Sign in  |  Register

The New Criterion

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



In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Oct 10, 2014 01:44 PM

Money in the abstract: the back of the new Norwegian 100 kroner bill, designed by Snøhetta (all images via


Links of interest from the past week:

Confessions of an Aesthete: “To be an aesthete in an idea-driven age is to run the risk of being dismissed as irrelevant by those who prefer ideas to beauty.”

Building Imaginary Cities: Fictional cities and fantastical architecture somehow seep into the real-life places we inhabit. 

Hymn Book of Less-Than-Common Prayer: Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is a masterpiece, as we all (should) know. But what makes it so?

Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge: The professionalization of the job of writing cuts authors off from society; their work no longer represents real life.

That said, the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Patrick Modiano: “For the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

From our pages:

The ambiguous witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The complicated legacy of the anti-Nazi theologian.

E-mail to friend

Science by hand

by Bria Sandford

Posted: Oct 09, 2014 11:16 AM

Johann Friederich Wilhelm Herbst (German, 1743-1807). Illustration of Cancer reticulatus from Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse… (Attempt at a natural history of crabs and crayfish…)

Sometimes the human eye, a good aesthetic sense, and a steady hand are the best scientific tools. During the late 1700s, the German churchman-turned-naturalist Johann Herbst demonstrated this when he produced a three-volume encyclopedia of crabs and crayfish. A skilled artist, he engraved and hand-tinted meticulous drawings of each species he identified, most notably of Cancer reticulatus and Cancer cedonulli. Later scientists, dismissing as overzealous Herbst's careful differentiation of the crabs' coloring, concluded that the two species were really one. They were wrong. DNA testing eventually vindicated Herbst's powers of observation; his classification had been correct all along. 

Reproductions of Herbst’s engravings are currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History as part of an exhibit entitled “Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.” The exhibit’s name isn’t exactly riveting, and its unassuming location in a rear hallway hasn’t helped it compete with dinosaur fossils for museum-goers’ attention over the past year. But the sheer beauty, technical mastery, and backstories of the fifty illustrations testify to a very human side of natural history, making the exhibit well worth seeing before it closes on October 12.

The value of the editorial eye is seen in a display of Giacommi Saverio Poli’s work. The father of malacology, the study of mollusks, Poli was the first person to classify mollusks by their interiors instead of their shells. Dissecting the mollusks, he drew intricate illustrations of delicate shells with the shell’s resident outside, sometimes coiled around its home. The drawings are graceful and ethereal, a far cry from the scene Poli probably encountered while extracting the mollusks. In this sense, his drawings are inaccurate. Yet they are also true; Poli knew enough of the mollusks’ interiors to see past the messiness of a damaging extraction and articulate the beauty of the hidden creatures.


Guiseppe Saverio Poli (Italian, 1746-1825). Illustration of female paper nautilus (Argonauta argo) from Testacea utriusque Siciliae… 

Although it often resulted in beauty, the process of scientific illustration between 1500 and 1900 had some inherent flaws. The creation of a scientific illustration was complex; usually a naturalist would suggest the subject, an artist would sketch it, an engraver and a printer would produce prints, and a colorist would hand tint each copy. By the time an illustration made it into a book, it would be four or five steps removed from its subject. The colors of fish might vary, or the shape of a leaf might be altered because of misinterpretation during the production process. These errors were understandable but could also result in miscategorization.

There were also less excusable inaccuracies; occasionally illustrators used dead specimens as models or drew without any models at all, producing drawings bearing little resemblance to reality. Some mistakes, such as those found in Albert Seba’s otherwise accurate Thesaurus, are laughable; Seba had never seen a live sloth, so he drew an anatomically correct depiction of a sloth in an impossible upright position. Durer’s famous depiction of a rhinoceros in a suit of armor was based on a secondhand description. And Louis Renard’s colorful tropical fish sported shockingly human expressions, perhaps because Renard felt pressure to make his drawings sensational.


