wholly . Raskin The Arms Debate by Robert A.50 (The author of this review was formerly a member of the White House National Security Council Staff. and Columbia now have sizeable institutes studying questions of defense and so do other universities.
which have been set up by the Defense Department or one of its branches. Levine. I have come to the conclusion that their most important function is to justify and extend the existence of their employers. NYR Holiday Subscription Special Mr.subsidized by the government—the missile industry. and in the last analysis it must be doubted that they are intended to be. But the fact is that most are not. the author of The Arms Debate. he wrote this book while a Research Associate at the Harvard Center for International Affairs. Robert A. and the Office of Naval Research. This is not to say that some of the papers they produce are not valuable contributions to defense policy. Beyond this. there is a steady exchange of experts between the universities and those special organizations. and he now works for the RAND Corporation. is very much a part of the world I have been describing. His purpose is to compare dispassionately the principal public positions . What are we to make of these institutes and organizations? After examining a good deal of their work. while I was in the Government and now that I am out of it. A good many are also awarded handsome contracts to write papers for one government agency or another. like the RAND Corporation. the Institute for Defense Analysis. Trained as a professional economist. for example—they may receive as much as $ 300 a day.
that have been taken on the question of a desirable armaments policy—not only by people within the area of officially sponsored thinking. Amatai Etzioni). Charles Osgood. which proposes that the U. Erich Fromm. they believe that disarmament. and Paul Goodman. freedom. They insist that preparation for war results only in forms of totalitarianism. we have the systematic Anti-War School consisting of such people as Bertrand Russell. but by those on the edge of it. He does not accomplish this. Sidney . but his way of going about it is worth examining. the Marginal Anti-War School (Arnold Waskow. Third. or because they consider that nuclear arms cannot be an answer to a political threat. He proceeds by categorizing the "debaters" into Schools of Thought: First. Second. maintain some nuclear arms for the present but that it take unilateral initiatives leading to negotiated general and complete disarmament. They want to disarm unilaterally—and immediately—either because they don't view the Soviet threat as real. which Levine finds hard to categorize but in which he includes such people as Herman Kahn. Although Levine does not characterize them as such. and national security are not incompatible. the Middle Marginal School.S. or outside it altogether.
Levine tells us that he constructed this spectrum by judging whether the various . and Fred Schwartz. In their view all kinds of wars are appropriate to defend ourselves against Communism. the Anti-Communist Systemists who would use all methods to defeat Communists up to and including thermonuclear war. although they would like to keep violence down to "low levels. who think that defense against Communism is more important than the danger which might follow from thermonuclear war. Morton Halperin. William Kinter. Edward Teller. Thomas Schelling.Hook. According to Levine. Major de Seversky. This group is closest to the policy-makers of the current Administration. Anti-Communist Marginalists. and Stephen Possony. Fourth." Members of this school include Robert Strauss. Here we find (or once found) Barry Goldwater. And finally. and (c) to use the threat of thermonuclear war to accomplish political objectives in the classic manner of Clausewitz. (b) to ameliorate the effects of war if it occurs by controlling the kinds of thermonuclear weapons used. and himself. this group wants (a) to prevent nuclear war by having a so-called "second strike" capability so that an attack on our nuclear forces could be answered by an attack on the enemy's nuclear forces.
are needed to hold the Middle Marginal position. We are never told.—to each policy position he describes. Levine has made a disturbing omission. chemical and biological weapons. for example. Although much of what he says about the "debaters" is accurate. Since Levine puts these two values at opposite ends of his spectrum. is to manufacture a formula which enables him to classify the differing viewpoints conveniently. etc. What he has done. Beyond this. He fails to link the actual weapons of the arms race—bombs. and Etzioni by suggesting that they value disarmament more than political freedom— something they would certainly deny. the size of the budget. Osgood. or the power of the military establishment itself. how many weapons. and what sort of damage they would do. Because such questions are not answered. of what kind. the reader is left with the impression that the arms discussion is essentially metaphysical. research and development. missiles. it is inevitable that he will have difficulty in dealing with a theorist like Waskow who believes that they are integrally related.strategists consider thermonuclear war or Communism the greater threat to the United States and the world. he misstates the position of Waskow. in fact. his constricting formula leads him into serious distortions. with no reference at all to numbers of weapons. . To take only one example.
it was reasonably clear to anyone who knew the facts that the Soviet Union could be deterred from attacking us. and more numerous weapons. however. Indeed. As late as 1959. discussions of nuclear war were quite rarified and were not taken very seriously. Most of the people who actually made high policy thought that planning for nuclear war was merely an exercise in the theory of annihilation.But that is not what really offends me about this book. . I am more concerned with the fact that Levine has created a debate which is more sham than real—and that should not. At the same time. The various military agencies and their supporters were following their natural inclinations to obtain faster. It is as if one were to describe a debate between the proponents of cancer and those who want to cure it. exist at all. that it could have no practical consequences. And yet during the Eisenhower administration many atomic bombs existed. by a relatively small number of nuclear weapons and missiles. in any legitimate intellectual or moral sense. and intercontinental missiles were being developed. until fairly recently. stronger. President Eisenhower said that thermonuclear war was unthinkable: What he meant was that in view of Soviet nuclear power it could not be used to accomplish any political objective of the United States. thermonuclear weapons were in production.
In 1957 and 1958 Henry Kissinger of Harvard attempted bravely but vainly to rationalize "tactical" nuclear warfare. among others. Then Herman Kahn of RAND. William Kaufman of M. And so began a series of rationalizations by the "defense intellectuals" in and out of the universities. in short. thermonuclear wars which the U. military and industrial leaders needed some kind of theory to rationalize their use: they had to prove. thought. that nuclear war was a practical enterprise which could serve the political ends of the state. or by "counterforce attacks": the destruction of all the retaliatory or first-strike forces of the opponent.. but not his cities (even though the cities and nuclear forces are geographically adjoining). argued that thermonuclear war was indeed practical.T. This became particularly urgent during the late 1950's when economy-minded members of the Eisenhower administration began to wonder why so much money. Schelling.I. along with Kaplan.In order to justify the continued large scale production of these bombs and missiles. would win by attacking specific military targets: or by partially disarming the enemy. and resources were being spent on weapons if their use could not be justified. They talked of brandishing nuclear weapons in conjunction with an elaborate civil defense program—a national will-stiffener which the policy-makers . They developed theories of so-called "controlled counterforce war"—that is.S.
this has been generally recognized by people who are familiar with both the technology of the weapons and the policy processes of government. By now all these proposals have been exposed for one reason or another as useless for the conduct of our defense or our international relations.could use to threaten an opponent at the bargaining table. with the concomitant increase in the probability that some will be used and that uncontrolled escalation will follow. Herbert York. Under the present conditions of unrestrained arms race. it is certain that the numbers of warheads each side might deliver will increase. For example. It is now evident that the United States and the Soviet Union each have the capability to deliver an utterly devastating attack on each other. former Director of Weapons . The same thought was expressed by Dr. Perhaps even more threatening is the prospect of an increasingly large number of countries having nuclear weapons. only a Pyrrhic victory could be achieved in a nuclear war. To talk of winning such a conflict is to misuse the language. President Eisenhower's science advisor said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: I do not believe that we or any other nation can find any real security in a continuing arms race. George Kisiakowsky. as will their yields.
In this respect they are no different from the great majority of modern specialists who accept the assumptions of the organizations which employ them because of the rewards in money and power and prestige. Washington itself may be seen as a city of apparently cautious and responsible men who have mastered sophisticated techniques but rarely concern themselves with basic principles or objectives. and they will continue to demonstrate why it must. Because they have . But because statements of this kind have been made we should not expect that the theorists of the defense establishment will become less active or numerous. I am optimistic that there is a solution to this dilemma: I am pessimistic only insofar as I believe that there is absolutely no solution to be found within the areas of science and technology. the result will be a steady and inexorable worsening of this situation. And so it is with most —not all—of the defense specialists who are paid to justify violence.Development for the Department of Defense: It is my view that the problem posed to both sides by this dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security has no technical solution. They know enough not to question their employers' right to exist. If we continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only. Military procurement will continue to flourish.
a student of social psychology might profitably read the ads to understand the audience to which they are directed. Justifying. whatever they may be. and applied themselves so energetically to rationalization. and repackaging their clients' products. On the other hand. We are told that advertising people are often bright and decent men. selling. justifying. like most advertising. and we are all involved in it. and he might well ask to what extent certain prevalent American concerns are reflected. It must be read for what it tells us about this society. Now after reading most of the officially sponsored literature on arms strategy I have come to the conclusion that. in one advertisement or another. or partially dismantled. by those outside it. and rationalizing are an important part of American commercial civilization. Promotion of this kind should not surprise us. If we wanted to find out about the products. or exploited. it cannot be read for its content because very little of it has any. we would learn little by reading the contents of their ads. in much the same way that a social scientist might read a Cadillac ad in the New . but they are wholly committed to selling. they have done much to insure that the present military system will not be challenged.accepted the premises of their employers so readily. A comparison can be made between the specialists in violence and the Madison Avenue hucksters about whom we have heard so much.
It is understandable that the specialists in violence should want to be taken seriously by their old colleagues and to prove that there is some intellectual and moral basis for the way they spend their lives. In other words.) But more than that. the behavioral sciences. most of this literature can be understood only by examining the motives of the men who wrote it and the basic political and economic situation which has led to the over-production of armaments. If this could be proved. Since he believes that serious debate is going on. and. he insists that all ad hominem argument is unfair.Yorker. and why? (Note the historic importance and current disarray of our conflict-of-interest laws. I think he shows here a common American reluctance to discuss publicly that sticky question: who paid whom to say what. mathematics. A majority of those who have drifted into the field of defense strategy were trained in more traditional disciplines—economics. to a lesser extent. applied physics. there seems to be a positive anxiety on Levine's part to portray the arms strategists—and particularly those of the Middle marginalist position who are rightly described as being closest to policy making— as people who have important substantive ideas which must be taken seriously. engineering. Levine would object to this. There are interesting reasons for this. if not pernicious. the defense specialist could become more than a .
" Seeking ways to reduce substantially the level of armaments. The specialist in violence must find an authentic opponent to engage in debate—not a customer to sell. A few years ago. it was expected that the Quakers and pacifists would disagree. But this can be accomplished in only one way. A quite separate group of theorists including Waskow. or a client to please. they were soon able to pick apart many of the arguments of the defense specialists and to expose their spurious sense of statecraft. disinterested. And for years this was difficult since most of the critical opposition came from small groups who were not to be taken seriously themselves. something new began to happen. and good. He would be eligible to share once again in the image which many academic men have of themselves as balanced. while increasing security. Osgood." and rationalizing the weapons his employer has decided to develop. however.huckster selling "counterforce" or "minimum deterrence. independent. and others—the group Levine calls the Marginal Anti-War School—emerged. None of its members was tied to the branches of the Department of Defense or to any of the officially sponsored "think factories. Something that must have seemed like a debate started to take place: the abstruse rationalizations were being challenged. The . After all.
Levine. has not begun. however. 1963: Albert Wohlstetter. 1963: Robert A. The debate as Levine has cast it is neither the right debate nor the interesting one. Arms Debate December 26. This is not the case. and by taking seriously books like Levine's. By assuming that there is a real debate. by simply finding people to debate. Arms Debate Search the Review . and why. It can only begin when we accept certain stubborn facts: that our defense establishment has swollen to grotesque proportions and is a menace to the national security of a free society. is that. in short. the academic community and the informed public are led to think of the main antagonists as equally rational and independent in their thinking.irony. the specialists in violence have dignified their intellectual existence. A useful arms debate can take place only when we are willing to recognize who is capable of thinking independently and who is not. email icon Email to a friend Letters December 26. it will require an almost completely different cast of characters if it is to produce hopeful solutions. A useful arms debate.
