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The New Criterion

Quite simply, the best cultural review in the world
- John O’Sullivan



Roaring beauty

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Nov 25, 2015 12:10 PM

Daniil Trifonov last night/Photo Courtesy: The New York Philharmonic; Credit: Chris Lee

Under Lorin Maazel, the New York Philharmonic staged a Beethoven festival. Then they staged a Tchaikovsky festival. Some people blew a gasket. Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, those stuffy old dudes! What is this, 1895? Get with the program, fogeys! Wake up and smell the Birtwistle!

Even worse than a Tchaikovsky festival, in this mindset, is a Rachmaninoff festival—which the Philharmonic has been staging in recent days. Good for them. Dare to be square!

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Nov 20, 2015 03:00 PM

Henri Rousseau, Tour Eiffel, 1898, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, via

Editor’s note: As much as we’d like to use this space to dilate on the fripperies of the art world (as we did last week), it seems inappropriate to discuss anything other than the disgusting acts of violence perpetrated last week in Paris. And so in this edition of Friday links we’ll present various viewpoints on what transpired and what’s to be done.

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Professor Obama explains his strategy

by James Bowman

Posted: Nov 19, 2015 11:28 AM

Professor Obama, via

Commenting on President Obama’s press conference in Turkey on Monday, Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary wrote this:

For all of his manifold talents, President Obama’s chief shortcoming remains a dogged refusal to ever consider the possibility that he might be mistaken. To an objective observer, the course of the war in Iraq and Syria, as well as the spread of Islamist terror on his watch, would at the very least call into question the President’s strategy. Yet everything that has happened in the last seven years has only served to deepen Obama’s conviction that he was right about everything in the first place. As much as it is hard for [George W.] Bush to shake the reputation of a failed president, he had one characteristic that Obama lacks: the ability to admit error and change his mind to adapt to circumstances.

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Substantially good

by Adam Schwartzman

Posted: Nov 18, 2015 01:28 PM

A half century after publication, John Williams’ Stoner has been reissued in hardback by the New York Review of Books, accompanied by some 20 pages of correspondence between the author and his agent Marie Rodell.1 That Stoner endures at all, let alone in a fiftieth anniversary edition, is somewhat remarkable. The novel struggled to find a publisher, had an unimpressive initial run of 2,000 copies, and quickly receded from public view. Stoner remained largely unnoticed until it was reissued in paperback in 2003, also by NYRB. A French translation by Anna Gavalda gained enormous popularity across Europe, leading the novel to become a bestseller for the first time in its 40 year history.

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Bronfman embarks on a (Prokofiev) project

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Nov 16, 2015 02:55 PM

Sergei Prokofiev, via

On Friday night, Yefim Bronfman, the Russian-born pianist, gave a recital in Zankel Hall. His program was all-Prokofiev—the first four piano sonatas by that composer. He will play all of them this season at Carnegie Hall (of which Zankel is a constituent).

How many piano sonatas by Prokofiev are there? Well, it depends on how you count—but the consensus is nine.

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Kimball on the rise of the "crybully"

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Nov 15, 2015 06:12 PM

Light and truth: two things one seems to find very litte of at Yale these days

It's no secret that we at The New Criterion follow the continuing degradation of higher education in America with a close eye. Just this season we've had occasion to comment on attacks on free speech and good sense at Williams and Yale. Since then, our editor, the indefatigable Roger Kimball, has sought to explain the the ways that students have fought against our foundational values in various outlets. The phenomenon of the aggrieved student may be difficult for our readers to understand (so ridiculous it all seems), but fear not, an explanation is forthcoming. In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, and later picked up by The Drudge Report, Kimball identifies and seeks to elucidate the evolution of the "crybully, who has weaponized his coveted status as a victim." We offer below a brief selection from the piece but readers should head straight to the Wall Street Journal's website to read a masterful evaluation of the academy's latest ills.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Nov 13, 2015 01:26 PM

Liu Yiqian sipping from his famous tea cup/ Photo: Sotheby’s

Recent links of note:

Keep Calm and Carry Buckets, Britain's Parliament is Leaking
Jenny Gross, The Wall Street Journal
This week, in the annals of state buildings falling apart, we offer a notice from old Blighty. Britain’s Parliament is leaking, having not been renovated since the middle of the nineteenth century. That’s a long time to go without repairs and the total bill has been estimated at between $4.5 and $10.8 billion. The sum is not insignificant, especially in a country with a prized austerity program. Perhaps they should just let the leaks continue, especially if the drops fall mostly on Comrade Corbyn’s head.

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Of lies and liars

by James Bowman

Posted: Nov 12, 2015 02:37 PM

Enrico Mazzanti's Pinocchio, 1883, via

Way back in 2012 in the pages of The New Criterion, I wrote an essay (see “Lexicographic Lies” in The New Criterion of October 2012) on the subtle re-definition of the word “lie,” which has had a much more profound impact on our public life even than I realized at the time. Briefly stated, the idea was that in virtually every up-to-date dictionary, the distinction between “lie” and “mistake” has been elided by the elimination from the definition of what had once been thought crucial to the meaning of the word, which was any intention to deceive. I wondered at the time whether this had been done retroactively in order to justify the chant of the anti-war left, “When Bush (or Blair) lied, how many died?”

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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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