WRB–Feb. 12, 2022
Ghosts, Coloring Books, A Chance to Find Love, Plagiarism, Italians
The Managing Editors have never knowingly taken money from the Central Intelligence Agency. [But we’d be open to it. —Chris]
Things to do in D.C. this weekend:
Follow us on Twitter, forward this newsletter to your boss, take advantage of ruthlessly cut-rate pricing on WRB classified ads, about which more is said at the bottom of this email, and, for technical reasons, tell us a joke here: email@example.com.
This is a long one [But it’s the weekend!]: In the Atavist Magazine, No. 123, Christine Grimaldi unravels the story of her family’s somewhat-sordid involvement with the Italian Pentecostal ministry (cult) of Josephine Carbone in depression-era Brooklyn: “The Shadow and the Ghost” [The italic font this site uses is, I’ll say it, a little too jaunty. —Chris]
More on the ghost beat: In The Nation Krithika Varagur reviews the stories of Edith Wharton’s Ghosts, recently in a new edition from NYRB.
And for Gawker, “Myths and Monsters”: Dan Walden reviews a Classics-themed thriller. [Donna Tartt quip tk]
In The Lamp, Roger Lewis dips back into the frequently horrendous poetry of Anthony Burgess. Lewis, who wrote an acclaimed biography of the self-styled genius, finds him rather like Anthony Quinn: “a stranger to subtlety, insisting on being the center of attention.”
Timothy Noah makes a spirited—perhaps a shade self-righteous—case for Washington, D.C.’s greatness in The New Republic. It’s quite the survey, though the Managing Editors were surprised to find that it passed over in silence a certain review of books.
Feb. 14 & 21, 2022 SHOUTS & MURMURS Review:
“I Got Triggered at the Firing Range” by Cora Frazier
Minimum TWO abrupt giggles.
For his birthday (yesterday), the other Review of Books has their editions of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s work on sale (30% off!). If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, they’re widely considered to be a delight.
“Launched by The New York Academy of Medicine Library in 2016, #ColorOurCollections is an annual coloring festival on social media during which libraries, museums, archives and other cultural institutions around the world share free coloring content featuring images from their collections.” [I can't think of anything smarmy to say here, but if you are subscribed to this newsletter and have kids of the right age this is probably up your alley. —Chris]
The Managing Editors are proud to be trendsetters, but they are frustrated to go uncredited for the newest food trend sweeping our nation’s Capital.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that wayward knockoff of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in your Google results, is apparently plagiarized from quite a few sources. Very traditional of them.
What we’re reading:
Chris completely forgot that he’d intended to read through the Greek plays this year, but suspects it won’t be that hard to catch back up. Onward to Aeschylus.
Reality and Dreams is a short novel about a filmmaker, and it is amusing with many droll delights, and makes Chris admire Ms. Sparkʼs talent for writing just the book he wants to read. He has finally gotten a copy of Wilmer Mills’ Light for the Orphans, and these poems are impressive—perhaps one is coming to this newsletter in the near future.
He has also had pressed on him When We Cease to Understand the World, the cover of which is immodestly splattered with prizes, none of which are the only one which matters: “Selected for Barack Obamaʼs summer reading list.”
Nic read Loitering with Intent the other day and chuckled the whole way through. [I just got a copy of this at Capitol Hill Books. —Chris] He wonders what he will do when he finally runs out of Muriel Spark novels [suggestions welcome]. Matthew Continetti’s forthcoming history of the American Right came in the mail on Friday. Nic has been flipping through it all morning and is earnestly in awe of his former boss. This afternoon, he’s picking up a copy of John Updike’s The Magic Flute for children, a book that he hopes is as delightful as it sounds.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux | February 15, 2022
Jena 1800: The Republic of Free Spirits
by Peter Neumann
From the publisher: Around the turn of the nineteenth century, a steady stream of young German poets and thinkers coursed to the town of Jena to make history. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars had dealt a one-two punch to the dynastic system. Confidence in traditional social, political, and religious norms had been replaced by a profound uncertainty that was as terrifying for some as it was exhilarating for others. Nowhere was the excitement more palpable than among the extraordinary group of poets, philosophers, translators, and socialites who gathered in this Thuringian village of just four thousand residents.
Jena became the place for the young and intellectually curious, the site of a new departure, of philosophical disruption. Influenced by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, then an elder statesman and artistic eminence, the leading figures among the disruptors—the translator August Wilhelm Schlegel; the philosophers Friedrich “Fritz” Schlegel and Friedrich Schelling; the dazzling, controversial intellectual Caroline Schlegel, married to August; Dorothea Schlegel, a poet and translator, married to Fritz; and the poets Ludwig Tieck and Novalis—resolved to rethink the world, to establish a republic of free spirits. They didn’t just question inherited societal traditions; with their provocative views of the individual and of nature, they revolutionized our understanding of freedom and reality.
With wit and elegance, Peter Neumann brings this remarkable circle of friends and rivals to life in Jena 1800, a work of intellectual history that is colorful and passionate, informative and intimate—as fresh and full of surprises as its subjects.
[In our day and age, we feel sure, nowhere is there excitement more palpable than among the extraordinary group of poets, philosophers, translators, and socialites who subscribe to the Washington Review of Books.]
“The More Loving One” by W.H. Auden [for Valentine’s Day]
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
from Homage to Clio (1960) [but of course that’s not how anyone reads it] [I came by it honestly, from a girlfriend. —Chris]
The WRB Classifieds:
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Personals [for Valentine’s Day]
Hopelessly romantic film critic seeks best person in the world to see The Worst Person in the World (2022). [Email WRB with subject: “Oslo, I Hardly Know Her”]
Male (27) seeking dreamers, mad prophets, literary types with bold poetic vision to found an intentional community in upstate New York. Experience working soil a plus, but by no means required. Angelic dispositions preferred. We can make it work this time. [Email WRB with subject: “Work of Human Hands”]
Nice Christian girl wanted for nice Christian boy. Him: 25 y/o 6’2” homeowner. Seattle area. Her: Tall a plus. Ex athlete a plus. Must love kids. [Email WRB with subject: “Sleepless in Seattle”]
Single male (23) seeking female to apply to the Claremont Institute’s Lincoln Fellowship with me. All my male friends have already met the requirements of a Lincoln Fellow and used all of their stipends as dowries. Frankly, I do not want to become a Lincoln Fellow; I hate all the Californians and Lincoln. But my dignity compels me to apply. Please join me. [Email WRB with subject: “New Birth of Freedom”]
Rockville parents looking for evening sitter for 15 m/o. For details email email@example.com.
Editor of agriculture publication looking for freelance reporters interested in farming, supply chains, markets. Pays competitively. For details email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to start a podcast but have no idea where to start? Contact podcast expert and Washington Review of Books reader Shadrach Strehle! One client called his rates “cheap,” and his work “exceptional.” But don’t take his word for it, try Shad yourself! For info and a consultation contact Shadrach Strehle at email@example.com.
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THE WEDDING COLUMN MURDERS
Death stalks the clueless and pampered members of New York's upper crust against a backdrop that includes a reality tv star turned president, an Instagram poet writing about his IBS, and The Church of the Gun in Strange Fruit, Texas.
“A dark, witty and thrilling novel... A brilliant debut” —Charlie Tyler
Read here: http://mybook.to/weddingcolumn
Critically acclaimed visionary filmmaker Joe Pappalardo demands you watch RODENT KING.
Pray the Rosary daily!