Louis Menand is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard. His books include The Marketplace of Ideas, American Studies and The Metaphysical Club.

IN THE REVIEW

Edmund Wilson’s Vanished World

Hecate is a goddess whose career has obscured whatever may have been the original intention of her imaginers. She can represent, in Greek mythology, the moon, the earth, and the underworld, and she is associated with Persephone and Demeter. She was believed to extend goodwill, in the forms of wealth …

Goblin Market

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

a film directed by Peter Jackson
I read The Lord of the Rings in 1963, when I was eleven, two years before the American paperback edition became a cult book on college campuses. My mother had ordered the book from England—it had an American publisher, Houghton Mifflin, but the American hardcover must have been unavailable, or …

College: The End of the Golden Age

Except for a brief contraction in the early 1990s, the higher education system in the United States has been growing steadily since the late 1970s. Roughly half of all Americans now have attended college at some point in their lives, and roughly a quarter hold a postsecondary degree. (In the …

The Socrates of Cambridge

The Evolutionary Philosophy of Chauncey Wright

edited by Frank X. Ryan
Chauncey Wright was a village philosopher whose village happened to be Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was not a professor—he taught two courses at Harvard near the end of his life, and both were generally considered complete failures—and he never wrote a book. His production consisted almost entirely of dense and extremely …

Bloom’s Gift

Ravelstein

by Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow and Allan Bloom were friends. They taught together at the University of Chicago, and Bellow wrote the foreword to Bloom’s phenomenal best seller, The Closing of the American Mind, which came out in 1987. In spite of its popularity, The Closing of the American Mind was a quirky …

A Fine Detachment

“Thinking is the great enemy of perfection.” —Joseph Conrad, Victory Only one person has ever been elected president of the United States after losing the New Hampshire primary. This is a statistic of no predictive value, but it does qualify a little the perception that American presidential campaigns get …

Opening Moves

The morning after Al Gore and Bill Bradley’s first joint appearance in the presidential campaign, at a “town meeting” at Dartmouth College, the New England edition of The New York Times ran a picture on the front page of Gore responding to a questioner, his arms extended in a gesture …

Kubrick’s Strange Love

Eyes Wide Shut

a film by Stanley Kubrick
Eyes Wide Shut, the thirteenth and last feature film directed by Stanley Kubrick, who died on March 7, is based on Arthur Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle, which was published in 1926. Schnitzler’s story is set in turn-of-the-century Vienna and Kubrick’s movie is set in contemporary New York City, but otherwise the adaptation …