This week: New York architecture, Russell Kirk’s legacy, Renaissance-era etching & more.
Old House of Fear, by Russell Kirk (Criterion Books):There are those who know Russell Kirk for his politics. And there are those who know him for his fiction. At Criterion Books, we now hope to connect the two with our reissue of Old House of Fear, Kirk’s wondrous and best-selling novel of 1961, out this week. Kirk’s conservatism was not an ideology. It was more of an anti-ideology. It was a disposition, rooted in the spirits of our literary and cultural traditions. So we can never really understand Kirk’s conservative mind without reading into his gothic sensibility. The past haunted him. The ground haunted him. His ancestors haunted him. These beliefs inhabited his stories and came to life in his fiction. And my, how it came alive. He was a great writer of haunted terrain and thrilling suspense. Set in the Scottish Hebrides, Old House of Fear is a page-turner you can’t put down. Not only will you want to buy this book, you will want to read this book. For more on Kirk’s literary legacy, Annette Kirk joins our latest podcast. —JP
“The Renaissance of Etching,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through January 20, 2020): When we think of art of the Renaissance, our minds instinctively jump to exquisitely naturalistic paintings, elaborate carved altarpieces, dignified sculptures, and grand, classicizing basilicas. But it’s hard to overstate the impact that etching, a medium of far more unpresuming disposition, had on the cultural life of Europe in those exciting times. Reproducible, relatively cheap, and easily distributable, early etchings facilitated the expansion of visual literacy in Europe and the creation of an independent market for prints. Now, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art investigates the origins and development of iron- and copper-plate etching in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, collecting nearly 130 pieces made by such renowned artists as Albrecht Dürer, Parmigianino, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. —AS
“Codex New York: Typologies of the City,” with Stanley Greenberg, at the General Society Library (October 29): They say real New Yorkers don’t look up, unimpressed as they are by the skyscrapers that define their town. But Stanley Greenberg, an urban photographer and New York native, rebukes that idea in his new book, Codex New York: Typologies of the City (The Monacelli Press). Greenberg walked every block in Manhattan, documenting with his lens the architectural features that recur over and over in endless variation around the city. On Tuesday he will appear in conversation with Elizabeth Goldstein, the president of the Municipal Art Society of New York. —BR
“Artists of Washington Square: From Winslow Homer to Edward Hopper and Beyond,” with Bruce Weber, organized by the Municipal Art Society of New York (November 2): Greenwich Village connotes a particularly visible mode of degeneracy this time of year, but the neighborhood has given rise to much worthier forms of expression in the past. Washington Square and its environs have an especially storied history. Even before 1892, when the construction of the Washington Arch set a new painterly subject amid the park’s greenery, the area swarmed with artists who relied upon the buildings (and, in the case of many sculptors, the alleys) for both lodgings and studio space. And yet the area did not evince its present bohemian aspect for a while: notable past residents include such luminaries as Winslow Homer and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Taylor Johnston, built New York City’s first marble mansion near the park in 1856. This Saturday, a tour organized by the Municipal Art Society of New York and led by the art historian and critic Bruce Weber will explore the neighborhood’s artistic past. The morning start time should, with some luck, preclude any surprise confrontations with known crepuscular horrors. —RE
“The literary legacy of Russell Kirk,” featuring Annette Kirk, James Panero & Roger Kimball.Occasioned by the republication of Russell Kirk’s Old House of Fear, with a new introduction by James Panero.
From the archive:
“Herodotus’s wheel,” by Barry Strauss.On The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories, edited by Robert B. Strassler, translated by Andrea L. Purvis.
From our pages:
“Ben-Gurion’s reality,” by David Pryce-Jones.On A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.