Adam Kirsch

Reading The Three Weissmanns of Westport, the new novel by Cathleen Schine, is a curious experience. Even as you turn the pages, following the genteel


Against Beauty

One of the running jokes in On Beauty, Zadie Smith’s third novel, is that its main character is philosophically opposed to beauty. Howard Belsey is a professor of art history at Wellington College, and like all middle-aged professors in campus novels, he is a ludicrous figure--unfaithful to his wife, disrespected by his children, and, of course, unable to finish the book he has been talking about for years. In Howard’s case, the book is meant to be a demolition of Rembrandt, whose canvases he sees as key sites for the production of the Western ideology of beauty. “What we’re trying to ...


The Other Secret Jews

In The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks, Marc David Baer has produced the first scholarly study of this group. That i


A Clockwork Doll

The common comparison of Ravikovitch with American poets like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton is not really apt: Ravikovitch writes about herself more ir


Black and White

For Sternhell this is a struggle between darkness and light. As his title suggests, he sees not a “counter” to the Enlightenment but simply an anti-En


With great sadness, we at the The New Republic learned this week of the death of Rachel Wetzsteon, our poetry editor. Rachel only joined TNR a few months ago, and she had just begun to make her mark on the poetry we publish. But we admired her own poems for years: at 42, she was one of the best poets of her generation, distinguished by her natural gift for form, her tough urban romanticism, and her appealing combination of melancholy and wit.


Books of the Year

The Warsaw Ghetto: A Guide to the Perished City, by Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life, by Michael Greenberg Poems 1959-2009, by Frederick Seidel Love and Obstacles, by Aleksandar Hemon The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whitaker Chambers and the Lessons of Anti-Communism, by Michael Kimmage

The Prophet's Pen

A Literary Bible David Rosenberg Counterpoint, $30 The quickest way to understand the audacity and originality of what David Rosenberg is attempting in A Literary Bible, the big book of his selected translations from the Hebrew Bible, is to read the introduction to his excerpt from the book of Jeremiah. To countless generations of Bible readers, Jeremiah has been a prophet—indeed, the Hebrew prophet par excellence, his very name a synonym for warning, chastising, and exhorting.


The Firebrand

Trotsky Robert Service Harvard University Press, $35 When Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City by an agent of Stalin, in 1940, the American novelist James T. Farrell took to the pages of Partisan Review to memorialize him. “The life of Leon Trotsky is one of the great tragic dramas of modern history,” Farrell’s obituary began, and it only gets more idolatrous from there. “Pitting his brain and will against the despotic rulers of a great empire, fully conscious of the power, the resources, the cunning and cruelty of his enemy, Trotsky had one weapon at his command--his ideas.


The November Pogrom

In our collective memory of the Holocaust, Kristallnacht occupies a central but ambiguous place. If you look simply at the statistics, there is little reason why the events of November 9-10, 1938, should loom so large.