Adam Kirsch is a poet and critic. His selection of Lionel Trilling’s letters, Life in Culture, was published last year.
 (October 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

Resisting English

Minae Mizumura; drawing by Karl Stevens

The Fall of Language in the Age of English

by Minae Mizumura, translated from the Japanese by Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter

A True Novel

by Minae Mizumura, translated from the Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter in collaboration with the author
No one could read Minae Mizumura for long without realizing that her lament over her “unhappy” fate as a Japanese writer is at most half-serious. She may feel indignant on behalf of the Japanese language—and other national languages that she fears are being eclipsed by English—but she was never tempted to become a writer in English herself. On the contrary: in her polemical nonfiction work The Fall of Language in the Age of English, a best seller in Japan when it appeared in 2008, she writes that even though she lived in the US for twenty years, “I never felt comfortable with either American life or the English language.”

Primal Visions

Painting by Maira Kalman from Sara Berman’s Closet, an illustrated family memoir created with her son, Alex Kalman, after their museum exhibition of the same name. It has just been published by Harper Design.

Moods

by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole

Curriculum Vitae

by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole
“We’d like to leave our readers with a great gift before they move on to other books,” writes Yoel Hoffmann near the end of Moods. “But we’re like a building contractor whose tools are limited. At most he puts up a wall or lays down a floor and says to …

Zionist Regrets

Gershom Scholem, circa 1970

Gershom Scholem: Master of the Kabbalah

by David Biale

Gershom Scholem: From Berlin to Jerusalem and Back

by Noam Zadoff, translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey Green
Gershom Scholem was one of the great scholars of the twentieth century. Almost single-handedly, he created the modern academic study of Jewish mysticism, a subject that had been scorned by earlier generations of historians. But that achievement, remarkable though it is, hardly explains why he remains such an object of …

Stuff of Scandal

Egon Schiele: The Artist’s Mother, Sleeping, 1911

Klimt and Schiele: Drawn

an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, February 25–May 28, 2018

Klimt and Schiele: Drawings

by Katie Hanson
As you enter “Klimt and Schiele: Drawn,” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, you are faced with a choice. Begin on the left, with Gustav Klimt’s Seated Woman in a Pleated Dress, and you will find yourself following Klimt down one wall of the single, large room; pick …

Classical Cancan

Jacques Offenbach; engraving by André Gill from the cover of La Lune, 1866

Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture

by Laurence Senelick

The Real “Tales of Hoffmann”: Origin, History, and Restoration of an Operatic Masterpiece

by Vincent Giroud and Michael Kaye, with a foreword by Plácido Domingo
By the time he died in 1880 at the age of sixty-one, Jacques Offenbach had composed more than one hundred works of musical theater, from two-character sketches to full-scale operas. Yet today, in the United States at any rate, his reputation rests primarily on just one piece, his very last—Les …

Ironists of a Vanished Empire

Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire

by Marjorie Perloff
There is a whole academic industry devoted to the writers, thinkers, and artists who flourished in Weimar Germany—figures like Thomas Mann, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, and Kurt Schwitters. But Marjorie Perloff believes that this focus on Germany has cast a shadow over the distinctively different work done by twentieth-century German writers who lived in the territories once belonging to the Habsburg Empire.

NYR DAILY

The Strange Paradise of Paul Scheerbart

In general, to predict that technology will solve all the problems it has caused—that we can innovate ourselves out of global warming, for instance—today seems childishly, intolerably optimistic. It is exactly that kind of unfashionable, childlike hopefulness that animates the writing of Paul Scheerbart, a German writer whose name is only now becoming familiar to English readers, a hundred years after his death.