Voltaire

The Oldest Dead White European Males
May 25, 1992

I. The species known as DWEM, which has only recently been isolated and identified, is already the focus of intense controversy. As usually happens to newly discovered species, it is even being broken down into subspecies; I am informed that a professor at a local university has recently offered a course in DWAM, that is, in Dead White American Males, with readings presumably in such writers as Thoreau, Emerson, and Mark Twain. I propose to discuss only the European type, and, in particular, its first appearance on the face of the planet. My specimens are certainly dead. In fact, they have bee

The Humanist Phantom
July 25, 1981

I should not have any inclination to call myself a humanist, as I think, on the whole, that the non-human part of the cosmos is much more interesting and satisfactory than the human part. —Bertrand Russell Most of us have only a vague idea what humanism is. We tend to think of a humanist as someone who is concerned with other humans, a humanitarian, an all-around nice guy. For example, that’s how Deborah Weisner of Auburn, Maine, sees it. For five days last March she was held hostage on a Pakistani jetliner by armed hijackers.

Slouching Towards America
October 02, 1976

The hero sails to far exotic shores, returns in triumph with a princess and a prize. This is the archetypal European Quest whose classic formulation is the Myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The theme has minor variations—as when the fleece becomes a Holy Grail—but the center remains: despite the setbacks and the losses he may suffer on the way, the hero brings his treasure-laden Argo back to port. The quest succeeds. Thus when the Renaissance explorers left to seek great riches in the lands beyond horizons on the west, their ultimate success seemed foreordained.

The Twin Pillars
July 07, 1926

Pushkin, by Prince D. S. Mirsky. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company. 266 pages. $2.50. Gogol, by Janko Lavrin. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company. 263 pages. $2.50. The Republic of Letters series, under the editorship of Dr. William Rose, was recently inaugurated with Mr. Aldington’s admirable study of the life and genius of Voltaire.

A Lyrical Biography
July 07, 1926

Joan of Arc, by Joseph Delteil. Translated from the French by Malcolm Cowley. New York: Minton, Batch and Company. 268 pages. $3. There are many kinds of biography in these days of its vogue: one might almost say that Joan of Arc has been subjected to them all. There is the factual volume of Michelet from whose “excellent formula there is lacking the obscure part of God”; there is the sturdy attack of Anatole France and the glowing defense of Andrew Lang. There is Mark Twain’s imaginative romance based on twelve years’ accumulation of facts; there is Mr.

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