Books and Arts

The Founder
February 14, 2005

Nehru: A Political Life By Judith M.

Two Prisoners
February 14, 2005

Monsieur N (Empire) The Woodsman (Newmarket)  When the stars fade, when the cosmos darkens, there will still be one spot of light on planet Earth. That light will be a film studio where they are shooting another picture about Napoleon. Napoleon's effect on the world's publishing industry is unnerving: the number of books about him is beyond fantasy. His effect on the film world is certainly not comparable; still it looms. This country made nine films about him before sound arrived; since then he has been played by Charles Boyer and Marlon Brando. Just two years ago Britain sent us The Emperor'

Midnight Oil
February 06, 2005


On Feeling the Misery of Strangers
February 04, 2005

The other day, as I was walking to the grocery store, I strategically moved toward the far edge of the sidewalk to put distance between myself and a pile of large, black trash bags haphazardly stacked against the side of a building. This sight is common in downtown Manhattan, as was the rustling I heard among the bags, which nevertheless made me start. Rats or mice, I thought, as I instinctively crossed the street to avoid them, but it was still light out, too early, it seemed to me, for these nocturnal creatures to be rummaging for food.

On the Modern Taste for Cast Iron
January 21, 2005

Walking down the streets of Soho these days, one rarely sees the light of day or feels the warmth of the sun, which is no small thing now that the low, yet constant, light of autumn has given way to the even lower and more fleeting light of winter. The cause of this unnatural darkness is scaffolding. On some streets in my neighborhood, so many buildings are being restored that the scaffolding forms a continuous overhang--a sort of ugly, makeshift arcade--stretching almost an entire block.

What Stuff!
January 17, 2005

by Christine Stansell

On Not Seeing What Appears in Photographs
January 07, 2005

Opening the pages of The New York Times these days, one is often greeted with pictures of chaotic, smoke-filled scenes of injury and death not only of soldiers but of ordinary Iraqi men, women, and children--the grisly work of car bombs and suicide bombers.

The Rehnquist Revolution
December 27, 2004

A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law By Mark Tushnet (W.W. Norton, 384 pp., $27.95) Learned Hand, an influential federal judge from New York, used to be famous for saying, in the middle of World War II, that "the spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right." Hand practiced what he preached. A leading apostle of judicial restraint, Hand was reluctant to strike down the decisions of state and federal governments.

Matter of Taste
December 10, 2004

"Raphael: From Urbino to Rome" is now on exhibition at the National Gallery in London. It is a show I truly long to see not only because there are so few Raphaels in America that it is difficult to experience firsthand the oft-described transcendent force of "the immortal Raphael," as Vasari called him, but also because for a number of years now I have been working on a book in which the place of Raphael in the aesthetic imagination has become a central concern of my story.

On the Lifespan of Trees
December 03, 2004

For a long time now, whenever I've gone to Los Angeles, I've been alarmed by how impossibly tall the palm trees have grown. Whether I'm driving in Santa Monica or Venice, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, or Pasadena, the familiar sight of row after row of palm trees, their thin, fibrous trunks topped by rough-hewn, yet shimmering fronds stretching hundreds of feet into the broad, shadowless light, has come to fill me with gloom.