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Straus.. This beginning is. 365 pp.50 There is a certain kind of cultism that is encouraged by the way in which Mr. but one would hope that a biographer of Mr. 1963 Aimez-Vous Apollinaire? By Neal Oxenhandler Apollinaire: Poet Among the Painters by Francis Steegmuller Farrar. unfortunate. $6.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. to my mind. This is the Apollinaire perpetuated by the countless books of memoirs and reminiscences that have emerged from the pre-world War I period. Steegmuller's gifts would go beyond this . He begins by discussing at considerable length the question of Apollinaire's paternity. No doubt this is a legitimate subject for a biographer. the malaimé smiling through his tears. etc. Number 6 · November 14. because it leads us at once to the Apollinaire of the cult —the mysterious Rabelaisian giant. to derive Apollinaire's entire character from his illegitimacy and his mixed Slavic and Italian temperament. reminiscent of palmreading and astrology. Steegmuller has chosen to write this first English biography of Guillaume Apollinaire. yet there has always been an unfortunate tendency. the hero and lover and practical joker.
pseudo-metaphysical style that Apollinaire seems to have been the first to consider essential to a discussion of avant-garde art but which has since become all too familiar to readers of prefaces to art books and introductions to exhibitions by contemporary artists. but . with the quite new insights into the poet's character that are to be found in Marie-Jeanne Durry's study of Apollinaire's religion.stereotype. Apollinaire criticism has reached the point where new avenues of exploration are possible. and Mr. Apollinaire's first Muse. studied old documents. and gives in an appendix a moving account of an interview with Annie Playden. He has interviewed government clerks. Steegmuller has pursued the facts about Apollinaire with scholarly enthusiasm. But I find that he does not make sufficient use of a prime biographical source—the poet's writings. for instance. much of it written in the turgid." This is a thesis that should be backed up by textual analysis. In fact. Such a book might have begun. although Mr. Mr. Steegmuller has undertaken to challenge the notion that Apollinaire was an important critic of the arts. There is relatively little analysis of Apollinaire's prose writings. he holds Apollinaire partly responsible for the barbaric style of contemporary art criticism: "It (Les Peintres cubistes) is a curious volume. Steegmuller (who sets as his goal in this book merely the establishment of "facts") has missed an opportunity in not giving us a new Apollinaire.
such as "Les Fenêtres" and "La Vièrge à la fleur de haricot à Cologne. perhaps especially in those poems inspired by paintings. for instance. there is still much to be said about Apollinaire's plastic and visual sensitivity. but here Mr. As it is.Mr. Instead." NYR Holiday Subscription Special The book's title leads us to expect a detailed presentation of Apollinaire's relations with the Fauve and Cubist painters. some link between the eclecticism of Apollinaire and that of Picasso? Painter and poet share a gift for using the "found" object. were shared by painters and poets alike. This constitutes an impressive array of witnesses to Apollinaire's incompetency in the arts. Picasso. but it leaves the argument against Apollinaire without content. Jacques Villon. the "impresario" of the Cubists. Steegmuller does not go far beyond the anecdotal. if any. Steegmuller does not undertake his own investigation of this question. and Kahnweiler. he quotes Braque. Cubism seems to rest on joie de vivre and heroic poverty which do not help much to explain the esthetic consistency of the movement. First of all. as displayed in his poetry. one would like to know what esthetic principles. Even if Mr. Isn't there. Steegmuller is right. Both have the ability to span centuries by an adroit borrowing— Apollinaire's medieval inspiration in "La Chanson du malaimé" is an example. These . The great questions about this milieu go unanswered.
the reflective and contemplative genius of the Cubist painters has little of the intensely personal. qualities that have been affirmed to exist in Apollinaire's poetry. are its hallmark and its strength." But unity and order. "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes. We must qualify any statement about unity and order in this poetry. just as we must qualify the "freedom" of this poet enslaved by an amorous fatality." Despite the fact that a number of Apollinaire's poems are based on paintings." of which Mr.traits point to a quite new attitude toward artistic conventions. The spatial structure of a Picasso painting has little in common with the essentially temporal and emotional structure of an Apollinairian lyric. This freedom and this order. the loftiest manifestations of the French spirit. are not to be found there in any way traditionally recognizable. which in the new spirit are inseparable. this Narcissus who cannot tear his eyes away from his own sorrowing reflection: "Oh my shadow in mourning for myself. indeed. Such an attitude toward the tradition might be examined in the perspective of Apollinaire's essay. which are the great classical qualities. an attitude of casual and eclectic appropriations. Apollinaire says: "…the new spirit speaks above all in the name of order and moral responsibility. and it complements them with freedom. and. There. there is no easy exchange between the two arts. Steegmuller gives us a new translation. lacerated quality of .
Steegmuller has chosen not to make the ultimate act of involvement and self-identification that is demanded by a major achievement in biography. perhaps. All this makes it difficult to define Apollinaire's relation to the painters. judicious. From time to time. Mr. together with the erotic elements in his letters and poems certainly offer material for a thorough-going study of this special . friendly. or moral doctrine. He has verified and brought together the rather meager information available about Apollinaire.Apollinaire's verse. Steegmuller might have better defined some of these issues. Apollinaire and his painter friends did not share a common political. one of the characteristics of the period is its absence of intellectual content. a book that captures some of the fluency and brio of its hero. Apollinaire's pornographic writings. He has done this in an eminently readable book. indeed. the task would be more appropriate for an esthetician or an art historian than for a biographer. his edition of Sade. Mr. Let I find that in perpetuating the Apollinaire of the cult. He remains cool. I do not wish to be ungrateful for the elegant book he has actually written. In suggesting that Mr. Apollinaire's eroticism is a case in point. then fails to pursue them to ultimately illuminating conclusions. Steegmuller raises major issues. amused. religious. Furthermore.
aspect; indeed, there is perhaps no other lyric poet on whose eroticism such complete documentation exists. Some technical knowledge of psychological analysis should be part of the equipment of a biographer; especially is this true of a biographer who deals with a lyric poet, by nature a man obsessed with erotic fantasies. I think Mr. Steegmuller must have interesting opinions on this topic; I wish he had gone further in exploring it in his book. When one considers the vast amount of scholarship and research expanded on French literature in this country, it seems strange that we will leave the writing of major works in the field of French poetry and Cubism to the French. Few Americans undertake to write the definitive critical study or the definitive biography of a French author. American critics and scholars of things French have yet to learn the daring of Apollinaire's esprit nouveau. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search Books = Gifts NYRB / Christmas Classics Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008, NYREV, Inc. All rights
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The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1, Number 7 · November 28, 1963 Lives of the Painters By Meyer Schapiro Born Under Saturn by Rudolf Wittkower, by Margot Wittkower Random House, 344, 89 illus. pp., $7.50 In popular opinion and to the psychoanalyst artists are a special class of human beings with psychological peculiarities connected with their calling. Have they become artists because of these traits or have they acquired these traits from their practice of art? Are these peculiarities universal or do they arise from modern circumstances, from the aims of art in our society and the recently developed social situation? Is the current conception of The Artist perhaps only a stereotype based on a few painters whose strange lives have impressed public imagination? Or does it represent an ideology created by the artists, a self-picture that sets them apart and justifies certain liberties and demands? These are some of the questions that the authors of Born Under Saturn try to answer. Their book differs from most approaches to these problems by their historical method. They have read the old texts about Western
artists and have extracted from the enormous mass of evidence an enthralling story of the changing behavior, fortunes, and ideas of artists through the centuries, and in a sober critical spirit have tested the common notions about artists in the light of these documents. Whatever the value of their conclusions, the book is fascinating to read because of the abundant quotations which bring to life so many remarkable individuals. Ever since the fifteenth century the painters, sculptors, and architects have attracted the attention of observers who have left us accounts of artists of extraordinary character. And the artists themselves have, in letters and diaries, exposed directly their intimate thoughts and feelings. Some of the material comes from the records of the Italian courts—the testimony concerning artist-defendants in lawsuits or criminal trials. Stories of violence, murder, rape, theft, jealousy, madness, and suicide; anecdotes of the most bizarre eccentricity; convincing praise of angelic personalities of a rare serenity and noble nature; profound reflections by artists on the problems of their art—these are reproduced here from the surviving texts in vigorous translations. NYR Holiday Subscription Special I shall cite one example of the kind of revelation frequent in this book. The authors quote from a life of Andrea Sacchi, a Baroque master in Rome, that
…he worked with an uneasy mind; knowing perfectly well the difference between the good and the better, he was never content. When some friends of his reproached him for his laziness and asked the reason for his being so slow in his work, he answered. "Because Raphael and Annibale Caracci frighten me and make me lose heart." And he added that it was the great misfortune of his time not to have friends with whom he could discuss the difficulties inherent in the painter's profession and that this was due to one of two reasons: men were either unaware of these difficulties or, being aware, did not wish to talk about them. From another source we learn that "although he spent whole days without touching a brush, he kept on working until the very end of his days." At the risk of simplifying, I shall summarize the more important conclusions drawn by the Wittkowers from their study of the records. For the Greeks and Romans and in the Middle Ages the artist was, with few exceptions, an artisan and, as a member of the lower classes, was not respected even though his work was admired. During the fifteenth century, when he became something of a scientist and a scholar, his situation changed. To realize his new
conceptions he had to know anatomy, geometry, and perspective as well as classical literature and art. Armed with this knowledge and aspiring to a noble ideal of beauty and truth, he came to be regarded as a free creative mind working from inspiration like the poet. Ideas, moods, and ways of life connected with the primacy of the imagination were cultivated then by painters and sculptors. Until the fifteenth century the artist had been classified by the astrologers with the highly practical persons born under the sign of Mercury—the artisans, innkeepers and thieves; during the Renaissance he was placed with the poets and philosophers under the sign of Saturn and characterized by the melancholic temperament typical for creative spirits. His new status as an intellectual brought many conflicts with the guilds to which he had belonged and which had once regulated his relations with patrons; he was increasingly a free man and therefore exposed to the insecurities of his independent position. We hear much then of his obsessiveness, his "creative idleness," solitude, and introspection, and the uncertainties of work in contrast to the organized busy life of a guild craftsman. No longer protected by a guild and not yet admitted to the upper classes, the artist was a homeless individual in the emerging competitive society. His unsatisfied longing for an honorable place led to rebelliousness and a defensive attitude, to eccentricities of conduct and a bohemian
priest. in fact. they deny that one can infer the personality from the art. Similarly.disorder. the records of artists' suicides fail to confirm the idea that selfdestruction is especially frequent among them. Rubens. But the character-type of the artist has changed from period to period with changes in his tasks and patronage. lawyer. when considered with respect to their time and place. at home in the royal courts (Bernini. and by supposedly atheist artists which look sincerely devout. So in the seventeenth century the model of the aristocratic worldly artist. merchant. and scientist—and the individual personality which . But the many stories of crime do not distinguish the artist as a type. Van Dyck). These helped to form the image of the artist in the public mind that has lasted until today. like the familiar character types of the courtier. fewer suicides are reported among artists than in other professions. They distinguish therefore between what they call the "generic character" of the artists of a time—the qualities they have acquired in functioning as artists in their time and place. There are paintings and sculptures by mad or neurotic artists which seem perfectly sane. While admitting that every work is personal. The Wittkowers give much attention to the belief that the personalities of artists may be discerned in their works. replaced the preceding type of the refractory and often neurotic painter. they are no less common in other groups.
I agree with certain of these criticisms. In . supported by close reading of the documents. their categorical statement that in "the artifacts of psychotics… (the) structure invariably falls to pieces. the essay on Andrea del Sarto by Ernest Jones and the books on Leonardo by Freud and Kurt Eissler. but not with all the arguments that the authors bring in support—for example. They criticize. In a chapter on "Genius. In several instances the psychoanalyst has interpreted as purely personal some element of the artist's work or behavior which is typical in his milieu. they recommend the control of psychological explanations of art and artists by a fuller knowledge of history and especially of the "generic character-types" of each period. and find it defective in essential details." The general problem is more complex than they seem to recognize and psychoanalysis is hardly disposed of by pointing to these failures." I do not share their skepticism about the possible contribution of psychoanalysis to the knowledge of art—they go so far as to say that psychoanalytic study "obscures more than it clarifies historical situations. too. Messerschmidt. Without criticizing Freud's theory as such. the late Ernst Kris's study on the psychotic sculptor. Madness and Melancholy.includes traits that find no direct expression in the art." the authors examine from this point of view.
correspond to style-periods like Renaissance. The concept leaves unexplained.the application of Freud's ideas to the arts and to history. is not incompatible with psychoanalytic theory. at least in some formulations. Perhaps a new impulse to self-criticism in this field will come from the thoughtful essay by Brian Farrell. The concept of "generic character-types" which. I have found little in psychoanalytic literature on the method and logic of these studies of art. the Wittkowers suppose. even if these daring masters of free association with history sometimes confuse the personal and the cultural in behavior. What the authors describe as the generic type has been constructed from the biographies of a few artists and will hardly fit many others of the same time. the part of exceptional individuals in the creation of new norms. much depends on the range of the available facts as well as on the culture and personality of the analyst. published as an introduction to the new Pelican edition of Freud's Leonardo—a reprinting of the classic work with detailed editorial notes that allow the reader to acquaint himself with Freud's errors of fact and above all with that crucial mistake about the "vulture" that was caught by an historian of art in 1923 and was strangely ignored by Freud and his followers until the 1905's. In asserting that in our day "psychoanalysis has produced a new type of . however. Mannerism. and Baroque.
