When Reinhold Niebuhr died in June 1971, the New York Times obituary described him as “a theologian who preached in the marketplace, a philosopher of ethics who applied his belief to everyday moral predicaments, and a political liberal who subscribed to a hard-boiled pragmatism.” That apt summary sufficiently explains why Niebuhr mattered to his time. What it doesn’t explain is why Niebuhr matters to ours. After all, in the 1980s and ’90s, Niebuhr was seldom referenced in political debates.Read more
History’s greatest novelist has not received the definitive scholarly biography he deserves. Why not? I put this question to Joseph Frank of Stanford, the author of a celebrated five-volume biography of Dostoyevsky, but even Frank admits he has “no simple answer” to the question. Perhaps, he suggests, the mass of material on Leo Tolstoy has been too formidable for any lone author to attempt to summarize.Read more
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