A Responding Sensibility
March 03, 2010
Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks Edited by Daniel Esterman (Getty Research Institute, 243 pp., $39.95) I. Meyer Schapiro Abroad is an astonishing book. It consists of seemingly commonplace materials--the love letters that a graduate student wrote while traveling to work on his dissertation, plus a selection of sheets from his research notebooks. Yet taken together these pages present something extraordinary and nearly unique: an intensely evocative account of the process and the experience of historical discovery.
March 03, 2010
The details of his story aren’t the point, nor is the listener, who looked as bored as we, two accidental eavesdroppers in a London restaurant. The point is, well, his point, which after ten long minutes he came to abruptly, and with a flourish, saying slowly and in perfect seriousness, “All we are is dust in the wind. All we are. Is dust.
Controversy in Paris Makes Regionalism Newsworthy
February 26, 2010
If you live in a city or suburb, chances are your regional government has tried to get your attention. Did you notice? Many of the issues your regional government is grappling with are actually important to you: the quality of the air you breathe, the quality of public transportation, the availability of green open space, and more. As important as these issues are, I can almost guarantee that planners from your region have had to work extra hard to convince the press -- not to mention the citizens that live and work there -- to pay attention.
The Mousavi Mission
February 17, 2010
Traditional Iranian husbands, the sort found in the highest ranks of the Islamic Republic, sometimes refer to their wives as “the house.” For them, this is not just an expression of their understanding of gender relations. It is viewed as a necessary euphemism, vital protection for a woman’s honor. The mere uttering of her name, after all, might compromise her chastity. It is telling, therefore, that Mir Hossein Mousavi courted and eventually married Zahra Rahnavard.
Live-Blogging the Iranian Protests
February 10, 2010
The New Republic is live-blogging news of events in Iran today, on the eve of 22 Bahman (February 11), the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution. The Iranian opposition movement is slated to co-opt the state's annual rallies to stage another mass demonstration--the largest since December's violent protests on the Shiite holy day of Ashura. February 11, 2010, 6:41 pm.
The Furrows of Algeria
January 27, 2010
The German Mujahid By Boualem Sansal Translated by Frank Wynne (Europa Editions, 240 pp., $15) I. From the terrible Algerian slaughter, and its terrible silence, comes this small tale, told by an officer of the special forces who broke with “Le Pouvoir” of his own country and sought asylum in France. It is the autumn of 1994, deep into the season of killing. An old and simple Algerian woman, accompanied by two of her children, comes to the army barracks, to the very building where the torturers did their grim work, in search of her husband and her son.
The Hunger Artists
January 18, 2010
Dancing In the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression By Morris Dickstein (W.W. Norton, 598 pp., $29.95) Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits By Linda Gordon (W.W. Norton, 536 pp., $35) American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty In U.S. Literature, 1840-1945 By Gavin Jones (Princeton University Press, 248 pp., $38.50) “Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a story of 1926, at the height of the economic boom and his own creative powers.
January 09, 2010
The Invention of the Jewish People By Shlomo Sand Translated by Yael Lotan (Verso, 400 pp., $34.95) By the books an age reads and respects ye shall know it.
The State of the Opposition is Strong
January 08, 2010
A couple of days after June’s stolen election in Iran, Flynt Leverett and I were both guests on “The Charlie Rose Show.” Mr. Leverett was waxing eloquent about how Ahmadinejad could have actually won the election. His supposed evidence was a May poll, conducted by phone from Turkey, before the presidential campaign had even begun. Apparently he did not read the entire report of the poll, merely a summary, published in a Washington Post editorial. Much of the full report contradicted his conclusions.
L.L. Zamenhof and the Shadow People
December 30, 2009
Starting at midnight on December 15, 2009, the Google logo was draped in a green flag. Perhaps you thought it was the Palestinian or the Saudi flag; perhaps this unsettled you enough to mouse it. If you did, you’d have learned that the flag celebrated the one hundred and fiftieth birthday of Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, the founder of Esperanto. And if you clicked on it, you’d have helped make “L.L. Zamenhof” the third most often-searched term on Google that day. None of this was happenstance.