muse

Five cartoons from the most recent issues of The New Republic

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Bob Forehead

It seems an historical accident that The Washington Post op-ed page—home to George F. Will, where Henry Kissinger comes to muse—gave birth to one of the great underground comics. But the legendary curator of that page, Meg Greenfield, had a rare (for an editorialist) streak of adventure that occasionally pointed her in the opposite direction of bow-tied bloviating.

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The trouble with the new Selznick version of A Farewell to Arms which stars Rock Hudson as the ambulance driver, Frederick Henry, and Jennifer Jones as the nurse, Catherine Barkley, is that to be the least bit convincing or moving it demands that the viewer help along considerably by recollecting the novel—that he fill out the action, give emotional significance to the landscapes, add dimension to the characters. Otherwise it is a spiritless, silly, and, I fear, embarrassing movie.

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Last week Ezra Klein closed up Journolist, an email exchange for liberal pundits, academics and think-talk types, along with some straight reporters who wanted to keep tabs on what we were thinking. There's always a fascination with things that are kept secret. If the identity of Deep Throat was revealed in 1974, within a few years nobody but Watergate junkies would have remembered his name.

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  I won't argue with Plato—where did quibbling get Adeimantus?—so I'll go along with the proposition that imitation qualifies as art of a kind. On that principle, what Renee Fleming has done on her attention-grabbing new recording, Dark Hope—her first rock album—deserves nothing but the kind of praise that Fleming's usual work as a lyric soprano is typically and justly accorded. She has earned her reputation in classical music, and, with Dark Hope she has earned lots of money.

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Slate's John Dickerson compares the Obama White House's silence on whether it offered Joe Sestak a job to the Bush administration's silence on the Plame allegation: The questions about what Sestak was offered have been nagging for months. They were renewed after he defeated Specter. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has responded as he did months ago.

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Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell Edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 845 pp., $40) '"Your poem came to the right buyer," Robert Lowell wrote to Elizabeth Bishop during the spring of 1976 after receiving "One Art," the nineteen lines that Bishop called "the one & only villanelle of my life." Composed in a tightly repetitive form inherited from the troubadours of the late Renaissance, "One Art" may be the best known, most anthologized American poem of the past half-century.

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Menérbes

The pigeons here purr. They don't coo--coo like an infant coos, or cries, before it learns its words, or its way in the world--a string of whys and whos: the inquisitive mind, so often confused--which is what I was, by the birds' odd sounds--sorrowful, echoing off the rocks behind my room. But actually, it makes sense, considering how close they roost to that woman's house--the great artist's muse, the weeping woman, her portraits rendered so vividly by the one who loved and abused her. The other morning, I came home and found a bird trapped in the house--a window left open.

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Page Turner

It’s the afternoon of December 19, 1998, the day the House will impeach Bill Clinton, and one Republican representative can’t bring himself to vote. Not, as you might expect, because he’s torn between his partisan passions and constitutional principle—the representative has just delivered a screed pronouncing the president’s offenses impeachable. But because he literally can’t vote.

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