British Isles

Highland Games
June 23, 2012

IN APRIL 1945, there was a parliamentary by-election in Motherwell, a steel town east of Glasgow and a seemingly safe Labour seat. Since the day almost five years earlier when Winston Churchill formed the great all-party government that waged and won the war, there had been a “party truce.” Special elections had been uncontested among the coalition partners (Tory, Labour, and Liberals), though that didn’t stop independents or downright cranks from running—and sometimes winning.

Yes, Obama's Election Campaign is Affecting His Syria Policy. No, That's Not a Bad Thing.
June 15, 2012

It’s clear that the conflict in Syria is now an issue in the American presidential campaign, largely at the insistence of Mitt Romney’s Republican supporters. Most notable among the interjections was an emotional speech recently delivered on the Senate floor by Senator John McCain, in which he demanded to know why the White House was abetting Bashar al Assad’s murdering of innocents. There is, of course, much to quibble with in this characterization: Far from doing nothing to oppose Bashar, the Obama administration has supported the U.N.

Dearest Bun
June 23, 2011

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica Edited by Anthony Thwaite (Faber & Faber, 475 pp., $49.50) I. A good place to start on the protagonists of this curious correspondence—culled from some 1,400 letters discovered after the addressee’s death in 2001—is the wrap-around photograph that takes up most of both sides of the book’s dust jacket. The picture shows a grassy cliff-top on the island of Sark. It is, clearly, summer.

Dearest Bun
June 23, 2011

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica Edited by Anthony Thwaite (Faber & Faber, 475 pp., $49.50) I. A good place to start on the protagonists of this curious correspondence—culled from some 1,400 letters discovered after the addressee’s death in 2001—is the wrap-around photograph that takes up most of both sides of the book’s dust jacket. The picture shows a grassy cliff-top on the island of Sark. It is, clearly, summer.

The PICTURE: Charm School
May 26, 2010

Let’s hear it for charm, an underappreciated quality in the visual arts. If austerity is one of the modern artist’s essential tools, charm also has a distinctive power, although one that’s hardly welcomed by the curators, historians, and critics who shape opinion about modern and contemporary art. Artists risk being overlooked when they emphasize elegant wit, gentle seduction, or beguiling intelligence; they are dismissed as sentimentalists, without the sharp elbows needed to operate effectively in our world.

The Varieties of Artistic Experience
October 30, 2006

The Language of Forms: Lectures on Insular Manuscript Art By Meyer Schapiro (Pierpont Morgan Library) Romanesque Architectural Sculpture By Meyer Schapiro (University of Chicago Press) I. When Meyer Schapiro died ten years ago, at the age of ninety-one, he had a place in American intellectual life that was extraordinarily large and also rather mysterious. Quite a few of the people who mentioned his name with a quickening excitement, a catch in their voices, had probably not read a single one of the exacting essays about medieval art on which his scholarly reputation rested.

Beautiful as He Did It
December 20, 2004

ELECTED FRIENDS: ROBERT FROST AND EDWARD THOMAS TO ONE ANOTHER Edited and with an introduction by Matthew Spencer (Handsel Books, 216 pp., $24) I. I. For two poets, two facial expressions. One is simple enough: the blankness with which I, as a graduate student, and every one of the thousand or so graduate students I have taught, first received the words "Edward Thomas." Since this is wrong, and dismaying, I try to have some fun with it.

Vision Quest
July 01, 2002

How the Eurovision Song Contest unified Europe.

The Closing Door
December 26, 1993

Nathan Glazer: Can we restrict immigration?

The Winds of Windsorism
December 11, 1989

Prince Charles's war against Modern architecture.

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