Peter France is Professor Emeritus of French at the University of Edinburgh and the editor of The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French. The poem in the May 8, 2014 issue is included in Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated and with a foreword by Peter France, to be published by New Directions in June 2014. 
(May 2014)

Batyushkov

Like a flaneur with a magic cane, tender Batyushkov lives at my place— wanders down Zamostie lanes, sniffs a rose, sings Zafna’s praise. Not for a moment believing that we could be separated, I bowed to him: I shake his brightly gloved …

The Pleasure of Their Company

Not long after World War I, the art critic Clive Bell set out to define and defend the “civilization” his nation had allegedly been fighting for. Looking back from Bloomsbury to Voltaire and beyond, he picked out what were by common consent three summits of civilized living: Periclean Athens, Renaissance …

Burying the Dead

Mankind is a peculiar species in that the essential moments in our biological development are all given meaning and form by culture. Being born, growing up, eating, coming of age, pairing off, growing old, being sick, and dying—all are events or successive stages in natural life that have to be …

In the Hell of Art

From the tower there was a way out on to the sloping roof and in that white Petersburg night all we artists, poets, and actors, excited by verses and wine—and in those days we got drunk on verses as easily as on wine—came out under the pale sky and Blok, …

Pasternak in Private

Pasternak’s one-time brother in Futurism, Vladimir Mayakovsky, had projected a huge image of himself in his writing. His career was stormy, public, and short. When in 1930 he put a violent end to it, Pasternak wrote a farewell poem, “Death of a Poet,” setting the strength and courage of the …

Solving the Correggio Problem

In 1880 Giovanni Morelli, the founder of modern connoisseurship, who aimed to establish the attribution of works of art on a more systematic or “scientific” basis, made a sensation in the art world by announcing that Correggio’s Reclining Magdalen was a mere pastiche by a late seventeenth-century Dutch painter. The …

Malraux and Death

“Death is a recent and as yet incomplete discovery,” Malraux writes in Lazarus, but he was already talking about death long before it became fashionable as a subject. For whatever we may think of him as a writer, we must recognize that he was always ten or twenty years ahead …

Gazing at Death

The Birth of the Clinic is a description of the changes in the language of medicine, particularly French medicine, between 1794 and 1820. It is therefore in the first place a work of history, concerned with a specific problem during a specific period. But it is also an experiment in …

The Dominant Doctor

Galen of Pergamum elaborated his medical philosophy during the second half of the second century AD, and was the dominant influence on medical thinking until the eighteenth. He was at the same time an experimental scientist, a medical practitioner, and a commentator. Before being doctor to the emperors in Rome, …

Rousseau & Modern Tyranny

There is not much left in Rousseau to respect or admire when Professor Lester G. Crocker has finished with his life and works. Professor Crocker’s analysis, resting on solid documentary research, does not aim primarily to map out the story of a life; this has been done often enough and …