Conceived in such broad and ideal terms and limited to a few traits. but there remains an important if naive assumption about the correspondences of art and personality which the Wittkowers themselves do not hesitate to apply in their remarks about an artist like Pontormo and which they seem to admit in principle when they write: "Every work of art bears. Sacchi?) One will grant that there is no "timeless constitutional type of artist. There remains also. for both the psychologist and the historian." they offer as evidence some statements by painters as different as Picasso. and Rothko on the subconscious or indeterminate source of their art." It is not clear to what extent they will allow inference from the characteristics of a period style to the "generic character-type" of the artists of that period. their notion of character-type does not permit us to grasp what is distinctive in either the art or the personality of an individual. the question whether there are not special aptitudes of form-construction. the personal stamp of its maker. and expression. of course. Chagall. and Van Dyck." and that the work of art is not "a mirror image of its creator" (what psychologist has maintained that it is?). how shall one understand the quoted text about their contemporary. imagination. (From the examples of Rubens. Baziotes.artist-personality with distinct characteristics of its own. Bernini. which appear in .
but the architects of the French cathedrals. have also a place in the history of science as writers on mathematics and physics. In tracing the passage from the pre-Renaissance craftsmanartist to the post-Renaissance genius-artist. it is worth recalling that the designers of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The phrase of Horace that painters like poets have the audendi potestas —the power to dare—(hardly applicable to artisans) was quoted in the Middle Ages. they say. Since early times. In judging the culture of artists before the Renaissance. the authors have assumed—too readily. whose effigies were sculptured in their imposing constructions and inscribed with their names and praises beside the tombs of bishops and kings. I'm willing to believe.the works of artists at all times. were rarely seen as creative personalities different from artisans. I believe—that artists in the earlier period. some artists were thought to possess an uncanny gift beyond that of mechanical skills and akin to . Before Ghiberti. because of their inferior social class. were surely regarded as original artists in the modern sense and were paid more than ordinary craftsmen." Not only was Giotto recognized during his lifetime as a great artist of sovereign versatility. between classic antiquity and the Middle Ages. whatever the typical style of the age. the artist was not "conscious of his intellectual and creative powers. and which have been recognized even when artists had the social status of manual workers.
Please contact email@example.com of poets and thinkers. Number 7 · November 28. Inc. NYREV. 2009. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search NYRB Children's Picture Books NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008.com with any questions about this site. although the literary expression of this view does not appear until recently. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15.P. 1963 Cosmic Comics By R. and the description of the artist's powers changes with the character of his art and the prevailing ideas about human nature. Donleavy . Flint A Singular Man by J.W. The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. All rights reserved.
.. .Atlantic-Little Brown. two jolly fellows and would-be Fieldings down with the cultural mumps and Kerouac. Donleavy and Gover were obviously plagued by acute cases of the Problem of the Second Novel. $6. 222 pp. 402 pp. when you consider the rewards and difficulties of raising a laugh.. that magnificent discovery of those cut short in their calling to the highest achievement. Straus. $4. $3. especially a very young one. damned if it's not. almost batty with self-consciousness.50 Visions of Gerard by Jack Kerouac Farrar. 152 pp. humor alone (perhaps the most inward and brilliant achievement of the spirit) attains to the impossible and brings every aspect of human existence within the rays of its prism.00 The Maniac Responsible by Robert Gover Grove. Humor alone. No wonder in that either. those who falling short of tragedy are yet as rich in gifts as in suffering. well… more like Kerouac than would seem possible. Our appetite for comedy has grown in harness with the publicity machinery that seems to drive a successful comic novelist.95 This is a queer trio of books.
indefinable. for the ambition that trips them up this time. blander Herbert Gold kind of thing. I suppose. cultural hooliganism. humor remains protean. picked at random from Hesse's Steppenwolf. gives some idea of what the budding comedian is likely to run into as soon as he begins roaming the halls of high culture and discovers that while the Tragic Sense of Life can be fairly neatly packaged and sold across the counter at the universities. most of which went into description. yet they can't be blamed. the rarest flower of the highest peaks. male narcissism. this was one kind of antidote to leftist gloom and the slicker. and a blunt Gogarty smoking-room gusto. Jolly sex. or so our culture believes. moral anarchism. atmosphere and resistance to dullness.This little nugget. If your first successful formula is vulnerable to parody and condescension. most of which went into action and speech. Don-leavy hit on a neat division between Dedelean sensitivity. why not stop the dogs' mouths with self-parody. . NYR Holiday Subscription Special The formula of The Ginger Man was more or less irresistible: a New York Irishman goes to dreary post-war Dublin and gleefully re-Joyces the joint. There was little enough in Donleavy's and Gover's first novels to suggest that either of them would develop into Twains or even Lardners. relaunching the once irresistible formula on a sea of irresistible cultural chic? That's about what it comes down to here.
Ionesco et al. all that lovely grim ready-made puritanism to set it off. an atmosphere that Mailer says is best reproduced at its source by Baldwin's Another Country (no comedy certainly). Cool Village. then.. not to mention the inane: . and Donleavy wisely refrained from trying to flush those pigeons twice. Ireland expected it. Eel Street. We move between such charming addresses as Merry Mansions Two Eagle Street. 1 Electricity Street. Thirty Three Golf Street. to New York (spiritually if not geographically) and a plunge into the acidulous solvents of the new cool higher comedy that flourishes these days under the aegis of Genet. Dynamo House Owl Street. Beckett. To have kept his hearty heterosexual chastity in this literary maelstrom was quite a feat.Dublin deserved it. to which I would add Terry Southern's The Magic Christian inasmuch as Donleavy seems to have read it rather closely. almost saintly indeed. Back. But there are not many Dublins left where being Rabelaisian has all that venerable tradition behind it. savoring many such touches of Donleavy's affectionate gift for the simple. A Singular Man takes place in a disembodied cosmopolis of sublimated dreamscapes ranging through all the fantasy-factories from The Ladies Home Journal "up" to Playboy and Esquire. and the Goose Goes Inn. New York consecrated it.
on Board Sea Shark. a scandalously lascivious Negro maid (archaic touch this) and finally. A Singular Man is like one of those enormous California carnival floats advertising some humble. manly telegraphy modeled on the interior monologue of Ulysses. now mysteriously rich and vaguely "aristocratic. a pathetic homebody secretary-victim. Piper Seven. Foot Of Owl Street" the invitation reads. George Smith. bughouse—sometimes cornily funny. in keeping with the grandiosity of the proceedings." And the prose! 402 pages of clipped. this is still the Big Time in every sense of the words. He has the same nagging wife. Waugh. In other words. capable. now divorced with four kids and grown piggish. Waterhouse. like three David Nivens reviewing their love lives in a high wind on the polar icecap. Wodehouse. our hero. "November The Twenty First. and displays what the jacket calls "boiling creativity. something we will probably never know. cynical. who is ultimately buried at sea. I hope you gather by now that all this Means Something. a gorgeous. the Ginger Man syndrome sky-written across the blue. Sally Tomson alias Dizzy Darling." cursed with an angst that makes him spend lavishly on an armored car and a gigantic personal tomb. unexceptionable commodity like . is the same charming rat with the numinous dong.but make no mistake. simple-hearted insecure doll. sometimes just infantile silly. occasionally wonderful in its four-ply parody—Amis.
oranges. is jolly sex. drives out to her house in the early morning after an unsuccessful seduction of the sex-kitten in the next apartment and chews over the crime in manly anguish in the company of a well-drawn bunch of reporters. a local reporter. But then comes trouble. observing along the way many significant road-signs revealing the Hollowness of Our . slapped-up quality that requires even less analysis than the Donleavy. and until the unlikely day when "pornography" (let's not quibble. I like it whatever it is) can be safely classified and reviewed in chunks like science fiction. and lays claim to a large tract of metaphysical territory out back somewhere. this classy suspension of all the categories. Which commodity. appearing so close on the heels of One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding. Someone has sunk a hatchet in the skull of a beautiful young unprotected housewife and the narrator. to be sure. in return for our small meed of uncomplicated fun. All this is A-OK. perhaps at New Thoreau in Saroyan County. first class movie writing. Robert Gover's second novel. has a fecklessly boyish. as a small-town who-done-it. He drives into the hills to meditate and meets a gruesomely sententious old hermit who addresses him constantly as "Kiddo. our hero returns. neighbors." to his justifiable annoyance. every so often we can expect this pancultural workout. quite well. It begins. Anyway. and cops.
between the hero's after egos (Fragmentation of the Self) and finally. a parody by John Updike anthologized by Dwight Macdonald. all "the maniac responsible" when it comes to such nasty behavior as murder. To call Visions of . although this tear-soaked monstrosity of a book seems designed to hide the fact from all but his fellow anointed. and has another go at the kitten in a long spicy episode during which one can hear the heavy breathing of Mr. natch. which I maintain is the best and truest Kerouac.Culture. no further depths to plumb. delivers his story to the paper. The writing shows promise. absolved. a last trip to the old man of the mountains for a concluding word on the human condition. Massachusetts. and has nothing more to lose. Barney Rosset in the background. Then a sort of fantasy playlet. The girl friend is something like Kitten of One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding but not enough. The young man is a noisy rattle. I hope this summary has indicated enough of the boisterous whirlwind tour of the contemporary conscience that Gover has provided in The Maniac Responsible. because. Et alors…Kerouac canadien de Lowell. we are all. Kerouac has survived the nightmare. which he didn't commit. our man is wretched and is finally nabbed by the police on the fire-escape trying to get back into her bedroom. But once more the girl funks out. So what does he do? He confesses to the hatchet murder. like.
so that the sentimentality which was pretty well sublimated into the fabric of On the Road here separates out into child worship on the one hand and near-gibberish on the other. all the poetries. . worriedly. it just exists. Kerouac's besetting handicap in recent years has been a certain deadness of ear. would be wide of the mark. contritely.Gerard a self-parody. or tonelessness. and French Canadiana. That is a bold claim. will read it I can't guess. just at that mystic point in his mind where he wants to be most alive. or even a hilarious takeoff on those creep biographies of wee sainted children cut off in the cradle. but having been brought up a few miles north of Lowell and driven through it often. I found the book as fascinating as it certainly is appalling. Visions of Gerard is all-out sentimentality of an intensity I believe unmatched in Western literature. He has much to say about that in this book. Sometimes it thins to a diaphanous mist. Who. This has grown on him steadily since the relatively straightforward On The Road. rebelliously. Like the giraffe. with a brief but solid core of excellent writing in the middle. connoisseurs of New England regionalism. By now we have a sufficient idea of the Christo-Buddhist-Hindu heaven that beckons him on. but this is a book that goes beyond any conceivable definition of courage. beyond Kerouac's friends. the karma-kid and dharma-daddy of all the philosophies.
is tellingly real. if it is sentimental.sometimes gathers into black thunderheads of rhetoric. I hope I won't . belongs to the good. sickest and most saintly tot in fiction since Little Nell. like the good father Emil of this book. were as heroic in their way as the East Side Jews of Malamud. streets. and this. her true bridegroom in heaven. but in 1926 when this "novel" takes place still a fairly busy mill town. churches. polyglot and church-ridden like modern Montreal. But the circumstances made clear is that this turbulent psychology has firm roots in his boyhood. Canuck life was one extreme after another in that Nineveh-city of Lowell. And most of the incidental description of the city's people. winters. dearest. The section Kerouac devotes to Emil's Saturday night on the town with his vaudeville cronies behind Keith's Theater is some of the best writing he has done. now one of the eeriest monuments in the country. But then there is Gerard. funerals and so on. Men who kept their heads above water. coarse rough tough needs in potato fields…" Kerouac's Zen Buddhism is often a terrible bore. florid and generous in the best style of romantic naturalism. "Winds all the way from the nostril of the moose. There is a good and a bad sentimentality. and Gerard is unquestionably the sweetest. but his faculty of sweeping down from the foggy heights and picking up bits of truth like lint throws some light on the oriental exoticism of life in those almost-abandoned towns on the Merrimack.
Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. 2009. NYREV. or "his" family's fortitude or the colors. he provokes excruciating baby-talk from both his chronicler and all the onlookers.com with any questions about this site. Plainly Kerouac doesn't care. It may have been like that. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search Books = Gifts NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. In any case. Please contact web@nybooks. He apologizes for nearly everything but this. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. All rights reserved.ever find out if there was such a child in Kerouac's past. Inc. . sounds and smells of Lowell. he dies at age nine of rheumatic fever and his invalidism is the plot of the book. As he lies there making his perfect little drawings or playing with his Erector set (a searing irony there!) or merely saying how he hurts.