Louis Renard (French, 1678-1746). Illustration from Poissons, écrevisses et crabes, de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires…

Despite their errors, illustrators were essential to the work of scientists classifying the natural world. Seba’s work, flawed as it was, illustrated the classifications of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, and his illustrations today clarify ambiguities in Linnaeus’s work. Other artists were less helpful to the classification process; Lorenz Oken, whose exquisite drawing of bird eggs is one of the finest pieces in the exhibit, classified his subjects by how many of the five human senses they possessed. Despite his flawed taxonomy, his drawings still recorded valuable detail.

The stories behind the other pieces in the exhibit range from the charming to the bizarre. Freidrich Heinrich Wilhelm Martini quixotically attempted to document all 100,000 mollusk species but died before completing his project. John James Audobon’s sons married the daughters of his co-illustrator. Robert Hooke’s drawings of magnified crystals of frozen urine grace the wall next to delightful line drawings of jellyfish drawn by Ernst Haeckel, whose fraudulent depictions of embryonic recapitulation of evolution were conveniently omitted from the exhibit.      


Lorenz Oken (German, 1779-1851). Illustration from Allgemeine Naturgeschichte für alle Stände (A general natural history for everyone). 

Unfortunately, the exhibit has two notable flaws, the first relatively minor. While the enlarged reproductions of the drawings highlight their fine detail, it’s disappointing not to see the original artwork, or at least original editions of the books from which the illustrations were taken. Displaying even one or two of the old tomes would have lent a sense of scale and antiquity to the exhibit.

More concerning is the museum’s decision to include illustrations of indigenous peoples in the display. Drawings of Native Americans are mixed in with drawings of insects and Australian marsupials, leaving the viewer with the distinct sense that the artists thought their subjects were a little behind in their evolution. This is perhaps unsurprising, since social Darwinism was prevalent during several of the illustrators’ lifetimes, but a curatorial note explaining the origins of this hint of racism would have been helpful.

However, even this last flaw points to the beauty of “Natural Histories”—along with pleasing the eye and stimulating the brain, the exhibit reminds viewers that even today science is conducted by people who have points of view, use hands and eyes, and make choices about what is important. This human element sometimes results in error, but it also results in a beauty and accuracy obtainable no other way. 


"Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library" opened at the American Museum of Natural History on October 19, 2013, and remains on view through October 12, 2014.

E-mail to friend

Critic's Notebook for October 6, 2014

by Christine Emba

Posted: Oct 06, 2014 04:54 PM


Sign up to receive “Critic's Notebook” in your inbox every Monday—it only takes a few seconds and it's completely free! “Critic's Notebook” is a weekly preview of the best to read, see, and hear in culture, compiled by the editors of The New Criterion.

This week: A return to Gilead, Matisse’s cut-outs, and the Berlin Philharmonic in New York.

Fiction: Lila, by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): Revisiting the characters and setting of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Robinson returns to the town of Gilead with the story of Lila, the young bride of the elderly Reverend Ames. Having been neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by a rough but kind drifter named Doll, and brought up in a hardscrabble childhood. After she arrives in Gilead Lila struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband, which paradoxically judges those she loves. CE

Nonfiction: Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age, by James Essinger (Melville House): Behind every great man, there’s a great woman; no other adage more aptly describes the relationship between Charles Babbage, the man credited with thinking up the concept of the programmable computer, and mathematician Ada Lovelace, whose contributions proved indispensable to Babbage’s invention.  Lovelace, the only legitimate child of English poet Lord Byron, wrote extensive notes about the Analytical Engine, including an algorithm to compute a long sequence of Bernoulli numbers which some observers now consider to be the world’s first computer program. Readers are treated to an intimate portrait of Lovelace’s short but significant life along with an abbreviated history of 19th-century high-society London. —RH

Poetry: Alexander Nazaryan on John Berryman:  Previously published in The New Criterion (read some of his work here), Nazaryan reflects on the American poet’s life and death, as well as the works soon to be reissued on the centenary of Berryman’s birth, October 25.  DY

Art: Henri Matisse: the Cut-Outs" at the Museum of Modern Art (opening Sunday, October 12)  and Egon Schiele: Portraits" at the Neue Galerie (opening Thursday, October 9): In the late 1940s, Henri Matisse turned almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium, and scissors as his chief implement. MOMA is presenting the most extensive presentation of his cut-outs ever mounted, sparked by an initiative to conserve The Swimming Pool, a particularly monumental cut-out acquired in 1975.  Meanwhile, the Neue Galerie opens a special exhibition devoted to portraits by the expressive, controversial, and masterful Austrian artist Egon Schiele, whose work is central to the Galerie’s mission. JP

