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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 »

Pagan Horror

Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reichby eric kurlanderyale, 448 pages, $35 That Hitler and his inner circle were mad is not a matter of controversy. The source and character of their madness, though, is subject to debate. Eric Kurlander wants us to understand Nazi ideology . . . . Continue Reading »

Chatterley on Trial

Lady Chatterley’s Loverby d. h. lawrencemacmillan, 432 pages, $12.99 Six weeks after a London criminal court permitted the unexpurgated publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover on November 2, 1960, a forlorn rearguard action took place in the crimson and gold chamber of the House of Lords, then . . . . 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 »

Saint and Scribe

Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul IIby george weigelbasic, 368 pages, $32 Czesław Miłosz once said that, in terms of moral grandeur and personal presence, St. John Paul II could have been one of Shakespeare’s kings. No less a judge than Joseph Ratzinger noted that it was . . . . Continue Reading »

Non Possumus

Kidnapped by the Vatican? The Unpublished Memoirs of Edgardo Mortaraby vittorio messoriignatius, 190 pages, $17.95 At nightfall on Wednesday, June 23, 1858, a knock came on the door of Salomone and Marianna Mortara, Jewish residents of Bologna. Only the wife was at home with the children. It . . . . Continue Reading »

The First Sexual Revolution

Epictetus was the sort of figure that only the Roman Empire could have produced. He was born in the Phrygian hills of Anatolia in the middle of the first century. Enslaved and brought to the capital, he served in the household of the freedman Epaphroditos. Epaphroditos, in turn, was in the direct . . . . Continue Reading »

Padre Mestizo

On September 11, 2017, between midnight and dawn, a statue of Fr. Junípero Serra—whom generations of California schoolchildren called “the Father of California”—was beheaded at Mission Santa Barbara. Reading about the defiled statue in the paper, I immediately question my father, my . . . . Continue Reading »

Historical Ignorance, Moral Arrogance

My generation tends to think of itself as the first generation to be moral, tolerant, decent, and good. We abhor racism, sexism, nationalism, and homophobia, crimes we set at the center of past societies—all of them. We have avoided the bloody vices of slavery, torture, pillaging, religious . . . . Continue Reading »

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