This week: Catholic writers, Thomas Cole, a recording of NY Phil soloists & more from the world of culture.
The Catholic Writer Today, by Dana Gioia (Wiseblood): In December 2013, First Things magazine published Dana Gioia’s essay “The Catholic Writer Today.” The role of the Catholic writer has diminished in recent decades, Gioia believes, particularly in America. In the last century, the list of literary Catholics was impressive, including Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Robert Lowell, Allen Tate, and Thomas Merton, just for starters (not to mention their prolific cousins in Britain: Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Muriel Spark). In this new collection, Gioia aims to fortify our sense of the Catholic influence on English-language literature through historical essays (John Donne, Elizabeth Jennings, and that quintessential priest-poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, make appearances), two interviews, and occasional writings on George Tooker, modern martyrdom, Aquinas in Los Angeles, and more. Gioia, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is a compelling advocate for the diversity and vitality of Catholic writing in America. —HN
“Thomas Cole’s Refrain: The Paintings of Catskill Creek,” at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site (through November 3): While Thomas Cole’s epic series got all the attention at the Met last year, the painter’s wide output also included smaller, less allegorical (though still symbolistic) scenes. In a new exhibition, just opened at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, New York, the exhibition curator and Vassar professor emeritus H. Daniel Peck makes the case that Cole’s repeated paintings of Catskill Creek, from varied vantage-points, form their own kind of series—one without the explicit narrative drift of The Course of Empire but nonetheless purposely connected by more than just a shared setting. Peck calls it a “refrain.” With twelve Cole paintings and a host of other views of Catskill Creek by those inspired by him (Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, and Charles Herbert Moore), the exhibition is not to be missed by admirers of the Hudson River School. Those who can make it up to the Cole House will be rewarded with their own view of Catskill Creek, while those who can’t should seek out the exhibition catalogue, out now from Three Hills. —BR
Soloists of the New York Philharmonic, with Joseph Alessi, Frank Huang, Anthony McGill, and more (Decca Gold): For those who haven’t been able to make it to the concert hall recently, the New York Philharmonic has the next best thing: a recording of concertos by its soloists, out from Decca Gold next week. The album includes many of the Philharmonic regulars’ shining moments over the past three years: the principal flute Robert Langevin in Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2, the concertmaster Frank Huang in Barber’s harrowing and gorgeous Violin Concerto, the principal clarinet Anthony McGill in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto (led by the Phil’s forceful new music director, Jaap van Zweden), and more. Preorder now to introduce yourself to the NY Phil or to check in on what’s been happening at David Geffen Hall. —HN
Russell Kirk’s Concise Guide to Conservatism, edited by Wilfred M. McClay (Gateway Editions): Russell Kirk published The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Conservatism in 1957, four years after his seminal Conservative Mind. The title is a joke at the expense of George Bernard Shaw’s rather patronizing Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (1928). In reality, though, the book is a simple summary of his brand of conservatism meant for both sexes and now reissued as Russell Kirk’s Concise Guide to Conservatism. For more on Kirk, check out “Permanent Things: A Symposium,” essays from our conference on the great Michigander, published in our January issue. —HN
From the archive: “One is the loneliest number,” by Laura Jacobs (June 2006). On the New York City Ballet.
From the current issue: “Myths, legends & monsters,” by Andrew Stuttaford. On Metamorphica, by Zachary Mason; The Thirty-Five Timely & Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County, by Mason Ball; 77, by Guillermo Saccomanno; and Rock and Roll Is Life, by D. J. Taylor.
From the editors: “Perennial Visions,” at Project: ARTspace (May 7 through June 15). Join our colleague Caetlynn Booth along with Amy Lincoln for a joint exhibition of their vibrant paintings of the natural world, with an opening reception at the Flatiron-district gallery on May 7 from 7 to 9 p.m.