To celebrate The New York Review’s fifty-fifth anniversary, we are featuring one article from each year of the magazine’s history. Today’s selection, from the early Eighties, includes Renata Adler’s infamous critique of Pauline Kael, an essay by Ada Louise Huxtable on modern architecture, Robert Hughes on Andy Warhol, Nadine Gordimer on the dying white order of apartheid South Africa, and Stephen Jay Gould on the life and work of Barbara McClintock.
To celebrate The New York Review’s fifty-fifth anniversary, we are featuring one article from each year of the magazine’s publication. Today we survey the end of the 1970s, with Saul Bellow on boredom, Elizabeth Hardwick on Billie Holiday, Simon Leys on Maoist China, Susan Sontag on illness, and Michael Wood on Apocalypse Now.
A life in literary criticism: how Review writers read and responded to the novels of Philip Roth (1933–2018).
From 1985, Al Alvarez: What excites Roth’s verbal life—and provokes his readers—is, he seems to suggest, the opportunity fiction provides to be everything he himself is not: raging, whining, destructive, permanently inflamed, unstoppable. Irony, detachment, and wisdom are given unfailingly to other people. Even Diana, Zuckerman’s punchy twenty-year-old mistress who will try anything for a dare, sounds sane and bored and grown-up when Zuckerman is in the grip of his obsession. The truly convincing yet outlandish caricature in Roth’s repertoire is of himself.
Gore Vidal, 1974: “For thirty or forty years I have seen the name Robert Moses on the front pages of newspapers or attached to articles in that graveyard of American prose the Sunday New York Times Magazine section. But I never had a clear idea just who he was because I never got past that forbiddingly dull title Park Commissioner. I associated him with New York City and I lived upstate. I now realize what a lot I have missed.”