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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 Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 31, 2015 12:30 PM

The Carlton Tavern, Maida Vale, London. Photo credit: Steve Reed.

Recent links of note:

The Mad Challenge of Translating “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Andrea Appleton, Smithsonian
Translation is rarely an easy task. The very thing that makes languages so delightful—their peculiarities and eccentricities—is the potential undoing of any translation project. So what to do about a book that is incredibly dependent on wordplay and cultural references? Andrea Appleton investigates the ways in which translators have dealt with the problem of Alice.

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Law and the arts

by Daniel Grant

Posted: Jul 31, 2015 10:23 AM

A courtroom drawing of Glafira Rosales, dealer in forged paintings, via

In generations past, artists would grab the attention of the world—meaning, the tiny percentage of the populace that pays attention to art—by doing something that struck people as outrageous: painting completely abstract pictures, distorting the human figure, photographing private parts, applying elephant dung to a canvas. Pick your own shock-the-bourgeoisie moment.

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Laura Ford at Strawberry Hill

by Dominic Green

Posted: Jul 30, 2015 09:16 AM

 Laura Ford, Glory, Glory, 2005. Strawberry Hill, Twickenham.

The Gothic Revival reached its apogee in the public architecture of the Victorians: parliaments that resemble railway stations, and stations that resemble churches. These were tutelary buildings, cornerstones of morality as well as infrastructure: the pointed arch, Augustus Pugin declared in 1836, had been "produced by the Catholic faith." Nevertheless, it was the catholic taste of Horace Walpole, the self-styled "Abbot of Twickenham," that created the "little gothic castle" of Strawberry Hill, Britain's first comprehensive revival of the pointed arch and its medieval company.

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Chekhov on Life Support

by Jane Balkoski

Posted: Jul 29, 2015 03:00 PM

A scene from the show, via

In The Lady with the Lapdog, Chekhov's famous short story, a young wife named Anna meets a handsome (but married) banker, Dmitry. The two flirt by the beach and then, in Yalta's sultry summer heat, commit adultery. After the fact, Dmitry cuts a slice of watermelon and eats it "without haste." Anna doesn't say a word. When I first read the story, fumbling through Chekhov's original, this made me cry. I looked up the Russian arbus, which means watermelon, and a rush of pity almost knocked me off my chair. We went over the scene in class the next day, and my professor called it "comedy." I furrowed my brow.

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Seasonal work

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jul 29, 2015 10:18 AM

Gidon Kremer, the Latvian violinist, likes the seasons. He has done Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, of course, and once made an album called Eight Seasons, which combines Vivaldi and Piazzolla. He made another album called Russian Seasons, which comprises music written for him and his backup band, the Kremerata Baltica, by Leonid Desyatnikov and Alexander Raskatov. The latter based his contribution on Tchaikovsky’s Seasons.

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Who was Leonard Pelkey?

by Kyle Smith

Posted: Jul 28, 2015 03:30 PM

James Lecesnevia

“Leave[s] you beaming with joy,” a phrase that appeared in The New York Times in a review of The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, is, critic Charles Isherwood conceded, an odd way to describe a play concerning the murder of an innocent, indeed angelic, teen boy. Isherwood is focusing on the way the play encourages us to smile at the memory of Leonard, a delicate and beautiful soul, to appreciate, nurture and adore his eccentricity.

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The Depth of Ada/Ava

by Jane Balkoski

Posted: Jul 25, 2015 08:40 AM

Patients suffering from schizophrenia, epilepsy, or simple anxiety can experience "derealization." They describe these episodes using various metaphors: a veil has fallen over the world; the world feels like cardboard; the world morphs into a movie. This last metaphor is a popular one—some patients even experience a "dolly zoom," that creepy special effect favored by Hitchcock. In sum, the outside world loses its depth.

And how do you treat this condition? Some medical professionals recommend pinching yourself, touching something cold or hot, and counting all the objects in sight. You might also go see Ada/Ava at the 3LD Art and Technology Center in downtown Manhattan. The production isn't quite theatre and it isn't quite cinema. Instead, the multimedia show involves shadow and light, actors and puppets, screens and projections.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 24, 2015 12:15 PM

A commemorative Barack Obama t-shirt. Credit: Nichole Sobecki for the Wall Street Journal

Recent links of note:

Kenyans are Ready to Greet Obama With Open Cash Registers
Heidi Vogt, The Wall Street Journal
Add another accolade to President Barack Obama’s already overflowing trophy chest; apparently Mr. Obama is a “brand that generates serious capital.” At least in Kenya. Let us praise the entrepreneurial spirit of the Kenyans who, not wishing to miss a moneymaking opportunity, have organized parties and created commemorative attire to mark the President’s impending visit to Nairobi. Get your Obama-themed ringtones while they’re hot.

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An act of devotion

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jul 24, 2015 10:08 AM

It is one of the oddest works in music history—odd in its nature, structure, and performance history. It is also a work of sublimity.

I speak of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross. It was commissioned in 1783 for the Good Friday service of a church in Cádiz. People there had the tradition of blackening the church for Good Friday—of covering the windows, walls, and so on with black cloth. Only a lamp hanging from the center of the roof provided light.

Haydn wrote the Seven Last Words for orchestra. In short order, he adapted it for string quartet. A decade after that, he fashioned an oratorio out of it. Moreover, he approved a piano version.

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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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