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Archive by category: New York Review of BooksReturn
Sep 02, 2021
Peter and Elka Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater, the anticapitalist troupe founded in 1963, occupies several buildings on the former Dopp Farm in a remote corner of Vermont. Shanties built from scrap metal and timber dot the landscape, along with some beached flowerchild school buses. When you approach the property through dense forest on a […]
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Sep 02, 2021
On June 13, as police in Managua, the hot and dusty Nicaraguan capital, were surrounding his house and preparing to arrest him, Hugo Torres made a farewell video. “These are desperate acts by a dying regime that has no legal standing,” he said. “I never thought that at this stage in my life, I would […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Of our favorite writers, we say we would read even their shopping lists. I’ve never heard anyone say such a thing about translators, and yet there are translators to whom I am similarly devoted—not simply because they can take a book written in one language and render it beautifully into mine, but because I’ve come […]
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Sep 02, 2021
The clock hangs in room 509, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s glittering new British Galleries, which reopened in March 2020 after four years of renovation and reinstallation. Elegant and expensive, crafted of oak, ebony, and brass, the clock shows the date as well as the time. It is also illuminating about other things. […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Of all the many British and American spies who served the Soviet Union, George Blake was arguably the most intriguing and certainly one of the most effective: he betrayed hundreds of agents in the 1950s, including many working for the West in East Germany. Sentenced to forty-two years behind bars after his exposure in 1961, […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Time is impassive, more animal than human. Time would not care if you fell out of it. It would continue on without you. It cannot see you; it has always been blind to the human and the things we do to stave it off, the taxonomies, the cleaning, the arranging, the ordering. —Lauren Groff And […]
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Sep 02, 2021
1. “Hemingway will be the best known of you all,” the Parisian bookseller Adrienne Monnier told a gathering of mostly Anglophone writers and literary people in Paris in the early 1920s. This crowd all knew Hemingway from the Dome and other Latin Quarter cafés. He was working on the stories that would form his first […]
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Sep 02, 2021
He wanted to meet as soon as possible,Desperately wanted me to collaborate with him to fulfillA years-overdue commission he had from the State of Israel.He had in mind some sort of Ban-the-Bomb oratorio Which would have its premier at the Knesset.We met in summertime Central ParkIn green glorious New York,But was I interested? And afterward […]
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Sep 02, 2021
In 1969, a year after Paul and Anne Ehrlich published a book predicting that a “population bomb” would set humankind on a path to widespread famine and political instability, twenty-year-old Stephanie Mills addressed her graduating class at Mills College in a bracing valedictory entitled “The Future is a Cruel Hoax.” Mills, a feminist and environmentalist […]
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Sep 02, 2021
It was surely a sign that the rule of law was finding its way into international relations when, after a world war of unmatched brutality during which new technologies of killing had claimed millions of lives, the victorious Allies decided to mount a public trial of Germany’s leaders. A special tribunal would weigh charges of […]
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Sep 02, 2021
When we say that a poem is “good”—not with the dubious implication that it’s not great but with genuine satisfaction—are we unconsciously echoing Genesis, “And God saw that it was good”? It’s not such a stretch: the poet and critic Susan Stewart theorizes that the declaration of goodness is one of the three qualities of […]
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Sep 02, 2021
The Memorial to the Fallen of the Lješanska Nahija Region, designed by Svetlana Kana Radević, stands on a small hill in Barutana, Montenegro. Concrete tendrils rise into the air, stained by time and weather; they might signify a torch, or a flower, or hands stretched upward. On one side of the torch-flower are evenly spaced […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Last fall the student council at the University of Wisconsin unanimously voted to demand the removal of a statue of Abraham Lincoln from the campus, on the grounds that despite his opposition to slavery, Lincoln was anti-Black and anti-Native. The president of the university’s Black Student Union called it a “symbol of white supremacy.” On […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Early in E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End, the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, attend a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. For Helen, the flighty younger sister, the music functions as the soundtrack to a story unfolding in her mind. She identifies the symphony’s themes with characters and events—heroes, shipwrecks, elephants dancing. Most important is the […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Has the meaning of feminism ever been more jumbled than it is today? Any woman speaking up or talking back, whether about work, sex, criticism, culture, or politics, attracts the label “feminist.” Critics nonetheless equate the word with man-hating, with racism, with bourgeois careerism, with child-hating, even with the utter destruction of gender categories. A […]
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Sep 02, 2021
Like Tantalus, classical scholars are forever glimpsing things they cannot taste, or experience, themselves. Phalanx warfare was so common in ancient Greece that most freeborn males took part in it many times. But its very ubiquity meant that Greek authors did little to describe it, relying instead on their readers’ familiarity. Their occasional offhand comments […]
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Sep 02, 2021
My money beingThe nonviolent part of rageA kind of courtesy worshipOr caste-system blues Bullet casings in the combI learned their language immediatelyI watched an animal explode into hundreds of flags Judging by my woundsThe government has counted me in Face to faceWith a police officer’s family historyMy anecdote is only just beginning
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Sep 02, 2021
The modern meaning of “drugs” is of surprisingly recent origin. Until the twentieth century, the word referred to all medications (as it still does in “drugstore”); it was only around 1900 that it developed a more specialized meaning, uniting what had previously been a disparate group of pharmaceutical products, chemicals used in medical research, and […]
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Sep 02, 2021
How can educated, functional adults swallow venomous and fantastical narratives about their neighbors and compatriots? Five years ago that question might have seemed quaint; widespread belief in demon-worshiping sects or malevolent secret societies presumably belonged to the pre-Enlightenment past. Today many of us are asking it on a regular basis. A daunting number of people […]
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Sep 02, 2021
The story sounds almost too good to be true. Its ingredients are a boxful of old letters stored in the attic of his house by a bookish and kindly uncle, his sudden death, and a niece who inherits the epistolary bounty. Elizabeth Bowen herself would have hesitated to use something so improbable as the plot […]
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Sep 02, 2021
“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits,” Thoreau wrote in his 1862 essay “Walking,” “unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” Who nowadays feels absolutely free from worldly engagements? […]
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Sep 02, 2021
“You cannot destroy the forest without spilling blood,” observes a baobab tree near the start of Véronique Tadjo’s In the Company of Men. For centuries this baobab—“the first tree, the everlasting tree, the totem tree”—has lived in the heart of a sacred forest, protected and venerated by generations of nearby villagers. But human greed changes […]
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Sep 02, 2021
In the 2018 Winter Olympics, Norway wiped the snow with its competition, racking up thirty-nine medals—the most of any nation. (Germany, which has a population sixteen times larger, was second, winning thirty-one.) Something similar has been happening in Norwegian literature in recent years, with a concentration of writers so vibrant and assured that they are […]
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Sep 02, 2021
To the Editors: Fintan O’Toole in his review of Louis Menand’s The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War [NYR, July 22] makes some remarks that cannot go unchallenged, well quite a few, but the most offensive to me concern Robert Penn Warren, whom he lumps with Cleanth Brooks, John Crowe Ransom, and […]
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Sep 02, 2021
To the Editors: There is a list in Catherine Nicholson’s article on Edmund Spenser [“The Triumph of Mutabilitie,” NYR, July 1] of writers who found The Faerie Queene ponderous. The concluding witness is Virginia Woolf: “To those eager to cultivate an appreciation for Spenser, she counseled, ‘The first essential is, of course, not to read […]
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