Henry James called him a "fatuous cad," but we all know he was just jealous.
The Mystic Smile
July 22, 2002
Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of a Global Icon by Donald Sassoon (Harcourt, 337 pp., $30) One of the most extraordinary but least remarked upon features of paintings and sculptures is their persistence as actual, physical objects from other times and places.
Millions of Strange Shadows
November 16, 1997
The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets By Helen Vendler (Harvard University Press, 672 pp., $35) In 1978, when Stephen Booth published an edition of Shakespeare's sonnets—his dual purpose was to help the lay reader and to satisfy the expert—he made certain observations on the nature of his task. The common reader, he argued, simply isn't bothered by passages that stretch the understanding of the expert. Sometimes "a reader will see the speaker's point without understanding (or knowing that he has not understood and cannot in any usual sense understand) the sentence that makes the point." Booth is an