John O'Sullivan,unjustly exiled editor of the late National Review , relates that the latest Russian rage is P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves books, banned by Stalin in 1929, lest the worldly joys of the "English heaven" distract faithful Bolshevik writers from the wonders of the worker's paradise as they squatted in their newly commandeered Tammany Hall, formerly Moscow's Angliski Club.
John says a Tory MP friend of the late humorist " has long maintained that an early Wodehouse short story was on Tolstoy's bedside table the night he died."
"From one heaven to another" JO'S concludes. Readers of another genre must be wondering if the sainted count 's butler put some of the newly discovered wonder metal polonium in his tea.
...A Life of Picasso, Vol. III: The Triumphant Years 1917-32 by John Richardson
my amazement, there were no paintings . . . but only packages, piled
one atop another to the height, say, of Picasso . . . And do you know
what there was inside? Banknotes! Yes, sir, banknotes, the largest
denomination that existed in France then, which was enormous.’
Christian Zervos recollecting the day Picasso took him, as a
favoured confidant, to his vaults in the Banque de France. The fortune had ridden out the Wall
Street crash, and had been accumulating since before the First World
James Lovelock is hardly a global warming contrarian. from " Svalbard, the Arctic archipelago, a part of Norway only 600 miles from the North pole" he reports :
" the first act of global heating is being played out. Not long ago, the floating ice was thick from here to the pole and across to Canada; last summer one million square kilometers of it melted, leaving 70 per cent of the Arctic ocean unfrozen"
Wind may have figured in that as well as weather, but few know more than Lovelock about:"the intricate chemical
mechanisms by which... the sun powers
everything that matters on earth." Yet his theory of the Earth as a somehow self-regulating organism is too metaphysical for orhodox scientific tastes , and Luddite Greens, though no strangers to metaphysics, passionately condemn Lovelock's new-found commitment to nuclear power, to which he has been driven by his own conclusions about climate change. He complains in turn :
Because I am old as well as heretical, I see modern science as like the
medieval Christian church, burdened with the intricate theology of
reduction. Observations and experiments are out of fashion; most
evidence now is taken from the virtual world of computer models. The
technique of inquisition is not the rack but the peer review: a
well-intentioned instrument for sifting good from bad science that has
become the great upholder of conventional wisdom.
If you want to see this paradox of differing scientific perceptions illuminated, try 'Eating The Sun', a new book by Oliver Morton reviewed by Lovelock in Prospect
The Making of the American Conservative Mind : National Review and Its Times
Kindly subsidize the Republic's deliverance from neoconservative captivity by buying a copy. You need not hesitate on account of its subtitle, as it epitomizes a virtue that unfortunate magazine no longer possesses. It is a pleasure to read.
It is the 5 volume follow-up to the 18 volume Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, each volume capable of manslaughter if dropped on the
head of a bottom-shelf browser, cataloging all known images of figures from
ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan myth and religion.
150 years ago, when Delhi was still the capital of the Mughal Empire, an odd public notice emblazoned with a sword and shield appeared on the wall of its great Jama Mosque. The crowd that read it before it was torn down gathered that the Shah of Persia was on the march to liberate his Muslim brethren from their Christian oppressors, his forces having just dealt a crushing defeat to the British on India's Northwest Frontier.
Fundamentalist Sunni clerics, third generation followers of Waliullah Shah, the Arab Ibn Wahab's Indian contemporary and fellow student in the madrasas of Medina, embraced the news, for they took as dim a view of the last Mughal emperor's embrace of Hindu customs and Sufi saints as of his collusion with the divide and conquer policies of the British East India company.
It did not matter that the poster was a fiction- later in 1857 the Great Indian Mutiny erupted, and both Hindu and Muslim troops slaughtered the British by the thousand, coming to within credible military distance of driving Queen Victoria's forces from the subcontinent.
This sobering tale is elaborated in William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal , a useful reminder of how complex the internal affairs of South Asian states can be, and the dangers of acting in ignorance of that complexity.
Tom Pynchon is back in form, the only problem being his growing predictability-- since all polymaths know everything , they tend to think alike. Against The Day, is, among many other things, a gloriously bemused send-up of the unwanted homage paid Gravity's Rainbow andMason & Dixon by Hollywood, His Dark Materials and The Baroque Cycle. It interlineates Pynchon's take on Boys Own fiction and the hard edged neorealism of Blood Meridian. Taking 1,085 pages to parodize a pair of novels approaching 4,000 may seem a dubious literary bargain, but so far it's an absolute hoot.There's no extra charge for insinuating Godel's view of circular time into the story with the eerie clarity.
....You don't need an ear trumpet to hear the thunder of Total Waugh as Harold Evans, quite a piece of Fleet Street work in his own right, uncomfortably exceeds his subject's high standard of sadistic glee as he lights into the Waugh dynasty in a..... crusty example of that great American art form, the ,,,,,,,,,,,Wall Street Journal book review
Max Boot , imperialpolicy arbiter of Rupert Murdoch's.ghastly organ , The Weekly Standard , will not soon forgive Evans for unleashing memories of The Daily Beast by recalling :
"Scoop," the incomparable parody of yellow journalism wherein the
megalomaniacal newspaper magnate Lord Copper mistakenly dispatches
William Boot, a country columnist [as in Town & Country ], to report a typically bewildering
civil war in an African republic. The novel is as hilariously relevant
today as it was when first published in 1938: same wars, same idiocies,
lacking only a writer as gifted as Evelyn to relieve the misery."
Having been sacked by The Daily Express, in 1927 Waugh enrolled in a cabinet making course at Bloomsbury's Central School of Arts and
Selina Hastings points out he ' thought of himself as a
painter and craftsman first, a writer second.' Years later,
when he was an established novelist his
mother wistfully opined he would have done better
to stick to carpentry, since 'furniture is so useful....'