This week: Nostalgia in lit crit, a New York book fair, Anne Morgan’s WWI & more from the world of culture.
The Nostalgic Imagination, by Stefan Collini (Oxford University Press): In his influential After the New Criticism (1980), Frank Lentricchia wrote that the formalist legacy of foundational New Critics such as Eliot, Wimsatt, Brooks, and Warren was the “repeated and often extremely subtle denial of history.” His judgment—that “words on the page” interpretation necessitated a damaging ahistorical attitude—has come to represent established fact for mainstream literary theorists across the Anglosphere. In his new book, The Nostalgic Imagination: History in English Criticism, Stefan Collini (a Professor of English Literature and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge) says “not so fast.” His analysis of criticism in Britain during the middle of the twentieth century promises to be an important addition to the field of literary studies. Look for Paul Dean’s review of the book in a forthcoming issue. —AS
“New York–Centric,” at the American Fine Arts Society Gallery (March 5 through May 1, opening reception March 7): New York City is a contest of structure and movement. The street grid contends with the chaos of midtown. Abstract artists have long been inspired by the boogie-woogie of Broadway. Now at the Art Students League, the exhibition “New York–Centric” looks to the dynamics of color and form in the crosswalk. Curated by James Little, the League instructor and painter who masterfully balances flowing encaustic with rigorous geometry, the exhibition, with a catalogue essay by Karen Wilkin, brings together a “who’s who” of abstract artists, including Thornton Willis, Alma Thomas, Al Loving, Tom Evans, Ronnie Landfield, Peter Reginato, Gabriele Evertz, and Larry Poons, among others, who interact with the city and each other. An opening reception for the exhibition will take place this Thursday, March 7, from 6 to 8 p.m.—JP
“The 59th Annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair,” at the Park Avenue Armory (March 7 through 10): What do you call a gathering of more than two hundred rare, unusual, and antique books dealers, all at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan? If you’re a bibliophile, you might call that heaven on earth. But like all good things this side of paradise, this temporary bookstore and book lovers’ conference won’t last long: get tickets now for the event, open Thursday through Sunday, with special programs on Saturday afternoon and “Discovery Day” on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., when collectors can bring up to five books to be evaluated by experts. —HN
Anne Morgan’s War: L’autre chemin des dames (premiering March 4; re-airing March 6): Though we have now passed out of the hundredth anniversary year of the end of World War I, the commemorations continue. Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old, which premiered last year and garnered praise for its deft enlivening of archival war footage, is still playing in select New York theaters. And this week brings another cinematic remembrance of the war, though on the small screen. Tonight at 7 p.m., WNYE (channel 25 for those who still get their television over the air) will show Anne Morgan’s War: L’autre chemin des dames, about the efforts organized by Anne Morgan, a daughter of J. P. Morgan, to help northern France recover from the ruin wrought by the First World War. Morgan heroically led three hundred fifty women in relief efforts, basing themselves at the ruined Château de Blérancourt, in Picardy. Anne Morgan’s War, sponsored by the American Friends of Blérancourt, will play on public television stations across America; for a full list, please click here. —BR
From the archive: “Rehearing yesterday’s violinists,” by Samuel Lipman (December 1990). On 78 RPM recordings of the greats, made available on CD.
From the current issue:“Prophecies of democratic leveling,” by Jacob Howland. On the philosophical foreseers of tyrannical equality.