The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. inevitably. one by the other. on the other hand. and faced with a prodigious spectacle which would be almost entirely unintelligible to me and might. Translated from the French by Claire Jacobson. the less likely it is. or I am a traveller of my own day. I miss. —from Tristes Tropiques . by Brook Grundfest Schoepf Basic Books. as I go groaning among the shadows. the spectacle that is now taking shape. but. hastening in search of a vanished reality. 1963 A Hero of our Time By Susan Sontag Structural Anthropology by Claude Lévi-Strauss.00 The paradox is irresoluble: the less one culture communicates with another. 432 pp.. In either case I am the loser…for today. indeed. in such conditions. Number 7 · November 28. the less likely they are to be corrupted. provoke me to mockery or disgust. The alternative is inescapable: either I am a traveller in ancient times. $10. that the respective emissaries of these cultures will be able to seize the richness and significance of their diversity.
Since 1960 he has held a very grand academic post. A collection of seventeen previously scattered essays on the methods and concepts of anthropology. the newly created chair of social anthropology at the Collège de France. But his academic eminence and ability to dispense patronage are scarcely adequate measures of the formidable position he occupies in French intellectual life today. Still to appear are another . Lévi-Strauss is hardly known in this country. and he has always been associated with the academic world. the risk involved in intelligence. a man can be both a specialist and the subject of general and intelligent interest and controversy. and heads a large and richly endowed research institute. Apart from the tireless Sartre and the virtually silent Malraux. involving a spiritual commitment like that of the creative artist or the adventurer or the psychoanalyst— is no man of letters. has just been published here. or an important public lecture. In France. Hardly a month passes in France without a major article in some serious literary journal. where there is more awareness of the adventure. extolling or damning the ideas and influence of Lévi-Strauss. NYRB / Pinocchio So far. he must be the most interesting intellectual figure in France today. brought out in 1958 and entitled Structural Anthropology.Claude Lévi-Strauss—the man who has created anthropology as a total occupation. Most of his writings are scholarly.
from the vantage point of anthropology. a book published by UNESCO in 1952 called Race et histoire: and the brilliant works on the kinship systems of primitives. more philosophical in character.collection of essays. Some of these writings suppose more familiarity with anthropological literature and with the concepts of linguistics. Le Totemism aujourd'hui (1962). For Lévi-Strauss has assembled. sociology. Les Structures élémentaires de la parenté (1949). And. one of the few interesting and possible intellectual positions—in the most general sense of the phrase. or memoir rather. It is rigorous. and on totemism. written over fifteen years after the event. it speaks with a human voice. Tristes Tropiques is one of the great books of our century. Ostensibly Tristes Tropiques is the record. But it would be a great pity if LéviStrauss's work. And one of his books is a masterpiece. I mean the incomparable Tristes Tropiques. were to find no more than a specialist audience in this country. but when translated into English and brought out here in 1961 was shamefully ignored. and psychology than the ordinary cultivated reader has. and bold in thought. entitled La Pensée Sauvage. It is beautifully written. subtle. a book which when published in France in 1955 became a best seller. like all great books." Anthropologists are fond of likening . of the author's experiences in the "field. when finally translated. it bears an absolutely personal stamp.
Dissatisfied with philosophy he soon gave up his teaching post. and Paul Nizan. as Professor of Anthropology. the ceremonious Caduveo who produce huge amounts of abstract painting and sculpture. on the city in the Old World and the New. on modernity. returned to Paris to study law. but in the way Lévi-Strauss uses his experience—to reflect on the nature of landscape. taught for a while in a provincial lycée. The key to the book is Chapter Six. Brazil. the materially splendid Bororo. before the second World War. But the greatness of Tristes Tropiques lies not simply in this sensitive reportage. he studied philosophy in the late Twenties. Lévi-Strauss lived among Indian tribes in the interior of Brazil. missionary . From 1935 to 1939. then began the study of anthropology.murdering Nambikwara.field research to the puberty ordeal which confers status upon members of certain primitive societies. de Beauvoir. on the idea of travel. like them. on sunsets. "How I Became . the TupiKawahib whom no white man had ever seen before. Lévi-Strauss's ordeal was in Brazil. during the long university vacations from November to March and then for longer periods of a year or more. Tristes Tropiques offers a record of his encounters with these tribes—the nomadic. on the connection between literacy and power. Born in 1908 and of the intellectual generation and circle which included Sartre. and. Merleau-Ponty. and in 1935 went to Sâo Paolo. on the meaning of physical hardship.
Yet sympathy is modulated throughout by a hardwon impassivity. The aim of Lucretius was not independent scientific knowledge. Like Montaigne's Essays and Freud's Interpretation of Dreams." where Lévi-Strauss finds in the history of his own choice a case study of the unique spiritual hazards to which the anthropologist subjects himself. haunted by the fear of bodily decay and death. the Graecophile Roman who urged the study of the natural sciences as a mode of ethical psychotherapy.an Anthropologist. provincial. an entire sensibility is elaborated. an exemplary personal history in which a whole view of the human situation. tormented by superstitions inspired by religion. Lucretius saw man as hurled between the pleasure of sex and the pain of emotional loss. it is an intellectual autobiography. He recommended scientific knowledge. LéviStrauss's aim is very much like that of Lucretius. and with a deadpan expression…the folly of the passions. Tristes Tropiques is an intensely personal book." Not for nothing is Tristes Tropiques prefaced by a motto from Lucretius's De Rerum Natura. which . In her autobiography Simone de Beauvoir recalls Lévi-Strauss as a young philosophy student-teacher expounding "in his detached voice. The profoundly intelligent sympathy which informs Tristes Tropiques makes all other memoirs about life among preliterate peoples seem ill-at-ease. but the reduction of emotional anxiety. defensive.
handsome Nambikwaras in 1915. syphilitic. "before they disappear. a way of learning to let go. is broken and crumbling before our eyes. ugly. when they were first visited by white missionaries. Hence. come as it were to lay their piety at the altar of the past since it cannot be offered to the future. but from certainty to systematic . Hopefully. "Let's go and study the primitives. the tropics are tristes. Anthropology is necrology. and almost extinct. There were nearly twenty thousand of the naked. today they are miserable. The past. anthropology brings a reduction of historical anxiety. It is interesting that many of LéviStrauss's students are reported to be former Marxists. They have moved not only from optimism to pessimism. psychological gracefulness. indigent.teaches intelligent detachment. nomadic." It is strange to think of these ex-Marxists— philosophical optimists if ever such have existed—submitting to the melancholy spectacle of the crumbling pre-historic past. equanimity." say Lévi-Strauss and his pupils. and a Lucretian feeling for knowledge as both consolation and necessary disenchantment. But for him the demon is history—not the body or the appetites. Lévi-Strauss sees man with a Lucretian pessimism. when Lévi-Strauss arrived in 1938 there were no more than two thousand of them. with its mysteriously harmonious structures.
research in the field. according to Lévi-Strauss. to the insults and denials inflicted on one's dearest ideas and habits by those ideas and habits which may contradict them to the highest degree. one's own intellectual uncertainties. is the mother and nursemaid of doubt. At the same time. even one's own ignorance. Anthropology conquers the estranging function of the intellect by institutionalizing it. It is one of the rare intellectual vocations which do not demand a sacrifice of one's manhood. Courage." In Lévi-Strauss's program for the practicing anthropologist in Structural Anthropology. the philosophical attitude par excellence. the urban academic world and the tropics. love of adventure. "where every ethnological career begins. and physical hardiness—as well as brains—are used by it." To be an anthropologist is thus to adopt a very ingenious stance via-à-vis one's own doubts.doubt. It also offers a solution to that distressing by-product of intelligence. The . "This 'anthropological doubt' consists not merely in knowing that one knows nothing but in resolutely exposing what one knows. the world is professionally divided into "home" and "out there. alienation. anthropology reconciles a number of divergent personal claims. For the anthropologist." the domestic and the exotic. LéviStrauss makes it clear that for him this is an eminently philosophical stance. For. the Cartesian method of doubt is installed as a permanent agnosticism.
fascinated repulsion towards its subject. He takes for granted the philistine formulas of modern scientific "value neutrality. Lévi-Strauss himself. Anthropology has always struggled with an intense. so far as his own country is concerned. aristocratic version of this neutrality. is sterilized politically. is a technique of political disengagement. The anthropologist in the field becomes the very model of the twentiethcentury consciousness: a "critic at home" but a "conformist elsewhere. Anthropology. A technique de dépaysement.anthropologist is not simply a neutral observer. he can only be a critical dissenting voice. The horror of the primitive (naively expressed by Frazer and Lévy-Bruhl) is never far from the anthropologist's consciousness. in Lévi-Strauss's conception. Lévi-Strauss marks the furthest reach of the . is by French standards an apolitical man. LéviStrauss calls his profession in Structural Anthropology. and even consciously exploiting. He is a man in control of." Lévi-Strauss acknowledges that this paradoxical spiritual state makes it impossible for the anthropologist to be a citizen. although in the most generic and very French way a man of the Left (he signed the famous Manifesto of the 121 which recommended civil disobedience in France in protest against the Algerian war). He cannot seek power. his own intellectual alienation." What he does is to offer an exquisite. The anthropologist.
" Lévi-Strauss insists in several essays on the profession and teaching of his subject in Structural Anthropology. but the judgment of "experienced members of the profession" who have undergone the same psychological ordeal. it must be emphasized that this literary-sounding conception of the anthropologist's calling—the twice-born spiritual adventurer." However. Freudian. Like Psychoanalysis." Nor does he have any axe—Christian. simply a modest data-collecting "observer. Not written tests. as a result of field work. like recent generations of American anthropologists. A spell in the field is the exact equivalent of the training analysis undergone by psychoanalysis. or otherwise—to grind. anthropology cannot be taught "purely theoretically.conquering of the aversion. accomplished that inner revolution that will really make him into a new man. By means of experience in the field. the anthropologist undergoes a "psychological revolution". rationalist. pledged to a systematic déracinement—is complemented in most of Lévi-Strauss's writings by an insistence on the most unliterary techniques of research. He is not. His important essay on myth in Structural Anthropology outlines a technique for analyzing the elements of myths so that these . can determine "if and when" a candidate anthropologist "has. The anthropologist in the manner of Lévi-Strauss is a new breed altogether.
to whom one would expect him to be allied.can be recorded on IBM cards. But his real affinity is clearly to the more avant-garde methodologies of economies. rather than a humanistic study. LéviStrauss pays lavish tribute throughout the essays in Structural Anthropology to the work of American anthropologists—particularly Lowie. for their insufficient empirical documentation. and game theory. At the expense of the French school (Durkheim. neurology. a doorway to paradise has been opened by the linguists. and Kroeber. like Roman Jakobson and his school. The question is only how. for their "humanist" weakness for covert culture criticism. Mauss. far from disdaining the American fondness for precise quantitative measurement of all traditional problems. For Lévi-Strauss. Lévi-Strauss's essays in Structural Anthropology certainly escape these strictures." But recently. Indeed. linguistics. LéviStrauss finds it not sophisticated or methodologically rigorous enough." he writes. there is no doubt that anthropology must be a science. Linguists now know how to . and their followers). "the humanities and the social sciences have resigned themselves to contemplate the world of the natural and exact sciences as a kind of paradise where they will never enter. European contributions to what in America are called the "social sciences" are in exceedingly low repute in this country. for their refusal to embrace the techniques of quantification as an essential tool of research. Boas. "For centuries.
The ambivalence toward the exotic. a given primitive society. by a curious and ambitious act of intellectual catharsis." Thus the man who submits himself to the exotic to confirm his own inner alienation as an urban intellectual ends by aiming to vanquish his subject by translating it into a purely formal code." Linguists—as well as economists and game theorists—have shown the anthropologist "a way to get out of the confusion resulting from too much acquaintance and familiarity with concrete data. as a man. Lévi-Strauss calls his thought "anecdotique et géometrique. In La Pensée Sauvage. The anthropologist. But he is also committed to recording and understanding his subject by a very high-powered mode of formal analysis— what Lévi-Strauss calls "structural" anthropology—which obliterates all traces of his personal experience and truly effaces the human features of his subject. completely similar to a natural-science experiment.reformulate their problems so that they can "have a machine built by an engineer and make a kind of experiment. but only given a complex restatement." The essays in Structural Anthropology show mostly the geometrical side of his thought: they are . the primitive. is engaged in saving his own soul." which will tell them "if the hypothesis is worthwhile or not. is not overcome after all.
