Saul Bellow died in 2005, a few years after he was accorded full biographical treatment by the critic James Atlas. In 700 pages, Atlas provided a crisply written, fair-minded account of the novelist and fellow Chicagoan up through the publication of his final book, Ravelstein (2000). With some notable exceptions (Richard Poirier and James Wood), the biography was well received.
The most famous improvised lines in the history of the movies are the ones Orson Welles came up with while playing Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949): “In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
A middle-aged company man on a business trip in 1970s England gets lost miles from the nearest town and, running out of gas near nightfall, takes refuge at a hostel, where things go from weird to worse.
Over the last few years, the gay marriage movement has transformed from "equality for all" to "bake me a cake." As it picks up steam, the movement looks more and more totalitarian, both at home and abroad.
With so many Republican candidates announcing their bids for the presidency these days, one our most hallowed election-year rituals can’t be far behind. I refer, of course, to when fading musical acts attempt to prove their progressive bona fides by making a stink when a candidate they disagree with plays their music at a rally.
The speed with which the transgender agenda is moving may end up making the same-sex marriage debate look slow and deliberative by comparison. And now Scholastic, the children's publisher that specializes in distributing and selling books through schools, is poised to bring the issue to a middle school classroom near you. The medium is George, the story of an eight year old boy named George who desperately wants to be considered a girl.
At last, a little good news from the academy. Oberlin College has a sense of humor -- or at least its choir does. I don’t know that the subversive (by Oberlin standards!) song they've perormed has a title, but it might well be “Please Don’t Put Me In the Real World.”
Warning against the threat from China has been a staple of national security literature since at least the late 1990s. This genre typically begins by compiling a list of the most alarming statistics related to China’s economic potential, military advancements, and global misdeeds—environmental degradation, cyberattacks, support for rogue regimes, and human rights abuses, to name a few—before informing readers that the United States must act now before it is too late.
They’re outraged, the students at Columbia University—outraged that their professors would dare to put Ovid on mandatory reading lists, outraged that the ancient Roman author doesn’t share their sensitivities, outraged that a modern education would include something so . . . so . . . so unmodern, dammit. Something so vile, so visceral, so triggering of all the thoughts we must not think in these days of the new morality.
Pity the poor Neanderthals, our prehistoric cousins. The first Neanderthal fossils were discovered in a place of that name in Germany in 1856. Archaeologists have since turned up fossils ranging from Protoneanderthals and Transition Neanderthals to Classic Neanderthals at about 75 sites from Western Europe to Central Asia. In examining the recovered fossils, tools, and other remains, archaeologists have attempted to reconstruct the lives, habitats, and habits of these archaic humans.
In The Semisovereign People, political scientist E. E. Schatt-schneider argues that “political conflict is not like an intercollegiate debate in which the opponents agree in advance on a definition of the issues. As a matter of fact, the definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power. . . . He who determines what politics is about runs the country.” Schattschneider calls the organized effort to ensure that some alternatives remain illegitimate “the mobilization of bias.”
The very old ones—los viejos—still tell the tale of the Cubs and the Fed.
As children, they heard stories about the legendary Cubs squads of the past, teams with players like Tinkers and Evers and Chance, Banks and Santo, Sandberg and Maddux. And, oh yes, Ferguson Jenkins. And they were told that one day the Cubs would win the World Series. Trust us, they were told: The Cubbies will hoist the trophy, lift the curse, stir the embers, slay the dragon. The Cubbies will not only survive; they will prevail.
Peter Gay, who died May 12 at the age of 91, had a long and estimable academic career, writing “groundbreaking books on the Enlightenment, the Victorian middle classes, Sigmund Freud, Weimar culture and the cultural situation of Jews in Germany,” according to the New York Times. Unfortunately, his last book, on Romanticism, was neither groundbreaking nor estimable.