Editor’s note: The following remarks were delivered at The New Criterion’s gala on April 23, 2014 honoring Professor Kagan with the second Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society. They were concluded by a brief question-and-answer section, excerpts of which are included here.

It has been common in my lifetime to be informed and reminded of the special, autonomous place of artists and art, and especially of literature, apart from and above politics. Its power comes from its ability to choose its own subject, style, and purpose. Literature that is shaped merely by its author’s time and his place within his society, by their prejudices and purposes, is said to be a poor and weak thing that deserves the social...

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