A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster By Wendy Moffat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 404 pp., $32.50) Concerning E.M. Forster By Frank Kermode (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 180 pp., $24) Whenever E.M. Forster is discussed, the phrase “only connect” is sure to come up sooner or later. The epigraph to Howards End, the book he described with typical modesty as “my best novel and approaching a good novel,” seems to capture the leading idea of all his work—the moral importance of connection between individuals, across the barriers of race, class, and nation.
Everything said and done around the World Cup in the last month has seemed right and wrong, spot on and deluded—and often simultaneously. First it was the “African Cup.” The dream was ephemeral, save perhaps for Ghana. Then there was talk about a “new Europe”: forget aging Italy, England, and France, here came the vibrant sons of a united Germany. (Though, it must be said, less and less of them are actually German). Almost as soon as it started, however, it became the “Latin American Cup.” European tactical conservatism seemed doomed against the Latin love for the game.
Paul Berman, who writes regularly and provocatively for us, published on Saturday in the Wall Street Journal another one of his disturbing epistles about Muslims and Fascism, Jews and Liberalism, truth and falsehood that have made him perhaps the most disturbing of contemporary intellectuals. And certainly the most disturbing American intellectual in a circle that includes Bernard-Henri Levy, Pascal Bruckner, Alain Finkielkraut, all French.
Lucky for us, the Earth's not going to stop spinning anytime soon. So cross that off the list of apocalypses we need to fret about (though I've got a long list handy if anyone needs a few). But what if it did stop spinning? Witold Fraczek of ESRI decided to model what the planet would look like in the absence of all that centrifugal force. The Earth's gravity would shift and the oceans would rush up to the poles. No more Canada, Europe, or Russia: Well, that and our days and nights would be all screwed up...
Check out Robert Satloff’s analysis of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s meeting with President Obama: The Obama-Netanyahu Meeting: Assessment and Implications By Robert Satloff July 8, 2010 With smiles, compliments, and a strong dose of hospitality, President Obama did his best to provide a dramatically improved backdrop for U.S.-Israeli relations during Binyamin Netanyahu's July 6 visit to the White House, compared to the climate that greeted the Israeli prime minister upon his strained April visit.
The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (Knopf, 384 pp., $26.95) Well, another civil, subtle, well-modulated novel from Martin Amis. Wait—what? British fiction’s most flamboyant word-wrangler, subtle? The celebrated character-bully and reader-molester, civil? The epicure of extremism, wellmodulated? Yes, apparently. This is a new Amis, similar in theme but different in subject as well as style. An Oxford-educated scion of the literary intelligentsia, Amis has made a career of not writing about his own milieu.
The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (Knopf, 384 pp., $26.95) Well, another civil, subtle, well-modulated novel from Martin Amis. Wait—what? British fiction’s most flamboyant word-wrangler, subtle? The celebrated character-bully and reader-molester, civil? The epicure of extremism, well-modulated? Yes, apparently. This is a new Amis, similar in theme but different in subject as well as style. An Oxford-educated scion of the literary intelligentsia, Amis has made a career of not writing about his own milieu.
“But I think we can take it there won’t be any air raids, not on London at any rate,” Sir Joseph Mainwaring says confidently on the day the Second World War, and Put Out More Flags, both begin. “The Germans will never attempt the Maginot line. The French will hold on for ever, if needs be ...” For the rest of Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Sir Joseph's taste for of lofty predictions—“But there is one thing of which I am certain. Russia will come in against us before the end of the year.
With the group stages over, the sextodecimal matches played, and the quarterfinals about to begin, what kind of a World Cup has it been so far? It has been good for South Africa, with large, happy crowds and none of the violence that pessimists predicted, altogether nothing worse than the horrible vuvuzela. The home nation were eliminated, but not before a glorious victory over France, who scuttled home in disgrace, as did the Italians, and then the English. No, it hasn’t been a good year for Europe, even with Germany, Spain and Holland in the last eight.
To anticipate Argentina versus Germany or Brazil versus Holland is to again hear World Cup history whisper ever more urgently as the tournament approaches its conclusion. The coaches and players will insist that such talk is nonsense; a distraction. The game must be won on the pitch in South Africa. Eleven against eleven. The future scripts are yet to be written. What's past is irrelevant.