" like Lévi-Strauss. the relation between myth and ritual. According to LéviStrauss. emphasize the artificiality of kinship rules. this is nonsense. for example. Thus. totemism. Anthropology cannot possibly get complete knowledge of the societies it studies. LéviStrauss and the structuralists. and the broom that sweeps everything clean is the notion of "structure. represented by such leading figures as Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. They would discuss kinship in terms of notions which admit of mathematical treatment. it studies only the formal features which differentiate one society from another. Anthropology can neither be a descriptive nor an inductive science.applications of a rigorous formalism to traditional themes—kinship systems. It has properly no interest in the biological basis. psychological content. Different societies assign different moves to . A great cleansing operation is in process. puberty rites. in short. empirical. while Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown argue. and so forth." Lévi-Strauss strongly dissociates himself from what he calls the "naturalistic" trend of British anthropology. According to Malinowski. the "structuralists. observation of a single primitive society will make it possible to understand the "universal motivations" present in all societies. following Kroeber and Lowie. that biological ties are the origin of and the model for every kinship tie. would view society like a chess game. or social function of institutions and customs.
perhaps the most striking example of Lévi-Strauss's theoretical agnosticism is his view of myth. The only difference is that this logic is applied to different problems. anthropology proves nothing about human nature except the need for order itself.the players. according to LéviStrauss." The analogy between anthropology and linguistics is the leading theme of the essays in Structural Anthropology. To the general reader of Structural Anthropology. say. religion and social structure. the anthropologist can view a ritual or a taboo simply as a set of rules. Specific narratives are exposed as logical designs for the description and possibly the softening of the rules of the social game when they give rise to a tension or contradiction. is a language. without any psychological content or any necessary connection with rite. a vocabulary and grammar of order. Contrary to Mircea Eliade. Thus. There are only models showing the variability of one in relation to the other. his most distinguished opponent in the theory . For LéviStrauss. paying little attention to "the nature of the partners (either individuals or groups) whose play is being patterned after these rules. He treats myth as a purely formal mental operation. All behavior. There is no universal truth about the relations between. the logic of mythic thought is fully as rigorous as that of modern science. there is no one right way to play chess.
the antithesis of Lévi-Strauss is Sartre. a baroque and didactic and insolent writer whose ego effaces all objective narrative. over-rich style stuffed with metaphors and conceits. Sartre. always has the manners (which are often bad manners) of the enthusiast. Lévi-Strauss sees no difference in quality between the scientific thinking of modern "historical" societies and the mythic thinking of prehistoric communities. who is the master of games and artifices. whose characters are stages in a masturbatory revel. the only interesting and challenging critic of Sartrean existentialism and phenomenology. But I should say that he is. But there is another tradition in French thought and sensibility—the cult of froideur. of a rich. I am not convinced by Lévi-Strauss's arguments against Sartre. since the death of Merleau-Ponty. The demonic character which history and the notion of historical consciousness has for LéviStrauss is best exposed in his brilliant and savage attack on Sartre. in the last chapter of La Pensée Sauvage. Not only in his ideas. l'esprit géometrique. with his philosophical and political dogmatisms. but in his entire sensibility. his inexhaustible ingenuity and clotted style. . It is entirely apt that the writer who has aroused Sartre's greatest enthusiasm is Jean Genet.of primitive religion. This tradition is represented.
the distance of a personal experience of fifteen years ago. Sometimes the result is a masterpiece like Tristes Tropiques. the . But in the rest of these books. Like the formalists of the "new novel" and film. The horror of the rape. are the steely casing for an immense but thoroughly subdued pathos. their narrow dehydrated subject-matter and cool microscopic styles and. The formula for this tradition—in which I would locate Lévi-Strauss. as I would put Sartre with Genet—is the mixture of pathos and coldness. and with a sureness of feeling and fact that allows the readers' emotions more rather than less freedom. the director of the great Nuit et Brouillard as well as Hiroshima Mon Amour. Alain Robbe-Grillet.among the new novelists. the final and irrevocable destruction of preliterate peoples taking place throughout the world today—which is the true subject of LéviStrauss's book—is told at a certain distance. the lucid and brilliantly compassionate documentarist has been overwhelmed by the aesthete. among film makers. The tropics are not merely sad. and Michel Butor. by Nathalie Sarraute." his extreme formalism and intellectual agnosticism. Lévi-Strauss's emphasis on "structure. and Muriel. L'Année Dernière à Marienbad. The very title is an understatement. so different from Genet in their search for an infinite precision. They are in agony. by Alain Resnais.
taken in themselves. Radically anti-historicist. This degree of intellectual agnosticism is surely extraordinary. meaningless.) mean nothing. in favor of a formal exploration of the structure of an emotion. As in language. It is exactly in this spirit that LéviStrauss applies the methods of "structural analysis" to traditional materials of empirical anthropology. myths.formalist. where the sounds which make up words are. and (more surprisingly) a vision of social perfection. The whole point of the new novels and films coming out of France today is to suppress the story. the old man at the crossroad. the marriage with the mother. and taboo are a language. his extreme formalism is a moral choice. And one does not have to espouse a Freudian or a sociological interpretation of the elements of myth to contest it. Only when put together in the total context do the parts have a meaning—the meaning that a logical model has. but it is unknown to us. he insists that the parts of the myth (the lost child. the blinding. rites. he refuses to differentiate between "primitive" and "historical" societies. however. etc. in its traditional psychological or social meaning. When analyzing the Oedipus myth. And historical . Any serious critique of Lévi-Strauss. Customs. must deal with the fact that. so the parts of a custom or a rite or a myth (according to LéviStrauss) are meaningless in themselves. ultimately. Primitives have a history.
would once again be able to assume that regular and quasi-crystalline structure which.consciousness (which they do not have). placed outside and above history. The anthropologist is thus not only the . and society. the best-preserved primitive societies teach us. harmonious. and from "the age-old curse which forced it to enslave men in order to make progress possible. In his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France. The hot societies are the modern ones. static. he argues in the attack on Sartre. is not contradictory to humanity. over which social anthropology would have a mission to stand watch. is not a privileged mode of consciousness. They would correspond to a permanent possibility of man. especially in man's darkest hours. The cold societies are the primitive ones." Then: history would henceforth be quite alone. crystalline. would be a great lowering of the historical temperature. Lévi-Strauss outlined a post-Marxist vision of freedom in which man would finally be freed from the obligation to progress. driven by the demons of historical progress. since the forms of life and thought which it studies would no longer be of mere historic and comparative interest. It is in this admittedly Utopian view that social anthropology would find its highest justification. There are only what he revealingly calls "hot" and "cold" societies. for Lévi-Strauss. Utopia.
The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Please contact web@nybooks. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. email icon Email to a friend Notes  It is shortly to be reissued by Atheneum in paperback. but its custodian as well. diligent. and complex modern pessimism. Inc.mourner of the cold world of the primitives. he acts out a heroic. . Letters January 23. All rights reserved. struggling to distinguish the archaic from the pseudoarchaic. 2009. Groaning among the shadows.com with any questions about this site. NYREV. 1964: Arnold Tovell. Levi-Strauss Search the Review Advanced search Little Bookroom / Budapest NYR Holiday Subscription Special Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008.
Through the middle of the book the reader's attention is fixed almost exclusively on Athens. part exposition. Number 8 · December 12. $5. Finley is not always free from this fault. Opinions are boldly and trenchantly stated. philosophy. 177 pp.I. "This is a personal analysis. at least. He has given a general account. of the "classical" Greeks from the heroic age down to their absorption into the Roman Empire. Here is an example (p." something of its variations in politics.00 Dr. Finley has managed to include a great deal in this compact book. writers of general introductions to Greek life tend to give the beginner an impression that Athens was the only state where anything worth while was going on. and the arts. Since for the fifth century. There is necessarily some skimping.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. part narrative. Dr. Finley Viking. the rise of the polis or "city state. 1963 Brief Encounter By Richmond Lattimore The Ancient Greeks: An Introduction to their Life and Thought by M. religion. science. literature. 31): . we know more about Athens than about all the rest of the Greek states put together." he says in his preface..
sometimes the absence of specific reference is irritating). despite their "particularism. in so brief a discussion of vast issues. not a place of worship. outside the temples— everywhere. the latter conspicuous by its failure. in the homes and fields. that is. Finley's concept of nomos seems to me too narrow. we don't even know whether he was married. their mutual conduct within the family. but not inside a temple The chapter on Greek science and technology. "The law is king" (p. the way they married and the way they buried. is brilliant. The rituals by which one gave thanks to the Olympic gods or pleaded with them or appeased them required no temple but an altar. Dr. Of course. In general. and the gods they worshipped and how they did it. this or that reader will find cause for disagreement. 41) is not a good rendering of nomos ho panton basileus (if that is what it is meant to represent. Finley underestimates (p. Many conclusions are bluntly stated rather than argued." He does not. the nomoi of the Greeks include not only their laws but the way they dressed and dined and the food they ate. 35). but despite . in the places of assembly.…the temple was a house for a god. perhaps the best in the book. Here. A simple case is on page 16: "he [Hesiod] tells us all about himself. and altars existed everywhere." there is a remarkable degree of pan-Hellenic homogeneity which I think Dr.
NYREV. All rights reserved. . Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. It is enlightening. 2009. I find this book more than stimulating.my not infrequent personal disagreements. Please contact web@nybooks. Inc. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15.com with any questions about this site. NYR Holiday Subscription Special email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search Little Bookroom / Pudlo Series Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008.
W. who delivers himself of the contents of the book while in confinement awaiting trial for murder. Male humming birds make the most exquisite rockets. for example. His muse materializes only intermittently." he says. His are "occassional poems" in the most invidious sense possible. to calm his restless Lolita he improvises a bit of what he tells her is "nonsense verse. Dupee Vladimir NabokovVladimir Nabokov by David Levine Readers of Lolita may recall that Humbert Humbert. is something of a poet. and you can count on this particular murderer for scattered flights of verse as well. 1963 Nabokov: the Prose and Poetry of It All By F.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. . Hoping." The Squirl and his Squirrel. and when she does it is in response to situations of a kind that do not. Number 8 · December 12. as a rule. give rise to la poèsie pure—or whatever we may call the opposite of occasional poetry. the Rabs and their Rabbits Have certain obscure and peculiar habits. "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
H.The snake when he walks holds his hands in his pockets. "Nonsense is correct. Humbert says . "Why blue when it is white. Humbert succeeds no better with Rita. why blue for heaven's sake?" she protests and starts crying again.W. such as that "light verse" has been made respectable by Mr. and one who knows her time is short. One stanza reads: NYR Holiday Subscription Special Happy. happy is gnarled McFate Touring the States with a child wife. double-entendres. full of literary allusions. like other of Nabokov's creatures. and straight French. a temporary replacement for Lolita. with which he writes to console himself for the loss of Lolita. Humbert's lengthiest effort is a ballad. foreign or nutty or both. As poet. Auden and that poetry of any weight lends itself nicely to depth analysis. He tries to stop her accusing sobs by extemporizing some verses about a certain "blue hotel" they have just motored past. Humbert. has a flair for knowing what is going on in the American literary world. Plowing his Molly in every State Among the protected wild life. His own analyst." Lolita says mockingly perhaps guessing that Humbert's weakness for nymphets like herself lends the poem a certain "obscure and peculiar" sense which she would prefer to ignore.
and death: Because you took advantage of a sinner because you took advantage because you took because you took advantage of my disadvantage… .g. and that to write a poem one need only catalogue phenomena in impressive numbers. stiff. STELLA. FLASHMAN. When. gun in hand. "A poem. IRVING. he does so in the accents of a certain poem. etc. he delivers sentence on his rival Clare Quilty prior to shooting him dead. DOLORES). for whom I am sorry. of that American specialty. too. forsooth!" he exclaims. well known to the literary world. surnames and first names intriguingly reversed for the purpose of alphabetization (e." Nor does Humbert's muse desert him on the ultimate occasion.of his ballad: "It is really a maniac's masterpiece. and goes on to imagine the occupants of the classroom: "Adorable Stella.. Irving. lurid rhymes correspond very exactly to certain perspectiveless and terrible landscapes and figures…as drawn by psychopaths in tests devised by astute trainers. a poem. The stark. about sin. penitence. who has let strangers touch her. FANTAZIA. HAZE. the belief that poetry inheres in phenomena themselves rather than in the poet." He is aware. So he pounces upon a mimeographed list of names of Lolita's classmates.
