Venice

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Kinds of Class
August 02, 2012

Unforgivable Last Ride ANDRÈ TÈCHINÈ , THE FRENCH director known for his deft probing of dark human recesses, has come up with a sparkler Unforgivable, which sets out as an account of unusuallives, finishes as a portrait of a society—one that lives between the conventional and the openly low. It accomplishes all this while it amuses and moves us. The screenplay, by Téchiné and Mehdi Ben Attia, from a novel by Philippe Djian, changed the novel’s setting on the French coast to Venice.

Voluminous
February 22, 2012

The oldest book in my library was published in 1538. It is Sefer Hasidim, or The Book of the Pious, the first edition, from Bologna, of the vast trove of precepts and stories, at once severe and wild, of the Jewish pietists of Germany in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Next to it, and towering over it, which is as it should be, stands Moreh Nevuchim, or The Guide of the Perplexed, the handsome Bragadin edition from Venice in 1551.

The Invention of Space
December 14, 2011

Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science By Hans Belting Translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider (Belknap Press, 303 pp., $39.95) In many respects this is a bold book, first of all because of its premise: a veteran art historian dares, after half a century as an active scholar, to take another look at a classic art-historical problem—the formulation of linear perspective in fifteenth-century Florence.

The Everyday Enchantment of Music
September 14, 2011

  A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble.

What Do Men Want?
September 13, 2011

“Daddy, why is it that guys look into their Kleenex after they sneeze and girls don’t?” Because, I explained to my precocious daughter (she was then 8 or 9), men consider it an accomplishment. Be glad we don’t display it to others, or put it under glass at the Venice Bienniale. It’s the sort of thing my late wife would have said, and since she’s not here I feel obliged to keep up both ends of the male-female dialectic. Or maybe I just need a testosterone refill.

What Remains
July 28, 2011

Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe By Charles Freeman (Yale University Press, 306 pp., $35) Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe By Caroline Walker Bynum (Zone Books, 408 pp., $32.95)  Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe Edited by Martina Bagnoli, Holger A. Klein, Griffith Mann, and James Robinson (Yale University Press, 259 pp., $65) Throughout much of history, at the heart of every village, town, and city in Europe, there lay a dead body.

Facebook Visigoths
November 30, 2010

How, I asked my husband as much in disbelief as in indignation, do the guards at the Louvre allow this? I wasn't referring to the hordes of chattering tourists of all description who, when they visit the museum, apparently think it is a good idea to press and elbow and jostle against one another in order to get into position to snap a picture—blinding flashes from every direction—of the long-suffering, overexposed Mona Lisa.

The Fortunate Journey
September 13, 2010

The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance By Henry Kamen (Yale University Press, 291 pp., $35) The historian Henry Kamen has spent a distinguished career presenting what he calls a “revisionist” history of early modern Spain.

The Living Lie
September 11, 2010

Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England By Anthony Julius (Oxford University Press, 811 pp., $45) I. Anthony Julius begins his magisterial and definitive history of a thousand years of anti-Semitism in England with an anecdote from his childhood. He is riding on a train to the English Midlands with his father, who is in conversation with “Arthur,” a non-Jewish business associate. Arthur, keen to ingratiate himself with his companion, remarks that his daughter recently had a little Jewish girl over to their house for tea.

The Living Lie
September 10, 2010

Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England By Anthony Julius (Oxford University Press, 811 pp., $45) I. Anthony Julius begins his magisterial and definitive history of a thousand years of anti-Semitism in England with an anecdote from his childhood. He is riding on a train to the English Midlands with his father, who is in conversation with “Arthur,” a non-Jewish business associate. Arthur, keen to ingratiate himself with his companion, remarks that his daughter recently had a little Jewish girl over to their house for tea.

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