David Bromwich is Sterling Professor of English at Yale. Moral Imagination, a collection of his essays, was recently published in paperback. (November 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

On the Election—I

What is to be done about the Republican Party? Sixty years ago it was the party of Dwight Eisenhower and a dynamic suburban middle class putting an end at last to the long reign of the New Deal Democrats. This summer it became the pathetic captive of Donald Trump, a television performer professing to speak for a discontented and sullen middle class.

The Genius of a Neighbor

Wisława Szymborska, Kraków, 1984; photograph by Joanna Helander

Map: Collected and Last Poems

by Wisława Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak
Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1996, but she came of age in the late 1930s, in Poland; and to judge by the evidence in Map: Collected and Last Poems, her wit and judgment were sharpened and her disposition of charity deepened by the war years. Yet …

On the Target

A detail of a still from Laura Poitras’s video installation O’Say Can You See, composed of images filmed at Ground Zero in the days after the September 11 attacks, 2001/2016

Laura Poitras: Astro Noise

Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance

by Laura Poitras and others
Installation art is a mixed genre. It can be contemplative in ways denied to a picture hanging on a wall or a film projected on a screen. At the same time it lends itself to provocation, to “confrontational” ambitions: the spectator may be startled by light or noise, or subjected …

NYR DAILY

Bomb First

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter firing a Tomahawk land attack missile at a Syrian military airfield in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017

For an American president, bombing is easier than thinking. For an American lawmaker or opinion-maker, it costs nothing to celebrate the resolve of a president who bombs. What conclusion will be drawn by the mind of Donald Trump when, after firing missiles at a Syrian government airfield, he is now being promoted to the ranks of the sane and responsible by the people who once characterized him as dangerously unstable?

Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Ambition

From left, John Wilkes Booth as Mark Antony, Edwin Booth as Brutus, and Junius Booth as Cassius in Julius Caesar, New York, 1864

It is clear from Lincoln’s speeches, writings, and actions that he struggled against ambition in order not to let it prevail over his sense of justice. From what familiar political sources might an American of Lincoln’s generation have come to suppose that ambition poses a moral and political danger? A commanding statement was the pair of speeches by Brutus and Mark Antony to the Roman crowd in Act 3 of Julius Caesar.

Stumbling Into Syria

A Syrian rebel fighter descending from a damaged building, Aleppo, Syria, June 12, 2013

A train of commitments by two administrations has led to the US intervention in Syria, an involvement that started well before the revised intelligence estimate about chemical weapons climbed to “high certainty.” Throughout the peculiar history of preparing the ground in Syria, there are distinct reminders of Iraq. As with Iraq, the US is looking to enter a scene of sectarian hostilities that it hopes to control by the right tactics once regime change has been accomplished. As with Iraq, refusal of inspections by the existing government has been taken to indicate the possession and use of forbidden weapons. As with Iraq, we are being encouraged by Sunni regional partners who are willing to sponsor jihadists from an overwhelming desire to weaken and overthrow the government of Iran.

NYR CALENDAR