His forthcoming translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin will conceivably stand as his main poetic achievement. including lust. For years he has been going on about Pushkin ("the gold reserve of our literature"). James Joyce. it would seem. meanwhile preparing us for the magnum opus by translating other Russian poets. as minor as verse could be and still remain interesting. Humbert with an approving. revenge. The reflections are of major importance." says Quilty. For Humbert. He might even be said to prostitute his muse. when he came to live in the United States and started publishing in English. He brings to poetry and the informal criticism of poetry the same spirit of connoisseurship which fills his work as a whole—an impassioned connoisseurship that unites the naturalist in him with the literary artist and does duty. he contributed a . He has a mind too rich to be impoverished by ideas. The uses of poetry for Nabokov are high. Like that other master of prose. and the hope of a check from The New Yorker. the verse—the verse in English at least—is minor. though not so high as to rule out the efforts of those who are compelled into song by mixed motives. if captive. the uses of poetry are rather low. More than Joyce did."That's damned good. he has continued to write verse and to fill his novels with reflections on poetry. providing. for doctrine. audience at last. Nabokov aspired in youth to be a poet. Before 1939.
tells us this was Nabokov's own pen name as a poet—he signed his novels V. Mr. The Gift is a delightful novel. in the past as." were collected in a miniature volume succinctly entitled Poems (1959). Between 1943 and 1957 he wrote the fourteen poems which. his most recent novel in English (1962). With The Gift as a main text.number of poems to Russian émigré periodicals in Europe. described as "his complete poetic works in English. So far as I am aware. A young poet formidably named Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev is the hero. at present. Sirin. and of lengthy notes ostensibly supplied by a European-born editor. The last novel Nabokov wrote in Russian has lately come out in English—authentic Nabokovian English. It is also invaluable for what it tells us about its author's relation to poetry and to prose. to the extent that we can do so in short space and with no knowledge of Russian. consists of a long poem. no one has pointed out that the book is a sort of hail and farewell to the poetic muse considered as a full time companion. however. let us inquire into those relations. I venture. The Gift has been widely and pleasantly reviewed during the months since it appeared. ostensibly written by an American poet. Stanley Edgar Hyman. or quasi-poem. Pale Fire. (One of The Gift's best reviewers.) An émigré Russian who has forfeited much to the Bolsheviks—a country .
imagining the fine reviews his recently published book of poems will get. a little anthology of his poems. probably a father. recalling his Russian childhood. losing his keys. the . he has a distinct "gift" for it. getting his clothes stolen at the Grünewald swimming lake. each of which (including a square dot) was shaded laterally with black paint—a dishonest attempt to climb into the next dimension.estate. giving stupid Germans reluctant Russian lessons. mingling diffidently with his quarrelsome fellow exiles. The first chapter is. Fyodor lives an exile's desultory life in Berlin. among other things. and a capacity for hallucination which verges on secular mysticism. but the ball is gone… Knocked from its hiding place by a poker. They are about things remembered from his childhood in Russia. On the floor a candle Tugs at the ends of the shadows This way and that. a charming craze for words. moving from furnished room to furnished room. His life is almost as unreal as the phenomenon we find him scrutinizing on the novel's first page: a moving van with "the name of the moving company in yard-high blue letters. My ball has rolled under Nurse's commode. writing verses." Fyodor seeks to climb into the next dimension by the frail but not dishonest ladder of poetry alone. possibly a future as a native writer. True. a St. Petersburg town house.
As the novel unfolds. Busch." The long line nicely reproduces the effect of the ball's trip across the room. young Anaximines told me. THIRD PROSTITUTE All is number. There is the tragedy (or tragic farce) of the young poet Yasha. There is the pure farce of Mr. philosophical tragedy. FOURTH PROSTITUTE Heracles[*] caresses me whispering "All is fire.ball "Crosses the whole room and promptly goes under/The impregnable sofa. SECOND PROSTITUTE All is air. My bald Pythagoras cannot be wrong. whose hopeless attachment to a German youth of the blond and blue-eyed type forms. a grim parody of Thomas Mann. he reads his "new. incidentally. we see Fyodor's situation —which resembles the ball's—reflected back at him in various ways by people around him. That is what my client Phales[*] says. a recent suicide. and includes the following conversation in a "Street of Sin": FIRST PROSTITUTE All is water. But the ball remains lost." It is Faust out of Brand out of Busch. a Latvian with pretensions to poetry. Before an audience choking with stifled laughter." .
of course. but in very. the celebrated social critic of the 1860's. Fyodor abandons verse. For these projects. wooing instead "the Muse of Russian prose-rhythms. during an imaginary conversation with an older poet he respects.LONE COMPANION (enters) All is fate. he hears the man say: "By the way. made for similar reasons on Sainte-Beuve. not in miniature verse with charms and chimes. the life of Chernyshevski. the victim of an accident or of the Bolsheviks. Actually. Lenin's mentor. a celebrated naturalist who has vanished on a scientific expedition to Asia. is of recent discovery and could not therefore have been in Nabokov's mind during the years 1935-37 . they are but models of your future novels. first the final days of his beloved father. at the start of his career as a serious writer. But Contre Sainte-Beuve (which." His assault on Chernyshevski's crude version of the liberal imagination strangely foreshadows the assault that Proust. and in The Gift the parodies tend to be better than the poems. father of Russian utilitarianism." Fyodor explains. incidentally. second. "There is no great poetry without parody." He stops trying to recapture his own childhood and undertakes to recreate in words. So Fyodor begins to feel that he will eventually want "to speak in quite another way. I've read your very remarkable volume of poems. very different manly words…" Indeed.
" he asks. The Gift is a comparatively early work. It is one of those superlatively dreary interiors." the portrait is really part of Fyodor's attempt to contemplate Russian history without nostalgia—that nostalgia. which in the course of progress toward the objective had grown more and more evident. so crabbed and gray. the mature Nabokov is in command. in Nabokov's view. After all. along with a poetic sensibility. Fyodor and Zina meet in a setting that is prosaic with a vengeance. the advantages of good prose. "Why. until it was revealed that this 'light' was burning in the window of a prison overseer. and that was all?" But Fyodor's attempt to climb into the next dimension depends on other things than writing. how could she have become so befooled and befuddled? Or had the old 'urge toward the light' concealed a fatal flaw. "had everything in Russia become so shoddy. Rejected by a publisher as "a syringe of sulphuric acid. so often ends in paranoia. Zina embodies. hardworking girl who loves him and his poems. though.when The Gift was written) is the tirade of tyro when compared to Nabokov-Fyodor's explosive yet touching portrait of Chernyshevski. her name being Zina Mertz. intelligent. with a pretty. a somewhat mechanical way of contriving its games of reality and appearance. as he does after many false steps. In most respects. He must unite himself. Is this putting it too neatly? The novel itself has a rather pat way of making its points. which. epitomized by .
may be overstating things. This feeling for the commonplace at its commonest shows that his affinity with Joyce equals his affinity (more obvious in The Gift) with Proust.S." This. which Nabokov loves to swoop down on. it is true. "A Literary Dinner" is Charles Addams glorified. Fyodor writes a poem addressed to Zina but printed in prose." Nevertheless. This enlargement of a traditional form is made possible by his campaign to re-design the English language. and yonder star above the Volga glows!" Thus. again. "Look at that street—it runs to China straight. the poet and the prose writer come together. are. whether in Berlin or the U.the communal bathroom and the communal bar of soap with the single hair in it. in a fashion. The poem turns on a misunderstanding such as might occur . the man and the woman. the exile and his homeland.A. "the poet goes beyond the limits of his art without violating its canon. His prosody is a unique and subtle parody of the original. all but two of them first printed in The New Yorker. of a kind called "lapidary. precise wit. the glow of a lighted candle cupped in an expert hand against the windy verse roundabout. Need we conclude that Nabokov has "sacrificed" poetry to prose? I doubt it. The English poems do have a peculiar small excellence: perfect lucidity. The English poems. from the high-wire of fantasy. Nathaniel Reicheck has suggested. as Mr. but not by much..
" the lecturer goes on to exemplify it in several asides. soft participles coming down the steps. treading on leaves. My back is Argus-eyed. Referring to the Russian poets' "passion for expansion. False shadows turn to track me as I pass… Beyond the seas where I have lost a sceptre I hear the neighing of my dappled nouns. hungry. Such a nice foreign guest.between a hostess whose enunciation was unclear and a foreign guest whose ear was imperfectly tuned to slurred English. amid dull talk at the table. to eat Dr. crisp cerebellum lum. . and liquid verbs in ahla and in ili. James. obliging. James. trailing their rustling gowns. he does eat Dr. For wit mingled with lyrical delight. by turns paranoiac and nostalgic in mood. The heart resembled a shiny brown date." And so. but the tastiest part was his nut-flavored. All was good and well-cooked. I live in danger. and I stowed all his studs on the edge of my plate. and neat. she murmured. "I want you. "An Evening of Russian Poetry" comes closest to being "great"—besides being a helpful treatise on versification.
of John Shade's poem.ling still. The sot a hero. but now 'tis covered by a hand and dies… While writing these verses Nabokov was elaborating the English prose which. lunatic a king. the father tries to convey his grief. his thoughts on death in general. Mary McCarthy has said much about the book in her remarkable analysis and panegyric in The New Republic. seems to lie in the inflamed yet often beautiful writing of Kinbote's editorial notes and the paler fires. Kinbote's eloquence. adding that . rhetorically speaking.Aonian grottoes. But he breaks the lines midway. I mean. the cripple sing. But he cannot rise either to Pope's scarifying realism or to the dashing architectonics of Pope's verse. Distressed by his daughter's suicide. for the point of the novel. The empty glass I touched is tink. One need only add a few words on Shade's poem. the almost paranoid eloquence of Pale Fire. nights in the Altal. would culminate in the controlled sinuosities of Lolita. sometimes out of hand in Bend Sinister. the intermittent beauties. in a kind of Popian four-part epistle constructed of the appropriate couplets. black pools of sound with "I"s for water lilies. somewhat subdued in Sebastian Knight. Shade starts to quote the great lines from the Essay on Man: See the blind beggar dance.
rarely get together." are finally put to work by Uncle Novus. So the poem maunders along. Some of those future novels of which Fyodor's . "Scenes from the Life of a Double Monster."they smack of a heartless age. just as the Siamese twins in the story. Nabokov has done the same with the poet-novelist in him. the duality may be made to work for him." The inner subject is the blindness of Shade's grief. now elegiac. Shade is a portrait of the poet as rustic American." his living "in danger. of his nature. Thus he has been able to perfect an English prose medium whose flexibility is adapted to the astonishing range. his helplessness before the extremities of passion and death. however. As so often in our author's books. The rustic American poet could use some of Kinbote's passion—but instead gets the bullet intended for Kinbote. it takes two men to make a Nabokovian man—two men who. who imagines the poem is about him and his "lost sceptre. the spiritual deformity which was his daughter's sole inheritance from him but which the singing cripple and the crippled Pope do not share. With a writer. penetrating in other spots. now cheery. if he is a genius. lovely in spots. of Nature itself. It clothes itself in a simulacrum of Popian couplets without attaining to the hard antitheses. which are the prosodic mirror of Pope's tougher mind." The poem has an inner subject that goes unperceived by either Shade or his editor. made of them a team. the endless contradictions. the decisive pauses.
others may follow. Inc. .com with any questions about this site. All rights reserved. NYREV. After the translation of Pushkin's novel in verse.poems were the models have. already come into being. Please contact web@nybooks. we know. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. that Thales becomes Phales and Heraclitus becomes Heracles. 2009. not the proofreader's. Search the Review Advanced search NYR Holiday Subscription Special NYRB Children's Picture Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. email icon Email to a friend Notes [*] It is Busch's fault.
and everything else that [you do] not need.R. 1963 Bogus Togas By M.75 Towards the middle of the second century B. on the other hand. he insisted..The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. 531 pp. the slave that is diseased. Cowell Praeger. but excessive meanness of character. $11.. 228 pp.I. "Sell the old work oxen." This passage evoked in Plutarch several angry pages: this is not mere miserliness." he recommended.. $5. He acknowledges that some of the slaves lived and worked in chains. the skins. "we are not to suppose that the master employed such methods because he liked them. he adds. De Agricultura. but.S. on the management of large estates operated with slave labor. Professor Grimal. the worn-out iron tools. Finley The Civilization of Rome by Pierre Grimal.C. Number 8 · December 12. translated by W. finds no room for the passage in the five pages he devotes to Cato's book. Maguiness Simon and Schuster. Cato the Censor wrote a manual. the aged slave.50 The Revolutions of Ancient Rome by F. "the wool. the old wagon." Elsewhere (in reviewing Michael .
