This week: Eliot corrected, Roz Chast cartoons, “Messiah” at Saint Thomas & more from the world of culture.
The Poems of T. S. Eliot, Volumes I & II, edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): “Let us go then, you and I . . . ” to the authoritative edition of T. S. Eliot’s works, now in a two-volume paperback collection that brings Eliot to a wider audience. Christopher Ricks’s and Jim McCue’s edition corrects errors that cropped up in the century since he began to redraw the map of modern poetry. From the modernist anxiety-channeling “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” to the bleak and oracular “The Waste Land” in the early 1920s, to the World War II–era “Four Quartets,” and beyond, Eliot shaped the way his readers saw the twentieth century, both historically and, as he turned toward religious concerns later in life, spiritually. The hardback versions of these volumes, released in 2015, offered both a correction and an expansion of the poet’s known oeuvre, bringing together recently discovered early poetry, mature verse dramas, the delightful nonsense verse of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, late love letters to his wife, and more. Shall you part your hair behind? Do you dare to eat a peach? It’s time, this Christmas season, to roll up your trousers and ask the important questions with this essential poet. —HN
“The Masters Series: Roz Chast,” at SVA Chelsea Gallery (through December 15): Roz Chast should be the cartoonist laureate of New York. Certainly, she has become the laureled cartoonist of The New Yorker magazine, where she has supplied neurotic laughs since 1978. Now through December 15, her quirky vision is on full display in “The Masters Series: Roz Chast.” This comprehensive retrospective exhibition at the SVA Chelsea Gallery includes her magazine work, selections from her twenty-some books, a hand-drawn mural, and notebooks, embroideries, and hand-dyed pysanky (Ukrainian-style Easter eggs). —JP
“Handel’s Messiah,” at the Church of Saint Thomas (December 4 & 6) and “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (December 6 through 8): December has begun, and with it the ringing-in of the Christmas concert season. Saint Thomas Church’s annual Messiah performances are a time-honored tradition: the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys joins New York Baroque Incorporated, an orchestra of period instruments, for the oratorio voted most likely to leave concertgoers singing “Hallelujah” all the way down Fifth Avenue. And later this week, On Site Opera presents the classic one-act operetta Amahl and the Night Visitors, the story of a poor, disabled boy who meets the Magi on their way to the manger, with miraculous results. The performance at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on Ninth Avenue is free, with a suggested donation of non-perishable food items. —HN
“The Ancient World in the Modern City,” at the Gotham Center for New York City History (December 4): From its earliest days, New York’s architecture has been imbued with classical elements. And though today’s city might seem a maze of astylar glass and steel, the classical world still breaks through in unexpected places, like on the top of Philip Johnson’s 1984 AT&T building, where a broken pediment caps the tower. Tomorrow the editors of Classical New York: Discovering Greece and Rome in Gotham will join Molly Heintz, the editor of Oculus, the quarterly of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter, to discuss their new book on the persistence of classicism in New York at the CUNY Graduate Center. —BR
From the archive: “December in Florida,” by Robley Wilson (September 2000).
From the current issue:“The family business,” by Dominic Green. On “Mantegna and Bellini” at the National Gallery in London.