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The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal



In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Nov 21, 2014 12:46 PM

Illustration from Mr. Bliss , a little-known children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien

Recent links of interest:

The story of the first painting to sell for over a million pounds

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Manners makyth man

by James Bowman

Posted: Nov 20, 2014 02:06 PM

Sir William Dugdale, Bt.

“Know thyself” — in the words of the ancient Greek maxim that was inscribed outside the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and once known to all who received the education of a gentleman. It would have been good advice for Matthew Norman, a columnist for London Independent, who apparently did not receive such an education. He writes today with an almost unbelievable smugness and condescension of his own, of the recent death of Sir William Dugdale, an uncle of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, that he typified his class’s remoteness from everyday life and sympathy with ordinary folk.

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Mahler without climax

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Nov 20, 2014 01:02 PM

Michael Tilson Thomas

Not that you asked, but here is a little of my history with the Mahler symphonies: The Seventh was the last domino to fall. The Symphony No. 7 was the last Mahler symphony I fully embraced, loved, and revered. I always loved the last movement, mind you—who can resist it? It is a festival in C major, a younger cousin of the Siegfried finale and many other C-major celebrations.

If I could have bought a record of the last movement only, I would have. The first four movements of the Seventh were befuddling. But when I fell for them—the whole symphony—I fell hard, and forever.

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At the Philharmonic: Olé!

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Nov 19, 2014 11:36 AM

Leonard Slatkin

El Salón México is a piece of “musical tourism,” to use an old phrase. It is not to be confused with the Cuban Overture, another piece of musical tourism. The former is by Copland, the latter by Gershwin.

Copland’s Mexican piece opened a concert of the New York Philharmonic recently. The orchestra had a guest conductor, Leonard Slatkin, about whom I had a funny thought. For many years—all of my life, really—I have thought of him as Felix Slatkin’s son. But isn’t it time to stop? Well past time?

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Nov 14, 2014 12:54 PM

Lichtgrenze 2014 : 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall

Recent links of interest:

Why Read New Books?
Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books
Why not live in the past? Wouldn’t you rather let your critical faculties wither? Isn’t it easier not to adjust to the new? Am I giving the answer away?

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Briefly Noted: Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

by Christie Davies

Posted: Nov 13, 2014 01:09 PM

Anselm Kiefer, Velimir Khlebnikov: Fates of Nations: The New Theory of War. Time, Dimension of the World, Battles at Sea Occur Every 317 Years or Multiples Thereof, Namely 317 x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 . . . . . . . .,2011-14. Image via

Who would have ever thought that models of rusting U-boats in a huge glass tank would dominate the revered Royal Academy Courtyard?  The German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer named Velimir Khlebnikov:  Fates of Nations, The New Theory of War (2011-2014) after the early twentieth-century Futurist poet and numerologist, who calculated that decisive sea battles always occur every 317 years. The sequence of Lepanto, Trafalgar, Tsushima, Jutland, Midway does not really support this hypothesis, but the sinister, hovering U-boats work well in bringing war to mind. In this they fit well with many of Kiefer’s other pieces, uncomfortable reminders of a tragic recent past.  

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Some Thoughts on Veterans’ Day

by James Bowman

Posted: Nov 11, 2014 01:35 PM


The unseemly squabble among Navy SEALs and the authorities they once served over how Osama bin Laden was killed and who killed him provides a good example of what happens when a country loses its honor culture. The native or reflexive honor is still there, reinforced by a specialized military honor culture, but the larger social environment no longer retains any sense of what honor means, apart from one’s personal beliefs and values. Without that understanding, even our men of honor — in this case the SEALs — don’t know how to behave. Nor, I scarcely need add, do the journalists who have come forward to criticize Matt Bissonnette, author of No Easy Day and Rob O’Neill, now revealed (though not without further controversy over the claim) as the SEAL whose bullets to the head killed the terrorist leader.

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Speechless (almost)

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Nov 07, 2014 11:46 AM

Joyce DiDonato, via NYT


In my forthcoming “New York Chronicle” for the magazine, I write about a recital by Elizabeth van den Heever, a young South African soprano. Her program, I say,

was a throwback. It began with Baroque music, continued with German art songs, went to a French set, and closed with music personal to the singer. That’s how it was with Leontyne Price and many other singers. But that sort of program is old-fashioned now. Administrators, critics, and academics want “themes.” They want to teach some sort of musicological lesson. To me, at least, van den Heever’s throwback was delightful. It was practically subversive.

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The New Criterion

About ArmaVirumque


( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)


In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.


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December 18, 2014

Friends, young friends, and authors event: Holiday Party 2014

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