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Wonder Is Critical

I finished teaching a university course in faith and ideas a little while ago by administering individual oral exams to forty first-year students. The exams took place in a hotel bar overlooking a volcanic lake. The pope’s summer palace shone in the distance, and the Mediterranean gleamed . . . . Continue Reading »

Spark’s Chance Grace

Appointment in Arezzo:  A Friendship with Muriel Spark by alan taylor polygon, 244 pages, $18.95 Muriel Spark Centenary Editions by muriel spark polygon, 4,156 pages, £219.78 A Good Comb:  The Sayings of Muriel Spark edited by penelope jardine new directions, 96 pages, $13.95 One . . . . Continue Reading »

Fear Today

More than any other philosopher, Thomas Hobbes highlighted the claim that fear serves as a foundation for establishing the authority of the sovereign ruler. But fear has served not only the cause of political authority. Fear has always played a central role in the evolution of morality and in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Shame Storm

After a lifetime of impeccably correct opinions, Ian Buruma found himself on the wrong side of the liberal consensus in September 2018, when he was forced to resign as editor of the New York Review of Books for having commissioned a piece called “Reflections from a Hashtag” from the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Winter of Love

No one who welcomed the sixties as a liberation can understand what it has been like to grow up in their wake. Authorities mouth the rhetoric of revolution, shocking slogans have become clichés, and the anthems of Woodstock and Altamont sell sedans to aging Baby Boomers. A banner at the Paris . . . . Continue Reading »

Briefly Noted

The Best American Poetry 2018  edited by dana gioia scribner, 240 pages, $18.99 American poetry lost three greats last year: John ­Ashbery, ­Richard Wilbur, and ­Donald Hall. But it also welcomed A. R. ­Ammons’s “Finishing Up,” A. E. ­Stallings’s “Pencil,” and Anne . . . . Continue Reading »

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