John Thompson is an English sociologist. He has published several studies of the media and communication in modern societies, including The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Mediaand Political Scandal: Power and Visibility in the Media Age.

Absent Friends

Father Chomski, the vicar of Vaidotai parish, Died at the age of ninety-seven, worrying till the end about his parishioners, for no one would succeed him. On the shore of the Pacific, I, his former pupil, Was translating the Apocalypse from Greek into Polish, …

Ending on Paumanok

Ending on fishy Paumanok where I will die Not forgotten, nor praised as a perfect father, O Cameradas, birds of a pinioned feather, Flock for me once on that American day. Women and men I have loved, omnes redoubtable, Set up a round in …

Clubland

A far cry from London SW1 is Berkeley, CA 94701. A far cry from White’s Club, or Boodle’s, or Buck’s, or Bertie Wooster’s Drones, is the association imagined by Leonard Michaels in his novel The Men’s Club. The story is of six men of early middle age and of middling …

Perilous Relations

On the dust jacket of this book, with what looks like the African veldt in the background, is Nadine Gordimer, sporting a fedora, tiny, delicate as a gazelle. She reminds one of that other teller of African tales, Isak Dinesen, also delicate in appearance—like her half-tame gazelle Lulu described in …

Hate in a Cold Climate

“To understand the story which follows,” says the author’s note to Piers Paul Read’s seventh novel, A Married Man, “the reader should know a little about the English legal profession.” A solicitor prepares a defense brief for the accused. A barrister wigged and gowned pleads this case in court. And …

Bankruptcy and Revolt

Appearing before the African subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, two nongovernmental authorities on Zaire urged that the United States dissociate itself from support of Zaire’s President, Mobutu Sese Seko, or risk serious damage to American interests in Africa. Another witness urged continued assistance, but with some reduction in …

Updike le Noir

Military cartographers sometimes employ a device called an “overlay,” a sketch on transparent paper of some special feature such as the deployment of artillery batteries; placed atop a regular map of the area and keyed to it, the overlay thus easily becomes part of the real map itself. Overlying those …

Robert Lowell 1917–1977

Forty years ago in the carpenter’s Gothic of Douglass House, demolished now, at Gambier, Ohio, in the long gabled upstairs room he shared with Peter Taylor, Robert Lowell had the intelligent habit of lying in bed all day. Around that bed like a tumble-down brick wall were his Greek Homer, …

Old Campaigners

The poet in “dry sufficient middle age,” not exactly “ankle deep in money, thick as leaves,” yet rather more comfortable than as a youth he may really have expected to be, “need not, does not, strive to compose. He writes.” He now requires “nothing from poetry but true feeling, no …

Lionel Trilling (1905–1975)

Many readers of this review will be among those who feel most deeply the death of Lionel Trilling. He had long been known and honored everywhere, in England and Europe as well as here. But he had begun as a New York intellectual, speaking to that small peculiar bunch, often …

At Least One Way

No Way is a very short novel, bare and bleak as bones. Its ominous English title is appropriate enough for its mood, except for the easy current slanginess of that phrase, mouthed by so many of us now on trivial occasions. In Natalia Ginzburg’s Italian it was simply Caro Michele …

Caught Again

In Something Happened, Joseph Heller’s new novel, the story is told by the hero as if he were dictating secretly to some device implanted in his brain. We overhear everything while he reports what is going on at the office and at home from day to day, and reports too …

Last Testament

Touchende mi confession I axe an absolucion Of Genius, er that I go. —John Gower, Confessio Amantis The confessions of John Berryman’s last two books of poems, Love & Fame (1970) and the posthumous Delusions, Etc. (1972), are continued in the novel Recovery which he left …

In Africa

Toward the end of Paul Theroux’s novel, Jungle Lovers, there is a bit of dialogue between two young men. They are somewhere in Malawi, a lesser nation of Central Africa. One of them is a citizen of that land, the other an American. Their circumstances at the moment are bizarre, …

An Alphabet of Poets

How happy our poets should be these days! Relieved of all their former responsibilities, they can go about their business of making poems with words, as pure as any scientist alone at his Institute blackboard, solving theoretical problems that have absolutely no practical application at all. (A quotation, actual but …

Too Important to Be New

About soldiers, Randall Jarrell wrote these lines: And his dull torment mottles like a fly’s The lying amber of the histories. The subtitle of Ronnie Dugger’s book Dark Star is “Hiroshima Reconsidered in the Life of Claude Eatherly of Lincoln Park, Texas.” That vast distance, that more-than-global discrepancy …

Early Wilson

Here are two more of those compact, oblong Edmund Wilson volumes, those books so congenial to the hand and to the eye—un-American somehow in their modest propriety of size and appearance and function. But Wilson’s American publishers for some years now have issued them in this form. By this unobtrusive …

Good Man

This is a time when we ask, “What must a man do?” and nobody knows the answer. Every day our war against Vietnam gets worse. The readers of this journal know perfectly well that more than 10,000 American men have been killed there, that the casualty rates are rising fast, …

The Professionals

Washington, D.C. is Gore Vidal’s tenth novel. Go to the Widow-Maker is James Jones’s fifth. When She Was Good is only Philip Roth’s second, but he is young, and this book, with Letting Go and his volume of stories, Goodbye, Columbus, puts him in company with Jones and Vidal among …

Catching Up on Mailer

Some books, perhaps some authors, resist the reviewer if not the reader. The reviewer, that show-off drudge, is perhaps a man who hates to make up his mind and thus compulsively gets into positions where he has to do it. And the reviewer also thinks he ought to be a …

Permafrost

It is certainly odd, the interest we have in the lives of writers. We might suppose that of all people they’d be the last we would need to be curious about—those of them who are real writers, anyway. Because isn’t a real writer precisely one whose work is more interesting …

Poor Papa

In his lifetime, Ernest Hemingway’s early and enormous fame became confused with his writing, and in his own mind as well as in the minds of his critics his fame somehow seemed to make his writing go bad. At the time of his death, in 1961, he was probably the …

From Out of Nowhere

How bitter must be the wailing of one of those souls lingering beyond Lethe, when Stanley Elkin beckons it to leave Elysium, to return a second time and bear the sluggish body! The shade of Achilles said it was better to be the slave of a poor farmer than to …

Matthiessen and Updike

Far back upstream, so very far back in the jungles of the Amazon headwaters that not even an anthropologist has visited them, live the Indians of Peter Matthiessen’s novel, At Play in the Fields of the Lord. Perhaps this little naked tribe is the last in the world untouched by …

Corrective Critic

Most of the essays in Philip Rahv’s new collection, The Myth and the Powerhouse, come from those uncherished years, the Fifties. In the small world of the advanced literary intellectual, as indeed in the larger worlds that suffer or contrive what we call history, it was not a happy decade: …