Music:  The Berlin Philharmonic in New York (October 5-8) and Lisa Batiashvili with the New York Philharmonic (October 9-14): The Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle are wrapping up their week-long New York residency by finishing a complete cycle of the Schumann symphonies at Carnegie Hall (Monday), and then with two performances of Bach's St. Matthew Passion on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Park Avenue Armory, semi-staged by the controversial director Peter Sellars, to open the White Light Festival. This orchestra, one of the very best in the world, is not to be missed, and comes to New York but once a year, at most. On Thursday and continuing through the weekend, Lisa Batiashvili, the most exciting of a rich field of young violinists, will play the Brahms Violin Concerto with the New York Philharmonic. She is the Philharmonic's artist-in-residence this year, so there will be opportunities to hear her later in the season, but not in such towering repertoire as this.ECS

Other: Alexei Ratmansky in conversation with Paul Holdengraber, Live at NYPL (October 8):  Alexei Ratmansky has performed with and choreographed for some of the world’s greatest ballet companies, including the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet. He now takes to a very different stage to reflect on his life’s work, which earned him a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013. —RH

From the archive: Against modernity: The American Academy in the ‘20s, by Cynthia Ozick: On the American Academy of Arts & Letters under the direction of Charles Underwood Johnson.

From our latest issue: A Schoolboy’s Guide to War, by Andrew Stuttaford: On the contributions of England’s public school boys during the First World War. 





E-mail to friend

In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Oct 03, 2014 02:58 PM

From Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, by W. O. Dement for Harold Fisk (1944)


Choral music not heard since era of Henry VIII has been played for first time in 500 years
A book of songs given to Henry VIII was unearthed in the vaults of the British Library; it has now been brought to life with a choir and period instruments. ("One died, one survived..." is not one of the tunes).

Woven and Severed
“[In his book, Why Homer Matters] Nicolson is concerned to answer two questions: “where does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter?” His answer to the first question […] gives us heroes. His answer to the second question […] gives us poetry. What Nicolson makes of the relation between them is a powerful exploration of the value of literature.” 

T. S. Eliot “lacked flamboyance,” but did pick up the British U. And why not? He was a friend of the Mitfords, after all. 

Clive James on his late flowering
“I am in the slightly embarrassing position where I write poems saying I am about to die and I don’t.” 

How to Stop Time
The battle against procrastination may not be worth winning. (Also of note: "passive-agressive personality disorder.")

From our pages:

Standing Up to Allah At Yale
Yale president Peter Salovey takes a stand for free speech.

E-mail to friend

Opening Night at Carnegie: Who could forget Dohr?!

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Oct 02, 2014 01:48 PM

Sir Simon Rattle; photo by Jim Rakete

Outside Carnegie Hall last night, there was a red carpet. Not just for celebs, but for everybody. It was Opening Night. Inside the hall, there were red flowers. Critics with horticultural skills could tell you what they were. Let me say they were poinsettia-like, sort of.

The orchestra last night was the Berlin Philharmonic. The conductor was the BPO’s longtime music director, Sir Simon Rattle. And the soloist was Anne-Sophie Mutter, the starry German violinist.

The program consisted of favorites, not to say chestnuts: the Symphonic Dances of Rachmaninoff; Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor; and Stravinsky’s Firebird (excerpts from). This was “hum-along time,” as the formidable critic Martin Bernheimer says.

As a rule, I like hum-along time. I’ve been defending the performance of familiar music, even overly familiar music, my whole life. I am the squarest of the square. But even for me, this program was a little square. Opening Night might have included something more offbeat.

That said, the Symphonic Dances are not often played these days, or so it seems to me. They were an orchestral staple, back when. So was the Rachmaninoff tone poem Isle of the Dead.

One thing that distinguishes Carnegie Hall’s opening night from the two other big opening nights—that of the New York Philharmonic and that of the Metropolitan Opera—is this: no national anthem. I kind of miss it. True, it would be strange for a German orchestra (for example) to play “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And at least there’s a flag on Carnegie Hall’s stage.

