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 »

Tate Unmodern

Allen Tate: The Modern Mind and the Discovery of Enduring Loveby john v. glass iiithe catholic university of america, 376 pages, $59.95 I well remember sitting up half the night annotating Allen Tate’s “Ode to the Confederate Dead” in my Norton anthology. As do I remember reading for the first . . . . Continue Reading »

Burns in Glory

The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns, Volume I: Commonplace Books, Tour Journals, and Miscellaneous Proseedited by nigel n. leaskoxford, 512 pages, $200 Robert Burns, “Rabbie” to those who love him, sired thirty-six children with eighteen mistresses before dying of exhaustion at age . . . . Continue Reading »

Caribbean Rhapsode

The great poet of the Caribbean, Derek Walcott, passed away at home on his native island of St. Lucia on March 17. It is hard to summarize his achievement. He wrote more than twenty books of poetry, most notably Omeros (1990), which transplants the Trojan War to the Caribbean fishing world . . . . Continue Reading »