This week: baseball cards, Notre-Dame, the Supreme Court & more.
“Battle for The Marble Palace: Michael Bobelian with Alicia Bannon,” at the New York Public Library, mid-Manhattan branch (September 4): In our September 2019 issue, Andrew C. McCarthy tidily sums up the current standing of the Supreme Court’s nomination procedure: “The process is broken. Of this, there can be no doubt.” Hardly a mechanism of “advice and consent,” the confirmation hearings have transformed into ideological battlefields for control of the country’s highest court. The Kavanaugh affair is only the most recent episode. Many legal scholars point back to Democratic outrage over Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork, a constitutional originalist, as the first in the series. In his latest book, Battle for the Marble Palace, the lawyer and scholar Michael Bobelian argues that Lyndon Johnson’s failed nomination in 1968 of Abe Fortas to the position of Chief Justice sheds even more light on the origins of the current institutional (mal)practice. Seconded by Alicia Bannon, a faculty member at the nyu School of Law, Bobelian will deliver a talk on his work at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday, September 4, at the mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library. —RE
Quichotte: A Novel, by Salman Rushdie (Random House): Over four hundred years ago, Miguel de Cervantes wrote The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha about a hidalgo who, having become obsessed with the stories of knights-errant, loses his grip on reality and decides to become such a roving romantic character himself. Now, Salman Rushdie has written Quichotte about an elderly Indian pharmaceutical salesman who, having become obsessed with the stories of real housewives, fake doctors, and the other colorful characters he consumes on his television, loses his grip on reality and decides to travel across the United States to win over a television personality with whom he has fallen in love. But the tale of Quichotte is just the inner matryoshka doll here. In fact the author of his story, we’re told, is Sam DuChamp, a “modestly (un)successful” spy-fiction writer, whose life turns out to be not all that different from that of his loony creation. Rushdie will be at Cooper Union tomorrow night to discuss his latest. —RH
“Selections from the Collection of Jefferson R. Burdick,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through January 12, 2020): Everyone has an uncle that obsessively hoarded baseball cards, but the Syracuse electrician Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–63) probably had yours beat, in both the breadth and the depth of his collection. Over the years he gathered more than thirty thousand baseball cards and 303,000 other objects of baseball memorabilia, all produced between the 1880s and 1950s. Before he died he gave the entire lot of these curios of Americana to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which became as a result the holder of the second largest public collection of baseball cards in the world (behind the one at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown). Now at the Met is a selection of nearly one hundred examples. Fans of handlebar mustaches, patterned knickerbockers, and unabashed virility will rejoice. —AS
“Notre-Dame: Iconic Cathedral; Disastrous Fire; Uncertain Future,” at Scandinavia House (September 9): The image of a burning Cathedral of Notre-Dame captivated the world in April, inspiring immediate proposals for rebuilding or reconstituting the church. But the building’s future remains unclear. The announced architectural contest to rebuild the structure has not yet declared its winner. And the public remains largely in the dark. Next Monday the International Foundation for Art Research will bring together medieval art and architecture scholars and experts in masonry conservation to discuss the prospects for the building’s rebirth. Click here for Peter Pennoyer’s thoughts on the restoration, from our June 2019 issue. —BR
Upcoming at The New Criterion:
“Leninthink: On the pernicious legacy of Vladimir Lenin,” featuring Gary Saul Morson (September 25). Presenting The New Criterion’s First Annual Circle Lecture.
From the Archive:
“Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals,” by Gary Saul Morson (October 2017). On the literary works of the Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
“Music for a While: Festival Time.” Jay Nordlinger, music critic of The New Criterion, talks music—but, more important, plays music.