In sheer numbers alone, the scale of Syria’s humanitarian crisis is difficult to grasp: a third of the country’s 22.5 million people have abandoned their homes; 10 percent have fled the country, including more than one million children. The crisis has also been hard to understand because the Syrians who have fled are dispersed in hundreds of villages, towns, and cities across the region. These photographs, taken during reporting this summer in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq, show some of the many different situations in which the refugees now find themselves.
Edward Watson’s performance as Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis shows how thin the line between the beautiful and the grotesque can be in ballet. Watson, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, has danced the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Rudolf in Mayerling and next year will dance Romeo in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. In this adaptation of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis by Arthur Pita, Watson evokes the nightmarish experience Kafka describes—of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect—through the vocabulary of ballet. Here you can see his leg turned out at the hip and his foot arched. But what he is doing with his toes makes the whole posture hideous. They wriggle like a millipede’s legs, as though beyond his control, and Watson looks at them in horror.
Charles Marville is best known for his government commission to photograph the neighborhoods of Paris slated for demolition during Baron Haussmann’s reconfiguration of the city between 1853 and 1870. His technical mastery of the medium was such that he made cloud studies of the sky over the Invalides fifty years before clouds featured much in photography, since they tended not to cooperate with the long exposure times. But as rich and fascinating as are those aspects of his work, it is still the documentation of old Paris that secures his place in the highest rank of photographic achievement.
The events in Cairo of August 14, in which Egyptian security forces confronted thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, were widely covered around the world. Most reports have described the protesters as unarmed and peaceful. However it was clear, both from what I witnessed on the ground and from extensive footage recording the events that day, that a faction of the protesters were heavily armed, and that both Islamists and the police used live ammunition in the confrontation that followed.
“Bill Brandt…is to photography what a sculptor is to a block of marble,” wrote Lawrence Durrell. “His pictures read into things, try to get at the hidden presence which dwells in the inanimate object. Whether his subject is live or not—whether woman or child or human hand or stone—he detaches it from its context by some small twist of perception and lodges it securely in the world of Platonic forms.”
In the September 26, 2013 issue of The New York Review, Sanford Schwartz writes about a new exhibition of the work of L.S. Lowry (1887–1976), whom he calls “Britain’s only visual artist to make industrial Lancashire, with its factories and smoke-belching chimneys and crowded streets, his or her predominant subject.”
At the end of World War II, as it became clear that Hitler was headed for defeat, Russia and the Western powers raced against each other to claim territory in Europe. Russian troops were the first to reach Warsaw, Budapest, and Vienna, and most observers expected that the Russians would also be the first to reach Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia. It looked as if all of Eastern Europe was fated to fall under Soviet sway. At the last minute, however, it almost didn’t turn out that way. General Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Patton to take Karlovy Vary, Plzeň, and České Budějovice, three of Czechoslovakia’s westernmost cities. Patton quickly took the cities, and he wanted to keep marching—all the way to Prague. If Eisenhower had given Patton a green light, the Iron Curtain of the next half-century would very likely have had a very different shape.
On June 22, 2013, The New York Review held a conference to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and to honor the lives, work, and legacy of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire and Bernard Williams. We are pleased to present the following audio record of this event.
Recently, the British pianist Stephen Hough reported on his blog that he had made “The most exciting musical discovery of [his] life: Tchaikovsky’s wrong note finally corrected.” The article questioned a note in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, a large-scale, virtuosic piece that makes striking use of Russian folk themes. At the start of the concerto’s slow movement, the flute plays a phrase that consists of the notes A-flat, E-flat, F, A-flat. But is that F a mistake?
For all of the controversy surrounding Reza Aslan and his book Zealot, the work follows in a long tradition of study of the historical figure of Jesus—a subject that has provoked vigorous debate in The New York Review’s pages over the decades.