The gladiatorial shows? Yes. The spectators consisted mainly of the . in which both sides butchered thousands of their opponents in the streets of Rome? They get a single sentence and the word "proscription" does not appear in the index. that was pretty shocking. It is by such special pleading alone that it is possible to reach the remarkable conclusion that "Rome was the most marvelously humane society that the world had hitherto known.Grant's The World of Rome) he expanded that point in a most revealing way: Is it just to state that "there is no trace of humanity in Cato"…? The book on Agriculture is just a handbook about the best way to make money." What about the proscriptions under Marius and Sulla. gladiatorial contests were of foreign origin… The best of the Romans are unlikely to have derived any pleasure from them. Cato has no intention of passing judgment on the human values of a system firmly established around him—and it is conceivable that even a good businessman might be humane in his private life… We are told that some of the most bloodthirsty jurists of the past have been kind men. but— NYR Holiday Subscription Special it would be unjust to denounce it as a fault peculiar to the Latins of Rome. devoted to their friends and quite amiable. As we have already said.
" yet his assassination was "irresponsible folly. packed with men from all the Mediterranean lands. Cowell shares it with Professor Grimal though he judges Rome through spectacles of another tint. Does he really believe that the pure-blooded senators of the . "never again were free institutions to flourish in Rome.city plebs. Mr. Here was a silent revolution which did more to alter the whole tone and quality of Roman civilization than all the political revolutions put together. properly speaking. beastly or ruthless" like "dictators of our recent memory. The great popularity of gladiatorial contests dates precisely from the period when the plebs had ceased to be. Caesar may not have been "mentally diseased. personally contemptible." All that Mr. after Caesar. Cowell can offer in explanation of the mess is a change in "the general 'set' and direction of mind" behind the process by which freedmen and their descendants grew in numbers to swamp the descendants of free Romans. Cowell has read his Livy. Mr. Marius had a "coarse foul nature". Sulla "was worse"." but his seizure of power was a "personal revolution" in which "constructive measures were few". Roman… This racist defence—let us not mince words: that is what it is in its purest form—is an old story in the writing of Roman history.
without raising the question of what is happening to reputable publishing. less brutal.377 and 395). Grimal.early books were less ruthless.D." With that wholly meaningless remark we have attained a new kind of Nirvana. more humane than Cato or Marius or Sulla. all of whom were. There are good maps and charts and a large number of useful pictures. (extending between pp. No fewer than 48 pages are occupied by chronological tables in six columns. I cannot rest there. however. a Greek like many of the Roman slaves and freedmen. Then comes the padding. Professor Grimal's text occupies less than 300 pages.C. the "conspirators who smote him in the name of freedom…were obedient to the very logic of Rome. so far as we know. the quality of which may be illustrated by the fact that the column headed "Cultural Events outside Italy" has exactly eight entries between 200 B. The translation from the French is good. "Caesar was not Rome. untainted "descendants of free Romans"? Or that Plutarch. and 15 A. the state of complete emptiness. of which five record the erection of buildings and a . "The general 'set' and direction of mind" is not something which just lives or dies or changes in mysterious ways all by itself." proclaims Professor. had a weaker moral fiber than the foul Marius? These are not useful categories of historical analysis in this naked form.
Most of the books are in French. sometimes not." In place of a traditional index there is a "historical and biographical dictionary" of nearly 100 pages. no serious effort has been made to check the latest editions.C. "so-called La Tene III Celtic civilization. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search . At $11.50 a buyer is entitled to some consideration and even some expense.. These are chiefly technical matters that any good research assistant could cope with. available English translations are sometimes indicated but usually not. some of which is useful but much of which merely repeats information already given in the main body of the book. The lengthy bibliography is altogether useless for the audience to which the book is directed. and the same is true of dimensions. German and Italian. I should say.sixth is the absurd entry under the year 100 B. The notes on the plates are equally shoddy: dates are sometimes given. such as Michael Grant's or Rostovtzeff's Rome or Westermann's book on ancient slavery are omitted. an English firm in the first instance). I do not know who prepared all this apparatus but the final responsibility is the publisher's (in this case. many completely outdated. some of the most useful English works.
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$5. 280 pp. Number 8 · December 12.T.95 Russian Science Fiction An Anthology. And yet the evidence is strong that the same sort of people like both sorts of thing. science fiction appears to be more toughminded.The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1. (Nasty footnote on the two cultures: It is said that M. it would be hard to tell whether a rather typical kind of anti-literary..00 The distinctions between true science fiction and what is called fantasy literature are zealously guarded even by consumers of the magazines which publish both sorts of material. In general.. decided to start up a decent humanities program when a shockingly high percentage of a group of . 244 pp. know-nothing. 1963 Science Fiction By John Hollander A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay Macmillan. by Robert Magidoff New York University. would gravitate more towards one than another. and its aficionados tend to think of the fantasy product as being somehow intellectually inferior. do-it-yourself American intelligence. ed. $4. that of an engineer or a technician.I.
a science . there will be a conscious effort to create such a mythological cosmos. P. in a writer like H. Sometimes. techniques and equations it substitutes elves. fantasy literature. In general. mood is favored over the structural gimmick of science fiction." From another point of view it might appear that fantasy uses the traditional imaginative materials of romance and ghoststory. for example. fantasy makes a point of flouting these. too. for a furniture of robots. it is a moot point whether never having read anything good would make one prefer science fiction's gimmickry or fantasy's romantic corn. by and large. and an Unnatural Presence is. inheriting along with these a moral climate in which beauty is virtue. and very often weaker. image triumphs over idea. broomsticks. never strays too far from the Victorian-Gothic world shadowed by latent sexuality. The two genres are easily distinguished. So that while. despite its literary sources—the mythopoeia of the English romantic poets. in the writing. Indeed. Lovecraft. But in general. a Bad Thing. Fantasy is imaginatively "softer" than science fiction. Kingsley Amis has remarked that "while science fiction maintains a respect for fact or presumptive fact. spaceships. unlike much good science fiction. at worst. occult powers and incantations. and shrilly defiant of science. just as.students interviewed declared that the book that had been most important to them was The Robe).
seems to have more in common. William Golding. The legitimate projections of fantasy would perhaps be in the novels of Charles Williams. and turned on the m'zorgzabber" and allowing the donnée or gimmick gradually to dawn upon him. a fantasy story will usually end up as a bad poem. or in The Man Who was Thursday. Eugene Zamiatin before him. for example. A fictional counterpart of this is the use by Conrad. more recently. What Orwell and particularly Golding realized was that this discovery on the reader's part about just what in heaven was going on. starting out in medias res with something like "Lopp looked up at the moons. could be turned into a complicated kind of anagnorisis for very different purposes. are illuminated by means of the technical devices of science fiction. in the Tolkien trilogy. Huxley and. creaking along on some traditional science fiction donnée invented by a writer back in the Thirties. The basic science fiction narrative and dramatic method involves projecting the reader directly into a hypothetical world. Golding. in a book like The Inheritors. as a matter of fact. with this latter group: tragedy and its moral world. NYRB / Chrysalids Holiday The sub-literary genre of science fiction has contributed to the history of the novel by providing models for Orwell. but for vastly different ends. decided it was time to leave. and .fiction story will be a bungled bit of slickmagazine drivel.
A Voyage to Arcturus. I can't help quoting the first sentence: "On a March evening at eight o'clock.Faulkner following him. the Hampstead residence of Montague Faull. in short. In science fiction pure and simple. J. all that the fog of improbability can generate is something its contemporary authors can think of as "mood". The opening is unquestionably that of fantasy kitsch (and having mentioned Perelman. Maskull. Perelman) looks at first like an inept borderline case.") After a chapter of this Sax Rohmer-minus nonsense. Backhouse. in which the story's protagonist. But in fantasy fiction. the English author" (this sounds like a prank of S. of narrative murk. we get some substandard science fiction. the effect is to allow the reader's gradual doping-out of the puzzle to stand for the transition from naturalism to the world of the story: a coathook on which to hang his disbelief. first published in 1920 and written by someone its American publishers inadequately represent on the jacket as "David Lindsay. the medium—a fast-rising star in the psychic world —was ushered into the study at Prolands. But here the effect is melodrama. the device that causes the reader to keep flipping back through the previous twenty pages to find out if he's missed an earlier reference. a companion named Nightspore and an interstellar visitor named Krag head toward one of the planets of Arcturus in a ship powered by the pull of light (a reciprocal of its .
Maskull. the inhabitants become more and more confusing about the nature of the two deities. now alone. But after landing on the planet Tormance and meeting its English-speaking humanoid inhabitants. loosely allegorizing states of human consciousness rather than ethical abstractions. Milton and the Romantics. or forces. one must assume. This is no Charles Williams world. Rather it is an original mythical landscape. For a bit of ludicrous rubbish is transformed into a rather moving heroic poem. They inhabit a spiritual universe apparently divided by a Manichaean struggle for sway between one Muspel and one Crystalman. The world through which Maskull moves has a basically earthlike geography and its inhabitants are individuals rather than tribal groups or societies. in which you can always tell the good guys from the bad guys. One wonders what readers accustomed to science fiction or fantasy. will make of a journey among unfallen men over a landscape having more in common with parts of The Fail of Hyperion and .pressure) and exceeding. As the protagonist journeys toward understanding of his predicament. a prose romance deeply rooted in an English poetic tradition embracing Spenser. enters another literary realm. where the blacks and whites of eschatological light blot out the muted colors of the light of common day. even its tractor in velocity. acquiring new organs of perception at various stages of his journey.
in any respectable . Not so in the Soviet Union. Nor is Mr. for we are given no dates of appearance of these tales. in which the complex identity relations between Muspel. with colors and shapes taken from Prometheus Unbound.The Four Zoas (Blake is. I don't think that such a book could have been written in the guise of science fiction after the Second World War. Robert Magidoff has compiled and Doris Johnson has edited an anthology of Russian science fiction stories that certainly include elements of both traditions. It is a little hard to judge some of these against Anglo-American standards. through two excellent pieces by Ivan Yefremov. Maskull. which could appear. however. The genre developed to such a degree that the inept opening would have disqualified it. Nightspore. mutatis mutandis. I think. and the mixture of fantasy and science fiction would be considered passé. The final resolution. There appears to be a chronological span from a story by Alexander Belyaev. an extremely strong influence here). and Krag are all resolved. is far from being a traditional Christian one. Crystalman. being far less shrewd and ineisive than those of Issac Asimov (despite their unfortunate prose mannerisms) to a similar pair of anthologies available in Collier Books paper format. which wouldn't hold up very well against what was being written here in the late Thirties. Magidoff's introduction of much help on this or any score.
with respect to this literary form anyway. The most recent story in the collection is Dudintsev's "New Year's Fable. Please contact web@nybooks." which doesn't belong there at all. . 2009. But if one can guess about dates from the technological advances in the stories.com with any questions about this site. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the publisher. email icon Email to a friend Letters January 23. 1964: Oskar Anderson. All rights reserved. NYREV. The cover date of the next issue will be January 15. Science Fiction Search the Review Advanced search NYR Holiday Subscription Special Books = Gifts Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Copyright © 1963-2008. the Russians seem to be closing the sophistication gap at last.American periodical (the ideology is troped in rather elegantly. Inc. and the appropriate American lib-lab material could easily be substituted).
