Among the Plant Hunters

Robin Lane Fox

Though today there are fewer botanists than in centuries past, there are more botanical artists than ever before. “These artists,” Robin Lane Fox writes in the September 25 issue of The New York Review, “are today’s close observers of flowers and fruits, now that ‘plant scientists’ have moved inward to study cells and genes. Most plant scientists are ignorant about gardening. Artists do more for susceptible gardeners’ fantasies.” Here he presents a selection of botanical drawings with commentary.

Scenes from Eastern Ukraine

Tim Judah

In late August, Russian-backed rebel forces launched a devastating counter-offensive against Ukrainian troops. They drove them out of border areas of both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine, retook areas south of Donetsk and advanced to within a few miles of the port of Mariupol. A ceasefire came into effect on September 5. It is holding in most areas, but not everywhere. Few have confidence that the fighting is really over and that both the Ukrainians on one side and the rebels and their backers from Russia on the other have not simply called half-time. The following photos were taken by Tim Judah while reporting for The New York Review over the past few weeks.


Michael Dirda

What we admire in pirates—at least our fictional pirates—is that they so enjoy their villainy. They’re not sly or covert or subtle. Everything about them is over-the-top, histrionic: they glory in their infamy. While most of us drag ourselves through the daily dullness of our lives, they swagger, they pirouette, and, in the case of Captain Hook, even dance a tarantella. Like the trailblazer and the gunslinger, the pirate represents a New World ideal of freedom—a proud renegade living by his wits and his daring.

Flayed Alive by the Bacchae

translated from the Greek by Robin Robertson

They would have torn us to pieces, those Bacchae.

Instead, they turned—bare-handed—

on our herd of grazing cattle.

A single woman pulled a mewling calf in two,

while others clawed apart a full-grown heifer.

There were spread ribs and broken hooves
flung everywhere,

and pieces of flesh hung

dripping from the trees.

Remnants of New Orleans

Nathaniel Rich

“While it actually resembles no other city upon the face of the earth,” wrote Lafcadio Hearn of New Orleans, “it owns suggestions of towns in Italy, and in Spain, of cities in England and in Germany, of seaports in the Mediterranean, and of seaports in the tropics.” There’s no better illustration of this than the photographs of Richard Sexton.