The Politics of Prudence, by Russell Kirk, with a new introduction by Michael P. Federici (Regnery): Pace Plato, the author of the Fourth Book of Maccabees named not temperance but prudence as the supreme cardinal virtue—though given the book’s suspected authorship by a Jew living under Caligula, perhaps this preference for sagacity is unsurprising. But if The Politics of Prudence is any indication, Russell Kirk seemed to agree with the Maccabean writer. In Prudence (first published in 1993 and now out in a new edition from Regnery), Kirk shows the virtue to be central to the formation of the conservative temperament and necessary to the resistance of ideology. He does not dispense ready-made dogmas nor programmatic prescriptions; instead, he assembles a parade of individuals and groups notable for their prudence—and others for their imprudence—and pushes the reader to learn from their examples. As the debate over conservatism’s future trundles onward, Kirk’s flexible yet demanding vision here ought not to be forgotten. —LL
“Laure de Margerie: French Sculpture, An American Passion,” at Albertine (November 1): Tucked within the Stanford White–designed Payne Whitney mansion (1906) that houses the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the bookstore Albertine has been delighting Francophiles since its inauguration in 2014. In addition to offering more than fourteen thousand titles from over thirty different countries, Albertine regularly hosts author talks, book clubs, and other events promoting French–American cultural exchange. Slated for this week is a wide-ranging lecture by Laure de Margerie, a former head of the sculpture archives at the Musée d’Orsay, who will discuss the long and happy history of that exchange as it pertains to sculpture. (De Margerie currently directs the French Sculpture Census, a comprehensive online catalogue of French sculpture in American public collections.) The lecture will be delivered in English; registration is free. —RE
Susanna Mälkki conducts the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall (November 2, 3 & 4): The composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839–81) reminds me of the self-taught painter Henri Rousseau, five years his junior. Like Rousseau, he was recognized by a broader movement for his vision and inspiration, though he lacked facility and training in the finer points of his art. (Mussorgsky spent his formative years in a brutally strict cadet’s school, only studying composition as an adult). If there was something “primitive” about the man, Mussorgsky embraced it, sometimes signing his name with a pun in Russian as Musoryanin, “the dweller among refuse.” Mussorgsky showed that he kept a finger close to the pulse of the people in works such as the astounding political opera Boris Godunov and the suite Pictures at an Exhibition, in the latter of which we hear Orthodox chant, meet the Slavic witch Baba Yaga, and finish before the Great Gates of Kiev. For three dates this week, Susanna Mälkki will conduct the New York Philharmonic in Pictures together with works by Liszt, Bartók, and Ligeti. —IS
Sabbath’s Theater, adapted by Ariel Levy & John Turturro, directed by Jo Bonney, at Pershing Square Signature Center, New York (opens November 2): The trigger warnings that accompany Sabbath’s Theater, Ariel Levy and John Turturro’s new adaptation of the 1995 novel by Philip Roth, should be regarded as understatement: “This production contains nudity, sexual situations, strong and graphic language, and discussion of suicide.” We might expect nothing less from Mickey Sabbath, Roth’s degenerate puppeteer Don Juan. Directed by Jo Bonney and starring Jason Kravits and Elizabeth Marvel along with Turturro in the lead role, The New Group’s production opening this Thursday exposes the humor (and then some) of this disgraced lothario as he faces his own mortality amidst the wreckage of sexual revolution. Look forward to a full review by Kyle Smith in the December issue. —JP
By the Editors:
“Campus Radicals and Leftist Groups Have Embraced the Idea of ‘Settler Colonialism’”
Adam Kirsch, The Wall Street Journal
“Music for a While #81: Pictures, souvenirs & more.” Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
From the Archives:
“Michelangelo & the Quattrocento,” by James Gardner (November 1985). On the dialogue between Michelangelo & his contemporaries.