Cigarettes began to be manufactured extensively around the turn of the century. It is a history which is also strikingly briet.. as well as pipes and cigars. They were easily portable.S. but it was not until as recently as 1921 that cigarettes overtook chewing tobacco. Unlike the great majority of .The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1.. Inc.50 (paper) The lamentable history of the cigarette is that of a mortally corrupting addiction having been embraced by millions of people in the spirit of childlike innocence. in per capita consumption. The popularity of cigarettes was inevitable and overwhelming. and they were inhalable. They were cheap to manufacture. 222 pp. Number 9 · December 26. 1963 The Habit By William Styron The Consumers Union Report on Smoking and the Public Interest by Ruth Brecher.. distributed by Simon and Schuster. nor messy like pipes and cigars. and the 1930s were well along before cigarette smoking became the accepted thing for ladies. Consumers Union of the U. $1. by Edward Brecher et al. They did not look gross and unseemly in a lady's mouth. They were not offensive in close quarters.
the very fact of inhalation seems to enhance the cigarette's addictive power. The effect this knowledge has had upon the public consciousness may be suggested by the fact that sales this year reached the galactic sum of one-half trillion cigarettes—one hundred billion more than in 1953. few suspected the consequences in terms of health until long after cigarette smoking had gained its colossal momentum. and for the first time well-publicized. It is the very recentness of the phenomenon which helps make it so shocking. The hard truth is that human beings have never in such a brief space of time. Further. rhythmic savagery. That this type of autocontamination is a major cause of lung cancer —that it is also a prime causative factor in deaths from coronary artery disease. only a decade ago. emphysema. Unhappily. asthma. inflicting upon themselves in miniature a particularly abrasive form of air pollution. among other afflictions—was established. embraced a habit whose unwholesome effects would not only totally outweigh the meager satisfactions. There is something historically intimidating in the idea that cigarette smoking as a mass diversion and a raging increase in lung cancer have both come about during the lifetime of those who are now no more than fifty years old.pipe and cigar smokers. but would . most cigarette smokers inhale deep into their lungs with bladelike. and in so grand and guileless a multitude. bronchitis. whose pleasure is predominently oral and contemplative.
and the authors—who manage an accomplished prose style rare in such collective undertakings— marshal their facts with such efficiency and persuasion that it is hard to imagine anyone but a fool or a tobacco lobbyist denying the close association between smoking and lung cancer.hasten the deaths of a large proportion of the people who indulged in it. "The conclusion is inescapable. where the death rate from all causes was found to be . "and even spokesmen for the cigarette industry rarely seek to escape it: we are living in the midst of a major lung cancer epidemic. for instance. data based on an extensive study of smokers and nonsmokers among English physicians. Certainly (and there seems little doubt that the Surgeon General's report. The Report quotes. not only lung cancer. And there is reason to believe that the worst is yet to come. Yet. will make this clear) only nuclear fall-out exceeds cigarette smoking in gravity as a public health problem. but has affected women as well. being released this month. It cannot be explained away by such factors as improved diagnosis." the Report begins. The Consumers Union Report on Smoking would be a valuable document. NYRB / Names on the Land For its lucid presentation of the medical evidence alone." Yet despite this minatory beginning the tone throughout is one of caution and reasonableness. of course. This epidemic hit men first and hardest.
. then agreeable to read: "These death rates among smokers are perhaps the least controversial of all the findings to date. For with respect to any particular disease there is always the possibility. having kicked the habit. microscopic studies of the lung tissues of exsmokers have shown a process in which precancerous cells are dying out instead of flourishing and reproducing as in the tissues of continuing smokers. But death is easily diagnosed. if not exactly a joy. Here the Report states. in regard to a carefully matched group composed in equal numbers of non-smokers. ex-smokers. For all present evidence seems to indicate that the common cocktail party rationalization ("I've smoked too long to stop now." In the end. with the modest and constructive irony that makes the book. what makes the Report's message supportable to those distracted souls among the millions of American smokers who may wish to kick the habit—or who. that mistaken diagnosis and other conceivable errors may cast doubt on the statistics. may wonder if it is not too late—is a kind of muted optimism. In research carried out by the American Cancer Society. however remote.e. precancerous cells] were found in . and quadrupled in the group 35 to 44. and smokers: "Metaplastic cells with altered nucici [i. the damage is done") has no real basis in fact.doubled among heavy cigarette smokers in the group of men past 65. And the Report adds. however.
2 per cent of the slides from the lungs of non-smokers. too. a kind of fatness of soul. though. combined with the fact that ex-smokers have a lung cancer death rate which ranges down to one-fifth of that of smokers who continue to smoke. after all. and some people find the ordeal fearfully difficult. when in .1. a cheerless. after two or three days of great flaccidity of spirit. For myself. Curiously. should be of the greatest practical interest to anyone who ponders whether it may be worthwhile abandoning what is. (Only the passion of a convert could provoke these last words. fumbling addiction. I developed a racking cough. one of psychological complexity. disappeared. I do have an urgent suspicion. but this. and an awful intermittent urge to burst into tears.0 for exsmokers—and 93. A sense of smugness. that the greatest barrier to a termination of the habit is the dread of some Faustian upheaval. if not next to impossible. an aimless oral yearning. the problem resolved itself. Of course stopping smoking may be in itself a major problem. however. The Report was an aid to my stopping a twopack-a-day habit which commenced in early infancy. for the first time in my life. is the reward for such a struggle. The intensity of the addiction varies. as compared with 6. grubby. and in less than a week all craving vanished. aching moments of hunger at the pit of the stomach." Certainly such evidence.2 per cent for current smokers.
fact the deprivation. in the words of one industry spokesman. it may be read for its sociological insights as well. It seems clear that the industry. silenced its pitch to young people. the villain is any and everything but the cigarette. brought about the crisis which will reach a head in this month's report by the Surgeon General. to have given money to independent research organizations. But panic and greed dominated the reaction. might have acquitted itself with some honor had it made what the Report calls the only feasible choices: to have urged caution on smokers. while momentarily oppressive. is apt to prove not really cruel at all. "relies almost wholy upon health scare propaganda to raise millions of dollars from a . Certainly the history of commerce has few instances of such shameful abdication of responsibility as that displayed by the cigarette industry when in 1952 the "health scare. indeed. to have avoided propaganda and controversy in favour of unbiased inquiry. At the very least the industry might have softpedalled or." as it is so winsomely known in the trade. Even the American Cancer Society is in on the evil plot and. the official position of the industry has been that. and during the decade since the smoking-lung cancer link was made public. instead of trying to forestall the inevitable with its lies and evasions.) But it the Report is splendidly effective as a caveat. in the matter of lung cancer.
Bruff. will die of smoking-induced lung cancer before they reach the age of seventy years." I have never met Mr. but in my mind's eye I see him. advertising director of Liggett and Myers. "If he does decide to smoke we want to get him. however. poised like a cormorant above those doomed minnows." says L. Bruff is only typical of the leaders of an industry which last year received a bounty of $7 billion from 63 million American smokers. the weight of conscience. and during these last crucial ten years the annual advertising expenditure has increased 134 per cent—a vast amount of it. W. much less really change. Mr. Perhaps the tragic reality is that neither this estimable report nor that of the Surgeon General can measureably affect. email icon Email to a friend .gullible public." Meanwhile. One million of these young people. Bruff. according to the American Public Health Association. of course. which go into the making of such a prodigious thought. going to entice the very young. "Between the time a kid is eighteen and twenty-one. and I am amused by the refinement. the delicate interplay of intellectual and moral alternatives. such awesome figures. As the report demonstrates. $200 million was spent last year on cigarette ballyhoo. he's going to make the basic decision to smoke or not to smoke.
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The New York Review of Books Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 1, Number 9 · December 26, 1963 Dark Mission By J.H. Plumb Livingstone's African Journals 1853-56 edited with an Introduction by I. Schapera California, two volumes (236 & 259) pp., $11.50 African explorers are at a discount—at least in Africa. Their statues are being broken up or removed to obscure suburbs. As one native of Nyasaland remarked about Livingstone, "How could he have discovered us? We were always here!" For young nations struggling towards independence, the recent past is often best forgotten in order to obliterate the shame, the frustration, the sense of inadequacy which exploitation and submission always create. So the stature of the great explorers—Mungo Park, H. M. Stanley, Heinrich Barth, Richard Burton and the rest will diminish. They will be reduced to cosy adventure-reading a la Moorehead, or buried in meticulous scholarship à la Schapera. The careful annotation of Livingstone's diaries and journals, however, needed to be done and Mr. Schapera has done it as well as it can be done —minute variations between the journals and the final published version, Missionary Travels
and Researches, are correct to a thousandth of a comma, the failure to track down obscure place names in the Barotseland Gazeteer unflaggingly recorded, and plants, animals, fishes described in the splendid rotundity of their scientific nomenclature: for the addict of editorial virtuosity this book could become an obsession; but most readers might doubt whether these rough notes deserved such Herculean labors. However, they have been performed, and this edition will last, awaiting the historian, black or white, who will finally judge the missionary factor in African history, doubtless as a part of that greater and more difficult evaluation of the role of the white man in the development of Africa. Whatever the color of the historian, the assessment will be difficult, for ambiguities of motive are as commonplace as the African atrocities perpetrated by Arabs and Europeans. NYR Holiday Subscription Special In 1850, the condition of Africa was appalling by any standards. Rarely in the history of the world had human life been held in such contempt. The Kabaka of Uganda had no hesitation in shooting a page to see how a rifle worked, but so low a view of the worth of life everywhere abounded. Time and time again in his sad, cool, compassionate way Livingstone reports the terrible treatment meted out by African chiefs and traders to their slaves. Yesterday morning a man was deliberately
beating a poor captive from the east for having endeavored to escape. She was quite naked, and holding up her poor dress in both hands as a sort of shield against the frequent blows of hippopotamus hide. At other times sick captives were left to die; young children, wanted for sale, were frequently torn from their families; tribal war flourished as vigorously as disease. And disease, in some ways, was a greater horror than slavery. Animals as well as men were full of it. Pestilence of every kind flourished with a tropical luxuriance—partly because of climate and hygienic conditions but also because the vast majority of Africans, then as now, lived on the threshhold of starvation. So life was desperately cheap, and young and old, male and female, were given away, driven away, at times just thrown away. Although Livingstone had grown up in the harsh and brutal conditions of industrial Scotland, he could never grow callous to the desperate plight of ordinary Africans. And these journals possess a nightmare quality. Livingstone came to believe that there was but one solution to Africa's plight—trade. Conversion without economic development seemed to him a hopeless crusade. Livingstone saw God as working for man's future not only through missionaries but also through sanitary engineers.
The sight made my heart sick and sore…It is distressing, besides, to see poor boys going about picking up grains of corn which have fallen in the Kotla—almost skeletons. Their masters, being niggardly, yet retain them in starvation, though their parents would gladly feed them if only allowed. We are parts of the machinery He employs but not exclusive parts, for all who are engaged in ameliorating the condition of our race are fellow-workers, co-operators with God —sanitary reformers and clergy of all sorts, the soldiers at Sebastopol and sailors of the coast of Africa, inventors of telegraphs and steam engines, promoters of emigration and of prison reform. Wherever he traveled in Africa, he was on the look-out for commodities to exploit, trade routes to develop, for land on which white men might settle, or Africans improve with new crops. The salvation of the African lay through Birmingham and Manchester, and Livingstone and his fellow missionaries regarded philanthropy at ten per cent as a natural, reasonable, and entirely honorable act of benevolence, particularly if conducted by the British rather than the Boers or Portuguese. About such an attitude it is easy to be cynical, but in 1850 there was no other way. Dark and bloody though the paths of colonial exploitation have been, they have led towards a future of human dignity for the African: and,
except for the vile regime of Leopold in the Congo and a few other pockets of depravity, the night of terror for the ordinary African was first dispelled by colonial administration. And succulent though the British pickings may have been in Africa, Britons not only stamped out the slave trade, but also launched Africa into the twentieth century, and then quit with a better grace and a better sense than most. Throughout British involvement in Africa, strong streaks of altruism lay side by side with fatter layers of cupidity, but they were always discernable. The British were at any rate honorable. Livingstone was not alone in wanting to end the bestiality, poverty, disease, and brutality that was most Africans' lot, or to stop the Arabs, who were making it worse, by white control. His panacea was trade, industry, better agriculture: in fact that self-same economic growth which is still seen to be Africa's salvation. To Livingstone this was the key to the future. He had no illusions about his own missionary efforts: so long as African conditions remained barbarous, Christianity was unlikely to flourish. Indeed in these journals, as in all that Livingstone wrote, there is a sense of social despair that wells up from the very depths of his nature. He suffered endlessly from fever and dysentery; he derived no sense of personal triumph from his immense journeys, for these were in the Lord's hands. He lacked the satisfaction that most explorers derive
from their own competence in the details of their expeditions—Livingstone handled porters badly, lost stores, moved at the wrong times, and was the prey of every rascal, African or Arab, whom he encountered. Indeed, at times, it seems as if Livingstone were almost deliberately making conditions worse for himself: letting the worst happen so that he might suffer it. His courage to endure his endless tribulations, physical and spiritual, sprang from the very depths of his personality; it lay deeper than his beliefs, deeper even than his Christian convictions. He needed to test his endurance, to exercise his will in the vast isolation of Africa, amidst sickness, loneliness, pain, and, at the end of his life, in helpless despair. He was seeking some mysterious finality within himself. And so there could be no success; the triumphant journey across the continent, the hero's welcome in Britain, were all meaningless. His path lay back into the wilds of Africa, as he followed that way of courage through which he had willed himself in search of his identity as a man. It is this integrity of will that gives Livingstone such stature. email icon Email to a friend Search the Review Advanced search NYRB Children's Fantasy/Travel Books NYRB Children's Picture Books
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