The Lost Modernist

David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poetby thomas dilworthcounterpoint, 432 pages, $39.50 The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragmentsby david jonesfaber & faber, 112 pages, £15.99 Epoch and Artistby david jonesfaber & faber, 320 pages, £17.99 The Dying Gaul and Other Writingsby david jonesfaber & . . . . Continue Reading »

McAuley Beyond Despair

James McAuley had a gift for overcoming first impressions. Manning Clark, the future ­doyen of Australian historians, met the twenty-five-year-old poet in the crowd at an Aussie Rules game. McAuley was blind drunk, full of wild slogans about art and politics, and looked wrecked even by the usual . . . . Continue Reading »

How Much Dreiser Does a Man Need?

Theodore Dreiser is ranked among our great authors; he was a syllabus mainstay for as polished a master as Saul Bellow. Yet he is neither among the great English-language prose stylists nor a writer of nuanced or profound moral vision. His idea of human life was crudely mechanical and deterministic. . . . . Continue Reading »

Big Mullah

2084: The End of the World by boualem sansal translated by alison anderson europa editions, 240 pages, $17 Sleep soundly, good people, everything is sheer falsehood, and the rest is under control.” So begins Boualem Sansal’s new novel, 2084. The author, an Algerian secularist, has . . . . Continue Reading »

To Imagine Excellence

Let Us Watch Richard Wilbur:A Biographical Studyby robert bagg and mary bagguniversity of massachusetts, 392 pages, $32.95 Richard Wilbur died peacefully, surrounded by family, on October 14. Though he had a full life, he did not receive the Nobel Prize or the biography that he deserved. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Florentine Pietà

In the late 1540s, an aging Michelangelo embarked on what he intended to be his culminating sculptural work, commonly known as the Florentine Pietà. Still heavily tasked with official commissions—foremost among them the rebuilding of St. Peter’s—and sometimes incapacitated by . . . . Continue Reading »

Talking to Heraclitus

“Life has the name of life but in reality it is death,” writes Heraclitus. No Bronx boy, even one who has celebrated his eighty-fourth birthday, has enough chutzpah to argue with that. Yet having survived to so ripe an age, I find that when it comes to death, I prefer a more American voice, . . . . Continue Reading »

Rare and Common Sense

Simon Leys:  Navigator Between Worlds by philippe paquet translated by julie rose la trobe, 720 pages, $59.99 It is a curious fact that Communist dictatorships were at their most popular among Western intellectuals while they still had the courage of their brutality. Once they settled down to . . . . Continue Reading »

Thus Saith the Lord

One Sunday in high school, we went to the Anglo-Catholic parish where my headmaster served as an assistant priest. Catechized by evangelical Episcopalians and Presbyterians, I believed that the Bible was divinely inspired by God. But I had never seen it treated as such in a physical or ritual way. . . . . Continue Reading »

Waugh on the Merits

Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisitedby philip eadehenry holt, 432 pages, $32 Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh was born in 1903 to upper-middle-class Anglicans who lived in a suburb of London. He attended a boarding secondary school (Lancing College), read history at Oxford, published his first book (a . . . . Continue Reading »