An excellent book could be written on the Victorian bachelor. Some never intended to be bachelors. Senior subalterns in regiments of the line waiting until their forties for promotion, college dons waiting for country livings whose incumbents declined to die, men waiting to inherit from a distant kinsman, clerks in the civil service who had to keep up appearances and could not afford to set up house in the style ...Read »
In the eighteenth century, in a region of southern France which lies to the northeast of Avignon, a wall of stone was built to keep out the plague. The pestilence came up from the coast and leaped across the wall before it was finished. Now there are only a few stretches of the ruined rampart, and many mass graves.
Around this image the South African novelist André Brink has assembled ...Read »
The American public has been warned that medical care may soon have to be rationed. In an article in Newsweek (November 12, 1984), Dr. William Schwartz writes that “either we will accept the continued rise of hospital costs that result from full exploitation of technological advances, or we will start to ration hospital care. And if it’s the latter, we will then have to say to some people, ‘Yes ...Read »
To the Editors:
Martha Nussbaum [NYR, January 31] is mistaken when she writes that “the estate of Paul Shorey endowed a bequest, accepted by the Harvard Classics Department, to support the graduate work of ‘single young men studying Plato.’ Evidently there were some aspects of this author which Shorey wished these young men to neglect.” Neither Shorey, who died in 1934, nor his estate is responsible for this scholarship fund ...Read »
During the past two decades Jeffrey Burton Russell has established himself as a respected historian of medieval religion. Though some of his extraordinarily abundant writings have dealt with the Roman Catholic mainstream, more have dealt with varieties of religion that flourished outside, and in opposition to, the Church. Dissent and Reform in the Early Middle Ages (1965), Religious Dissent in the Middle Ages (1971), Witchcraft in the Middle Ages (1972 ...Read »
In his rough serge suit and open-necked shirt, William Morris was often taken for an artisan. This pleased him, but in truth his appearance was at odds with his position, and his tastes. Morris had inherited a considerable private income from shares in a copper mine, for he came from the capitalist class he loathed; while his view of the world was not that of a working man but was ...Read »
Julian Barnes is an English writer still in his thirties. His first novel, Metroland, appeared in 1981, his second, Before She Met Me, in 1982. With his third, Flaubert’s Parrot, he is beginning to attract the kind of attention reserved for serious novelists. Yet he is still, I should say, better known in Britain as a television critic. Television criticism is on the face of it a peculiar and ...Read »
Wars have a momentum of their own and a tendency to destroy the very thing they set out to preserve or to gain. Each starts out as something vast—a reflection of the society that concocts it—only to become a vastness in itself. Masterpieces have been written that illustrate the point, and War and Peace is our supreme example. But Tolstoy described the last war that did not radically ...Read »
William Pritchard’s “literary life” of Robert Frost is a persuasive antidote to Lawrance Thompson’s official biography, which reached its demolishing conclusion in 1976 with its third and final volume. Its portrait of the poet inspired one reviewer to conclude that he was “a monster”; another that he was “a mean-spirited megalomaniac”; still another that “a more hateful human being cannot have lived.” Whatever its other qualities, Thompson’s ...Read »
To the Editors:
During the past ten years or so Peter Singer and I have been independently developing and applying very different ethical theories to a variety of moral and social issues, including the treatment of nonhuman animals. Singer, a utilitarian, denies that animals (and humans) have moral rights, and endeavors to rest his case for what he calls “the animal liberation movement” on utilitarian calculations. In The Case for ...Read »
One point that Douglas Cooper, the controversial English art historian who died last year, would want his obituarist to emphasize is that he was not Australian. True, his antecedents had acquired a considerable fortune, not to speak of a baronetcy, down under, but they returned to England around the turn of the century; and they sold their Australian holdings, including much of the Woollahra section of Sydney, some years later ...Read »
“Draw this,” I said, and gave José my pocket watch.
He was about twenty-one, said to be hopelessly retarded, and had earlier had one of the violent seizures from which he suffers. He was thin, muscular. His distraction, his restlessness, suddenly ceased. He took the watch carefully, as if it were a talisman or jewel, laid it before him, and stared at it in motionless concentration.
“He’s an idiot ...Read »
The more time that citizens spend thinking about public matters, Rousseau said, and the less about their own private affairs, the better a society is. One good test of political sentiments is whether you find this thought invigorating or repellent. Either reaction to it, however, implies that you have an understanding of the contrast, some conception of the private.
Barrington Moore’s book raises the very interesting question of what ...Read »
To the Editors:
I am grateful to Dr. Jonathan Lieberson in your current number [NYR, January 31] for his generous references (pages 27 and 28) to my book The Standing of Psychoanalysis (Oxford University Press, 1981). However, I believe that he may have unwittingly misled your readers about what I was trying to say on one topic in this book.
Dr. Lieberson ends his contribution to you as follows. “It ...Read »
Shortly before dawn on September 1, 1983, a Boeing 747 Flight KE007 of Korean Air Lines was shot down over Sakhalin Island in the Soviet Far East by an SU-15 fighter of the Soviet Air Force, with the loss of all 269 passengers and crew on board. The incident set off a contest in vituperation between the super-powers, which, a year and a half later, still reverberates. President Reagan called ...Read »
It should be obvious that Marxism is not what its founders thought it to be. It is neither a “scientific” socialism, based upon knowledge of the objective laws of history and sharply opposed to utopianism, nor is it the ideological expression of the proletariat of advanced capitalist countries. Some people still believe that it is a means of universal human emancipation but, in spite of the growing number of Marxists ...Read »