Benjamin Moser is the author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector and the editor of the new translations of Lispector’s works at New Directions. He is a columnist for the New York Times Book Review and is currently completing the authorized biography of Susan Sontag.


Not Rembrandt, But…

Jan Lievens: Portrait of Rembrandt, circa 1629

Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered

a recent exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Milwaukee Art Museum; and the Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam
Two large Rembrandt reproductions hung on the wall of my grandmother’s guest room. Pains had been taken to make them look authentic. They were elaborately framed and printed on an expensive polymer scuffed to suggest craquelure. The figure on the left, robed and beturbanned, looked so much like my grandmother …

Rembrandt—The Jewish Connection?

Rembrandt's Jews

by Steven Nadler

De "joodse" Rembrandt: De mythe ontrafeld [The "Jewish" Rembrandt: The Myth Revealed]

an exhibition at the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, November 10, 2006–February 4, 2007.
“J’aime les juifs!” Holland’s foremost painter shouts as he moves through seventeenth-century Amsterdam’s busy streets. The scene, in Charles Matton’s 1999 film Rembrandt, unwittingly recalls another, from the film of the same name made fifty-eight years before by German director Hans Steinhoff. Already well known for his Hitlerjunge Quex, about …


On Afric's Shore: A History of Maryland in Liberia, 1834–1857

by Richard L. Hall
On November 27, 1833, the decrepit brig Ann, under the direction of a violent alcoholic captain, sailed out of Baltimore harbor. Aboard were several missionaries and twenty-two African-Americans who, under the sponsorship of the state of Maryland and various private philanthropists, intended to found a “virtuous commonwealth of teetotaling freeholders” …

Small Wonder

Carel Fabritius 1622–1654 Young Master Painter

Carel Fabritius 1622–1654

by Frederik J. Duparc, with contributions by Gero Seelig and Ariane van Suchteren
On a tranquil autumn morning in 1654, 80,000 pounds of gunpowder exploded in the middle of Delft, destroying a third of the city. The ill-fated arsenal was located just down the street from the home of Carel Fabritius, “the greatest artist that Delft or Holland ever had.” Decades later, in …


Llansol, Poet of the Posthumous

Portugal, 1976

To read Geography of Rebels is to wonder whether a work such as this, with its severed body parts and abruptly truncated sentences, could have ever been written for a country where it might have conceivably been published. One can easily imagine the despair that a writer would feel at finding herself exiled and unpublishable in middle age. Literary history offers abundant examples of people in similar situations who gave up on art, and on life. Only a woman of uncommon strength could have made virtues of those necessities, and one is constantly amazed by the courage that it must have taken Llansol to write like this. To do so, she had to give up on writing as a career; to accept that a lifetime of work might be destined for the rubbish-heap—and go ahead anyway.

Dreaming Up Rio

Sugarloaf Mountain viewed from Botafogo Beach, circa 1900

To some Olympic tourists—those not frightened off by the reports of raw sewage and mosquito-borne disease—Marc Ferrez’s Rio, seen in a new collection of photographs, will seem unspeakably distant from the huge graffitied metropolis of today. But a closer look will reveal that, despite the changes over the last century, some similarities remain, less in the city than in the highly artistic view being held up for their admiration.