Virgil Thomson (1896–1989) was a composer and critic. He collaborated extensively with Gertrude Stein, who wrote the libretti for his operas Four Saints in Three Actsand The Mother of Us All. In 1988 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.


Words and Music

When I began in the early 1920s to compose music for texts by Gertrude Stein, my main purpose was musical. Or let us say musical and linguistic. For the tonal art is forever bound up with language, even though a brief separation does sometimes take place in the higher civilizations, …

Music Does Not Flow

Comparing history to a stream, no doubt an urgent idea when new, seems nowadays less vigorous, especially regarding the arts. So also does belief in their continuing progress, as if any series of related events involved necessarily a destination. Myself, I prefer to think of the arts as a museum …

A Good Writer

Janet Flanner's World: Uncollected Writings 1932-1975

edited by Irving Drutman, introduction by William Shawn

The Cubical City

by Janet Flanner
Citizen Genêt came to the United States in 1793 as minister from France’s First Republic. Though on account of political indiscretions a recall was asked for by President Washington in that same year, he actually stayed on as a resident and married here. During his short diplomatic tenure he had …

Looking for the Lost Generation

Published in Paris: American and British Writers, Printers, and Publishers in Paris, 1920-1939

by Hugh Ford, with a foreword by Janet Flanner
In France the 1920s are known as l’époque. The Thirties, less glamorous artistically, though grander far in a destructive way, are called simply les années trente. Both are nevertheless a part of the twenty-year armistice during which Europe and America prepared themselves for going on with the World War. And …