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America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life
- Harry Mount, the London Telegraph



Confessions of a Justified Pi Enthusiast

by Lucia Ryan

Posted: Jun 24, 2015 10:10 AM

Chao Lu receiving his Guiness Book of World Records plaque

Like all things unresolved and supposedly infinite, the number, or rather the concept, pi, is totally intriguing to the human mind. We know that we may apply pi to finding the area of circles or the period of sine graphs or the volume of spherical objects, but what is it? Over one trillion of its digits have been calculated yet still pi has no tangible or known end. We acknowledge this paradox—that pi is infinite yet we could know each digit if we wanted to—and we also acknowledge its ceaselessness and wonder: Does it really go on forever? How much can we know?

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Two B's, two pairings

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jun 22, 2015 11:35 AM


From Decca, there is an album featuring Britten’s Piano Concerto and Barber’s Piano Concerto. Each composer wrote just one. The pianist on this album is an American previously unknown to me: Elizabeth Joy Roe. The conductor is a Bulgarian previously unknown to me: Emil Tabakov. (He was once in his country’s government, as minister of culture.)

The orchestra is very well-known, and one of the best in the world: the London Symphony Orchestra.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jun 19, 2015 10:15 AM

Description: Shared:BEN:BLOG POSTS:06.19.2015 ICYMI:Fenton_1-062515_jpg_600x648_q85.jpg

Waddesdon Manor, UK/Historic England/Bridgeman Images

Recent links of note:

Country house picnics (with some ace opera attached)
Guy Dammann, The Specator
Only the English could turn the high art of opera into an excuse to have a drunk picnic. Guy Dammann presents a humorous take on the very-English phenomenon of the country house opera picnic. From Glyndebourne to Garsington, the English like nothing better than a muddy romp in black tie, with opera serving merely as an entertaining diversion.

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Singing the middle-class blues

by James Bowman

Posted: Jun 17, 2015 02:58 PM

Hillary Clinton on Roosevelt Island

One sympathizes, naturally, with the incomprehension of Ella Whelan of Spiked Online when she writes of Hillary Clinton’s Roosevelt Island speech as follows:

She claimed she would be running ‘for all Americans’ and presented herself as having come from a history of hardship. Apparently, Clinton’s late mother, Dorothy Rodham, had a relatively tough start in life. . . Yet, in the context of the Great Depression, Clinton’s mother’s tale is not that startling. And, unlike a great many people of that period, Dorothy Rodham’s life turned out all right. In fact, Clinton’s own bid to join the oppressed club seems a bit of a stretch as, in her own words, her mother and father worked to ‘provide [her family] with a middle-class life’. Why then is Clinton so hell-bent on presenting her past as a misery memoir?

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The Bloomsday book

by Lucia Ryan

Posted: Jun 16, 2015 03:45 PM


Today we celebrate Bloomsday, the day on which James Joyce’s Ulysses unfolds. In recognition of the holiday, we spoke to our colleague Nola Tully, whose eBook Ulysses Bores Me So: First Reactions to Joyce’s Masterpiece, is just out from Random House. A compilation of quotes, essays, and articles about Joyce’s modernist masterpiece, the collection follows Tully’s 2004 book yes I said yes I Will Yes (Vintage), and offers us a peek into the minds of great readers, including Joyce’s contemporaries.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 11:00 AM

Lewis Carroll

Recent links of note:

Casualties of the College Culture Wars
Lapham's Quarterly
A short review of those "offensive" mascots who lost their battles with the culture police. Though these mascots aren't the only "casualties" of the so-called culture wars, they're almost assuredly the most visible.

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Not quite at 'Home'

by Natasha Simons

Posted: Jun 11, 2015 11:45 AM

Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel’s much-feted graphic memoir Fun Home is a deeply internal work of nonfiction, a philosophical exploration of ipseity that is tightly and almost microscopically focused on the minutiae of human life, while also expanding itself to the epic scope of Greek myth and classic American fiction. It is the coming-of-age and coming-out story of a young lesbian who finds out her father is also gay, and a procurer of underage young men, mere months before his suicide.

Broadway is…an odd place to work that out. Not to play the snob, but the stage is unavoidably a more blunt instrument than a book, and I felt that keenly while watching the musical adaptation of Fun Home. Now playing at Circle in the Square after its original Public Theater run, it has recently won the Tony Award for Best Musical along with four more top categories, cementing its status as the hippest thing going right now. It is certainly an ambitious and often emotional show that nevertheless struggles with the tone and technique of adapting such cerebral material to the stage.

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The softer side of Neil LaBute

by Kyle Smith

Posted: Jun 10, 2015 02:19 PM

Josh Sadowski and Amanda Seyfried

Labeling the playwright Neil LaBute a misogynist long ago became a reflex among theater writers. “Neil LaBute’s sexist ‘Pig,’” ran the headline of a 2008 Guardian piece about his play Fat Pig. “Mention LaBute's name to some of my friends over coffee,” wrote The Guardian’s Maxie Szalwinska, “and they spit bile across the table, along with bits of their breakfast bun.” That sounds unpleasant. Better find some new friends.

In remaking the 1973 film The Wicker Man in 2006, “LaBute poisoned its well with an old familiar misogyny,” decreed The Village Voice’s Michael Atkinson. Those who offered a different take, such as John Simon, who rechristened the writer “LaBrute” in New York magazine, often declared LaBute misanthropic instead.

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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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