EARLY IN Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, the unbearable Mr. Podsnap is shown instructing an “unfortunately born” foreigner. “We Englishmen are very proud of our constitution,” Podsnap observes portentously. “It was bestowed upon us by Providence. No other Country is so favored as this Country.” “And other countries? They do how?” asks the foreigner.
"I AM AWARE," H. R. Haldeman writes, "that I there is a cult of people in this country who collect every scrap of information about Watergate because of its many fascinating mysteries." He's more than aware: his memoir. The Ends of Power, is a seething nest of almost every conceivable scrap of Watergate conspiracy theory developed to date. The Democratic Trap Theory, the CIA Trap Theory, the Blackmail Demand Theory: you name it, H. R. Bob buys it.
Mom always refused to admit we were Irish, though the evidence was pretty overwhelming. Our names, for example: she was a Cruise before she married a Dempsey, or an Ó Diomasaigh (pronunciation: Oh! DEMMA!-shay) as my father sometimes corrected her. His father was Paddy—single-handedly cut the Manchester ship canal, apparently. Had 14 kids. Got a medal from the Pope for services to the poor (though he WAS the poor). Mom disagreed with none of this, except the bit about Paddy being Irish. “Nope,” she said, “Ballinasloe, County Galway? Rubbish.
The only good thing I’ve ever heard about Dr. Joseph Goebbels is that he reportedly banned the publication of “overnight notices” in German newspapers, that is, reviews of operas, plays or concerts written immediately after the performance for the next morning’s paper. Most of of us think clearer after we have slept on it, and my instant response to France vs. England three days ago didn’t give the French their due. It was also, if anything, too generous to England.
Compare the high drama of the Poland-Russia game with the organized tedium of the meeting between France and England. (Never mind the army of Russian nationalists marauding in the streets of Warsaw or the local patriots standing in their way, the police keeping the two groups of drunken patriots apart. That's been done: English fans have patriotically tottered down the streets of the world and clashed with local population and police.) I'm talking about the game in which teams seem to abandon all tactical consideration and attack, as was the case today with the Poles, thereby risking defeat.
Frank Foer: Luke, I'm putting together a Euros blog. Are you in? Luke Dempsey: Couldn’t care less, Frank. FF: The phrase is “could care less,” Mr. Dempsey. LD: Not in England it’s not. FF: You’re not IN England. You haven’t lived there for 17 years. I know for a fact that you missed the whole Jubilee thing . . .
Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. IN THE FIRST PANEL of a Peanuts strip—the preceding ones had been about Lucy scolding her little brother, Linus, for not being a good brother—Lucy asks what Linus is offering her: “What’s this?” “A dish of ice cream.” Then Linus explains: “I brought it to you in order that your stay here on Earth might be more pleasant.” She smiles genially, and uncharacteristically: “Well, thank you ...
ONE YOUNG Englishman was exhilarated by the queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as he had been ten years earlier when the Golden Jubilee had celebrated her first half-century on the throne. Then twelve years old, he had written to his mother: “P.S. Remember the Jubilee,” followed by a series of letters begging to be taken to see the great event. They were signed, “Your loving son Winny.” That Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, in the summer of 1887, had seen European royalty gather in Westminster Abbey, while across the land, bonfires were lit. In A.E.
Patience (After Sebald) Polisse Bonsái If we were to choose the fine modern novelist whose work is least apt for screening, it would probably be W.G. Sebald. His novels are meditative, pensive. If we were to choose the least apt among his works, it would probably be The Rings of Saturn. It has no cogent narrative. Here is a film made from that novel, called Patience (After Sebald), that confirms, though it somewhat buffets, our prejudgment. Grant Gee, the Englishman who made the film, is known for his work on music documentaries, but he was a university student of geography.
Imagine: How Creativity Works By Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 279 pp., $26) THE YEAR IS 1965. Bob Dylan has just completed two weeks of touring in England. He is tired—exhausted actually. He needs a break. There is a tiny cabin in upstate New York where he can stay, where he can get away from it all, where he can find himself. After returning from Europe, he does just that. It’s him and his motorcycle. No more songwriting, no more guitar, no more pressure, no more responsibility. Hell, he might start working on a novel.