Writers should be excused their obsessions, and they should even be pardoned for writing too much about those obsessions. But Tina Brown, the editor of Newsweek, has decided to make her article on “Diana at 50” the cover story of her magazine. The piece ponders what Diana would have been doing with her life had she not died in Paris. It is almost impossible to do justice to the sheer awfulness of this story.
This is no time for gloating, neither for Americans nor for Europeans. For both sides are in deep economic trouble, only in different ways. The U.S. runs the worst deficit (as share of GDP) since World War II, and yet Keynesianism to the max won’t budge the unemployment rate—pace Professors Krugman and Stiglitz. What does fall is the dollar and the price of real estate, a double-whammy if ever there was one. The euro, meanwhile, may be rising, at least against the greenback, but the common currency, now ten years old, is about as stable as was Confederate script back in the Civil War.
‘Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century’: A New Show That Proves Craft Is no Assurance of Quality
June 22, 2011
Walking through “Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century,” at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, I was always conscious of the iron fist beneath the velvet glove. Although this panoramic view of the decorative arts in eighteenth-century France has its share of sleek and seductive surfaces, by the time I left the galleries I felt as if I had been mugged by the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of design shows. The level of craftsmanship is so daunting that it frequently registers as a form of aggression.
The ‘Indignants’: Can They Save the European Left?
June 09, 2011
Last week, the main square of Barcelona was the epicenter of a vital insurgency. On the lawns of the Placa Catalunya, thousands of Europeans—most of them young—orated, ate free food, tried on free used clothing, and took advantage of free child care and yoga classes. An excellent jazz quintet played protest songs for activists and onlookers alike.
June 09, 2011
The Esenyurt District of Istanbul is classic new Turkey: pastel-colored office buildings with plastic-looking facades, rows of high-rise apartment buildings organized into little vertical gated communities, skeletons of shopping malls waiting to be filled with Mango and Starbucks. On a recent May afternoon, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a campaign stop there. The people who gathered to meet him were both covered and loose-haired, lower-middle class and middle class, and they eagerly sandwiched their way through security checkpoints.
Love and Death
June 09, 2011
The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg Edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis, and Annelies Laschitza Translated by George Shriver (Verso, 609 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time there lived a Jewish lady, of modest stature and of a certain age, who walked with a limp and liked to sing to the birds. Through the bars on her window she would treat the titmice to a Mozart aria, and then await their call, the transcription of which she wished, as she wrote to a friend, to be the only adornment on her grave.
David Thomson on Films: ‘Midnight in Paris’
June 01, 2011
Opening in May and reaching out into the early summer, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is an artful and shameless encouragement of going back to Paris. I suppose that’s better than artless and shameful, but, from a director who is aged 75 now, wouldn’t it be nice to feel some age and regret, to say nothing of this being the last time he’ll see Paris with the euro stronger than a two-day old croissant?
May 19, 2011
Illuminations By Arthur Rimbaud Translated by John Ashbery (W.W. Norton, 167 pp., $24.95) I. Arthur Rimbaud wrote the texts known as Illuminations between around 1873 and 1875. In those years he lived in London, and in Paris, and at home with his mother and sisters in northern France, and in Stuttgart. In London, George Eliot was writing Daniel Deronda; in Paris, Henry James was writing Roderick Hudson. The majestic Nineteenth Century was everywhere.
The Horror, The Horror
May 19, 2011
Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa By Jason K. Stearns (PublicAffairs, 380 pp., $28.99) The history of Congo is the history of mass murder. What is going on today—with rebels, government soldiers, and armed groups from neighboring countries raping and slaughtering Congolese civilians—is a continuation of the ruthlessness that has been embedded in this country for more than a hundred years.
May 05, 2011
The Fear of Barbarians By Tzvetan Todorov translated by Andrew Brown (University of Chicago Press, 233 pp., $27.50) Torture and the War on Terror By Tzvetan Todorov translated by Gila Walker (Seagull Books, 68 pp., $8.50) Duties and Delights: The Life of a Go-Between By Tzvetan Todorov translated by Gila Walker (Seagull Books, 412 pp., $39.95) I. According to French intellectual lore, Tzvetan Todorov, upon alighting in France from Bulgaria in 1963 at the age of twenty-four, headed directly for the Sorbonne.