The Symphonic Dances are rather a concerto for orchestra: Lots of first-desk players have solos. There is even a chance for the sax to shine. Everyone in the BPO shone; this is not an orchestra for weak links. The dances are also a chance for an orchestra in general to show off its color. The BPO was colorful indeed.

In the first movement, there is unison string playing, giving a dreamy “out on the steppes” feeling. The BPO handled this beautifully.

Overall, the dances were smooth, polished, and accurate. On the podium, Sir Simon did nothing stupid—he never does. But were the dances exciting, as they can be, and ought to be? Not really. Sir Simon is ever modulated, ever a moderate. That can be advantageous. Sometimes, less so.

Out walked La Mutter, for the Bruch concerto. I have a friend—a violinist, as it happens—who says, “I don’t go for the playing anymore. I just go for the dress.” Mutter looked smashing indeed: glamorous, hourglassy, as always. Also, blondish, I would say. That was new (to me).

Her playing was respectable, even good, in the first two movements. Most important, she took the concerto seriously. She was not slumming. She was tasteful, poised, and mature.

In the Prelude, she breathed like a singer. Her playing was notably singerly. And Sir Simon, I must say, conducted as though his life depended on it. He was not slumming, far from it. He can bring great care and vitality to these Romantic concertos. I remember a Rachmaninoff D-minor he did with Yefim Bronfman. I had never noticed the orchestral part so much.

Mutter, in the Adagio of her concerto, played with delicacy and beauty. But in the Finale—the pièce de résistance—she lost it. What happened?

I don’t know. But her intonation failed her, and so did her memory: She had a slip. The final movement was never comfortable, never in the groove, never itself. I wish she could have had a do-over.

But “life is not a studio recording,” as I like to say. Anything can happen in a concert hall, which is something that makes concert life thrilling.

Tonight, still in Carnegie Hall, the BPO will play the complete Firebird. Last night, the orchestra played beloved excerpts: the Infernal Dance, the Lullaby, and the Finale, that great, swelling, uplifting thing. Sir Simon and the orchestra were fine. But was the music electric, emotional, moving? I’m afraid not. It suffered from the quality of okayness.

But toward the end, a miracle occurred. The French horn came in. I had forgotten that Stefan Dohr was in this orchestra! His little solo was a piece of startling perfection. Dohr is not only one of the great horn players, he is one of the great instrumentalists. His moment—and Stravinsky’s, we should add—practically made the evening.

E-mail to friend

Mozartean and Da Pontesque

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 30, 2014 10:43 AM

Isabel Leonard and Marlis Petersen in Le Nozze di Figaro; photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

When James Levine appeared in the pit on Saturday night, the crowd at the Metropolitan Opera went nuts. They were happy to see him, because the conductor has had a host of health problems, and is back in action. Of course, they were happy to see him even before these problems set in. On Saturday night, he waved at the audience for a good long time, expressing his appreciation. Then he got down to work.

His work was The Marriage of Figaro, the Mozart–Da Ponte opera. The overture was not Levine’s crispest or most stylish. But it was plenty good. So was his conducting of the rest of the opera. I have often spoken of Levine’s “just rightness,” especially in Mozart: a sure sense of tempo, phrasing, weight, and overall spirit. I have also spoken of a “natural law” of Mozart—a law to which all good Mozarteans conform. At his best, Levine conveys a sense of inevitability and inarguability: “This is not interpretation. This is the way it goes, period, according to the law.”

A funny instance occurred in the first act on Saturday night. The aria “Non so più” started too fast, or unnaturally fast, or unaccustomedly fast. Then Levine slowed it to its tempo giusto (by my lights, if not the “law’s”). Perhaps, and probably, the conductor had a dramatic purpose.

Playing the harpsichord on this evening, accompanying the recitatives, was Robert Morrison. He played with unusual robustness, even volume. This assertiveness was welcome.

The Met has a new production of Figaro by Sir Richard Eyre, the English director. The show begins with a beautiful nude girl, emerging from a bedroom (or somewhere). For a second, I didn’t know where I was: Was I in Salzburg or some other European city, or was I home in New York? In Salzburg, it is virtually de rigueur to begin a production with nudity. This is the director’s way of assuring everybody that he’s not a square.

