This week: Theodore Dalrymple, Etruscan and Roman statues, Paul Resika, Sibelius, rare books & more.
These Spindrift Pages, by Theodore Dalrymple (Mirabeau): Beyond the company of a lucid and unpretentious stylist, the musings in These Spindrift Pages offer a second, rarer pleasure: the company of a clear-eyed reader. At the outset Theodore Dalrymple professes no other object than “to record thoughts about what I read,” a delicious understatement, for I can think of no other single volume treating the assortment of authors—from Hopkins and Housman to Miroslav Holub, Éric Zemmour to the obscure Docteur Vardo (Le Charlatanisme et les charlatans en la médecine, 1867)—under discussion here. The brief entries should not, however, be confused with holistic book reviews; the approach is more modest, and more illuminating for it. Dalrymple delights in the margins, figuratively and literally (the book opens discussing a note in pencil in a book on Wittgenstein), and so gives us a model of readership to be savored and emulated. —RE
Gods from the Mud: The Discovery of Etruscan and Roman Bronze Statues at San Casciano dei Bagni, with Jacopo Tabolli, at the King Juan Carlos I Center, New York University (May 4): Who has visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s impressive holdings of Greek and Roman art and not marveled at the Bronze Statue of an Aristocratic Boy (27 B.C.–A.D. 14), the boy suavely insouciant with one finger raised. Roman bronzes continue to fascinate, and the world’s known stock of them increased with the discovery last summer of dozens near Orvieto. Jacopo Tabolli, the lead archaeologist on that dig, will speak in two Thursdays at NYU about the hoard. Though the lecture is sold out, the university will offer a livestream. —BR
“Paul Resika: Recent Paintings” at Bookstein Projects, New York (Part I: April 20–May 12): At the age of ninety-four, the painter Paul Resika is not interested in sailing off into the sunset. A new exhibition of his latest paintings at Bookstein Projects is so radiant it must be shown in two parts. Now on view through May 12 is a suite called “The End of the Day”—sunlit seascapes by way of blazing abstractions. A painting from his moonlit series called “Free and Easy” is also on view. Then from May 17 through June 9, Resika will show two monumental paintings, titled Cerulean and Tangelo, of sail-like triangles against luminous backgrounds. Taken together, the compositions depict the how as much as the what of painting, by an artist who has spent a lifetime in paint. —JP
The Boston Symphony Orchestra performs works by Jean Sibelius, Carnegie Hall (April 25): Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5 is a symphony of motion—soaring, specifically. Its first movement shivers awake with a gorgeous brass and woodwind chorale, as the tempo moves incrementally faster: Tempo molto moderato, Allegro moderato, and so on up to Più presto. The momentum is inexorable, and it concludes in one of the great tutti flourishes in symphonic music: as timpani pound away, the orchestra soars up towards a tonic resolution, and the feeling of taking flight is so powerfully evoked. Still, its most famous passage is yet to come: the final movement’s “swan-call” theme, which the musicologist Sir Donald Tovey dubbed the “strokes of Thor’s hammer.” No wonder that Sibelius took inspiration for this concise, beautifully constructed symphony from his sighting of a bevy of sixteen swans taking flight. Hear it this Tuesday at Carnegie Hall in the hands of Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. First course is a Sibelius tone poem, Luonnotar, featuring the soprano Golda Schutz, followed by Anne-Sophie Mutter in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major and Thomas Adès’s Air for violin and orchestra, an homage to Sibelius. —IS
The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, at the Park Avenue Armory (April 27–30): Starting this Friday, the Park Avenue Armory will host the sixty-third annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, where almost two hundred vendors from sixteen countries will exhibit and sell selections of the world’s rare books, prints, illustrations, historical documents, and other literary items. Among the most coveted offerings will be a collection of Shakespeare’s four Folios, alongside a first edition of his collected poems. Gathered together for sale for the first time in over twenty years, the First through Fourth Folios (the former printed in 1623, the latter in 1685) and the poetry edition will be listed for an eye-watering $10.5 million. Other treasures include original photos taken from the moon by the Apollo 8 astronauts, the only copy of West Side Story (Random House, first edition) to be signed by all four creators, and a first edition of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, 1543), which posited his heliocentric theory. But even window-shoppers without endless funds will still find much pleasure in perusing the selections brought to the Armory by top-tier booksellers such as Jonkers Rare Books, which will be selling a first edition of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Single-day tickets to this annual rare-book bonanza are available for $32. —JW
“Music for a While #74: Speak low, speak high.” Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
From the Archives:
“Upstairs & downstairs in Amherst,” by Denis Donoghue (April 2011). On two new books about the life and works of Emily Dickinson.
“All that’s fit for print,” by Warren Frye. On “Dürer, Munch, Miró: The Great Masters of Printmaking” at the Albertina Museum, Vienna.