But Sir Richard is a square, and I’ll tell you why: In a proper “subversive” production of Figaro, Susanna is freely conducting an affair with the Count, and the Countess is freely conducting an affair with Cherubino. Ideally, Susanna will join in with the Countess and Cherubino. The proper modern director rewrites the opera.

Not this director, not Richard Eyre. His Figaro is utterly Mozartean, and Da Pontesque. It is witty, fizzy, and delightful. It’s suggestive and sly, not blunt and coarse. Also, it is moving. I think of an old line: “If you want to know how to direct an opera, listen to the music.” This notion can be carried too far—but Sir Richard’s production does seem informed by the music.

Here is another line: “A building ought to be a grace to its environment, not a disgrace.” That’s Frank Lloyd Wright. His line applies to opera productions. And this new production is a grace to Figaro.

Singing the title role on Saturday night was Ildar Abdrazakov, the Russian bass. He has many virtues, one of which is versatility. He can sing Verdi, Mozart, Russian roles, other repertoire. His voice is big—or substantial, let’s say—yet it can flit. And, as I’ve often remarked, he has an uncanny ability to sing in tune.

Moreover, he knew his character, Figaro. For example, his “Se vuol ballare” had the right perturbation. Just for the record, that aria also had some unusual ornamentation. Was this Levine-approved, Mozart-approved? Both, I wager.

Susanna was Marlis Petersen, the veteran German soprano. Now and then, she was a little hard to hear—she was slightly faint, I mean—but she was a thorough pro, as usual. There is something else that should be said about her: Nice gams (as the production requires, or, at any rate, incorporates).

The Count was Peter Mattei, singing reliably. I’m not sure I’ve ever known this Swedish baritone to sing unsatisfactorily—even when you can’t endorse every note. Like Abdrazakov and other members of this cast, he knew his character: a caddish and befuddled aristo longing to hold on to his dignity. In certain poses, Mattei looked rather like the actor Dan Aykroyd.

Portraying the Countess was a soprano new to the Met, Amanda Majeski, an American. What she did not have was great beauty of sound. What she did have was breath control, sincerity, and self-possession.

Isabel Leonard was the “girl playing a boy playing a girl”—i.e., the mezzo-soprano in the role of Cherubino. She was rather convincing as a boy, amazingly enough. Frankly, she looked a bit like Alfalfa, from the Little Rascals. More amazingly, she was convincing as a boy playing a girl. In everything she did—vocal, musical, or theatrical—she was whip-smart.

I might mention here that there was no Italian in this cast, to my knowledge—I mean, no Italian member of it. But everyone’s Italian was passable at worst. And Leonard’s was natural.

To conclude, three footnotes, please:

1) I sometimes say, “One day, a bass is a star, bestriding the stage as Boris Godunov or Don Giovanni or King Philip. And the next thing you know, he’s asking for the rent.” What I mean is, a bass, in his later years, may be playing the character role of Benoît, the landlord in La bohème.

In Saturday night’s Figaro, Susanne Mentzer was Marcellina. She sang and acted the role superbly. She was perfect. And there’s no reason she shouldn’t be singing Marcellina at this point. It is utterly appropriate. Still, I think of her as a mezzo star, not as Ruth Buzzi, clocking people with her handbag. I felt a twinge.

2) To many, Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, is a villain. The egotistical overlord who insulted the holy labor unions. I have no doubt that he can be tough or impossible to work for. I also have no doubt that the Met has benefited by his presence. Some people say he’s paid too much. Hell, I’d give him more.

3) There is no “best opera,” obviously. Julius Caesar? Fidelio? Parsifal? La Traviata? Elektra? But if someone held a gun to your head and threatened to splatter your brains on the sidewalk unless you named the best opera, you could do worse—a lot worse—than to blurt out, “The Marriage of Figaro.” The more you know it, the more you are in awe.

E-mail to friend

Ho-hum, It’s Turner Prize Time Again

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 30, 2014 07:31 AM

I had almost forgotten about the Turner Prize, one of the art world’s longest running and most boring bad jokes.  You remember the Turner Prize: it’s Britain’s tired adolescent effort to show that the avant garde is not dead, it just has nothing to do with art. Begun in 1984, the TP is 30 this […]

go to PJ Media

Critic's Notebook for September 29, 2014

by Eric C. Simpson

Posted: Sep 29, 2014 03:27 PM

America Today, mural by Thomas Benton

Sign up to receive “Critic's Notebook” in your inbox every Monday—it only takes a few seconds and it's completely free! “Critic's Notebook” is a weekly preview of the best to read, see, and hear in culture, compiled by the editors of The New Criterion.

This week: The Great War, the Cold War, and the Versailles fallacy. 

Fiction: No Man’s Land: Fiction from a World at War: 1914–1918, edited by Pete Ayrton (Pegasus): The First World War, like many conflicts that came before it, brought with it a wealth of artistic output across a variety of media. Owen, Britten, Remarque, Sargent, and others all contributed major works in their respective fields. Edited by Pete Ayrton, this new anthology presents the war through the lens of fiction, drawing on works by authors from all of the main belligerents. Included are works by Siegfried Sassoon, D. H. Lawrence, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, and forty-three others. ECS

Nonfiction: The Russia–China Axis: The New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership, by Douglas E. Schoen and Melik Kaylan (Encounter): The post-Soviet world is as dangerous as it has been since the end of the Cold War, but America continues to retire from her role as a stabilizing force. Russia and China, meanwhile, states that have supported rogue regimes, made brazen land grabs, and willfully destabilized their neighbors, seem to be establishing a new global alignment that is only increasing in its influence. Schoen and Kaylan argue that America must reassume her responsibility as a world leader or the consequences of the alliance will be dire. Look for Schoen’s “Letter from Kiev” in our October issue. ECS

Poetry: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works, translated by Edith Grossman (Norton): Previously acclaimed for her translations of Cervantes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa, Grossman has compiled translations of selected works of Sor Juana in a new volume, released today. Read a selection here.  DY

Art: City as Subject (Westbeth Gallery, NYC, September 20—October 5) and America Today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (September 30–April 19): New York has long been at the center of America’s contemporary art scene, but has not always been the focus of the artists living and working here. Curated by Xico Greenwald, a new exhibition at Westbeth, the nonprofit artist colony in the West Village, includes a wide range of works that examine the city itself, from its parks to its subways to its alleyways. Meanwhile, the Met celebrates the gift of Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today in an exhibition that features the original mural along with sketches, studies, and related works. Look for Mario Naves’s review of the Benton exhibit in the November issue.  JP

Sir Simon Rattle

Music: The Berlin Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall (Thursday, Sunday & Monday): Sir Simon Rattle brings the storied Berlin Philharmonic to New York for a week, beginning with a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall. Tursday’s concert will reprise the flashy program from Wednesday’s Carnegie Hall opener, pairing Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances with Stravinsky’s Firebird. A full cycle of Schumann’s four completed symphonies will be split between the Sunday and Monday concerts.  ECS

From the archive: The culture of classical music today, by Samuel Lipman, September 1991: On the ongoing crisis of art music.

From our latest issue: Guilt trip: Versailles, avant-garde & kitsch, by Roger Kimball: On the Treaty of Versailles and the revisionist history of John Maynard Keynes.

E-mail to friend

The EU vs. Apple

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 29, 2014 08:05 AM

 London. A story in The Financial Times today reveals that the EU, in its hyper-regulatory wisdom, has set its sights on Apple, which it accuses of profiting from “illegal” deals with Ireland.  I put quotation marks around “illegal” because the case is far from proved. But as far as Brussels is concerned, Apple’s real sin […]

go to PJ Media

The fate of free speech

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 28, 2014 09:15 AM

Yesterday, I came back to London from Winchester, where I was at a conference about “threats to free speech.”  We’ll be publishing edited versions of the papers this winter in The New Criterion. In the meantime, I wanted to underscore the oddity of our topic.  “Threats to free speech”?  Haven’t waged, and won, that battle?  […]

go to PJ Media

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.


Follow us on Twitter:




To contact The New Criterion by email, write to:



Subscribe to our newsletter!

* indicates required


November 04, 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Election Night Party

November 12, 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Book Launch Party with Andrew Roberts

More events >