Andrew Ellicott, Plan of the city of Washington in the territory of Columbia, ceded by the states of Virginia and Maryland to the United States of America, and by them established as the seat of their government, after the year MDCC, 1792/ Courtesy: The Richard H. Brown Revolutionary War Map Collection
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This week: A memoir by Pryce-Jones, Poems by Kirsch, and Schubert by Padmore.
Fiction: Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh (Folio Society): I’ve spoken admiringly in this space before about both the fiction of Evelyn Waugh and the editions put out by the niche publisher The Folio Society. So I was gratified to open the Society’s fall catalogue and see a forthcoming edition of Waugh’s modernist classic, Vile Bodies, on offer. The book, whose subject is the youthful imprudence of those 1920s Londoners we now call the “Bright Young Things,” is a distillation of the absurdity of the times. With comic set pieces including failed country house visits, customs mishaps, and imaginary fashion fads deriving from an anonymous gossip column, the novel—Waugh’s second—presages his later work while adopting a (mostly) sunnier disposition than the novels that followed. Fans of Waugh should also be enchanted by the parade of names in the book: from Doubting Hall to Mr. Outrage, PM, to Miles Malpractice (one of three characters to fill the role of Mr. Chatterbox, the anonymous gossip columnist). The Folio Society’s new version, illustrated by Kate Baylay, captures both the glamor and dark vanity of the Jazz Age, and is a fitting tribute to one of the finest works of modernist literature. —BR
Nonfiction: Fault Lines, by David Pryce-Jones (Criterion Books): Criterion Books, an imprint of The New Criterion is delighted to introduce, Fault Lines, a new memoir from David Pryce-Jones, out now and available on Amazon. David Pryce-Jones, born in Vienna in 1936, is a man of eclectic origins. The son of the well-known writer and editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Alan Pryce-Jones, and Therese “Poppy” Fould-Springer, he grew up in a heady, cosmopolitan mix of industrialists, bankers, soldiers, and bons vivants on both sides of the family: the source of the titular fault lines. In a new memoir, David Pryce-Jones traces these fault lines to the late nineteenth century, detailing the lives and marriages of his maternal grandparents, Eugène Fould from Paris and Mitzi Springer from Vienna, as well as his paternal lineage, Harry Pryce-Jones from Wales and the English Vere Dawnay. Out of the story of the union of these two families emerges a remarkable, panoptic view of Europe in the early twentieth century. Fault Lines—a memoir spanning Europe, America, and the Middle East, and encompassing figures ranging from Somerset Maugham to Svetlana Stalin to Elie de Rothschild—has the storytelling power of Pryce-Jones's numerous novels and non-fiction books, and is perceptive and poignant testimony to the fortunes and misfortunes of the present age. —BR
Poetry: Emblems of the Passing World: Poems After Photographs by August Sander, by Adam Kirsch (Other Press): Adam Kirsch's latest poetry collection draws on striking visual inspiration. Each of his poems is titled after a photograph by August Sander (1876–1964), which in Other Press's elegant little book is reproduced next to each poem. Kirsch looks deeply into Sander's haunting portraits of everyday German people, often unidentified, at the time of World War I and during the Weimar Republic. Writing with hindsight on what the future will bring to his figures, Kirsch also considers the blindness of our own present moment. As Kirsch writes in "Revolutionaries": "The monuments/ To which the future genuflects will bear/ These Faces, so intelligently stern,/ Under whose revolutionary stare,/ Everything that is burnable must burn." —JP
Art: Beat Nite Gowanus (October 16): Pushed out further along the L-Train, the nonprofit Norte Maar, which helped define the Bushwick art scene, has recently relocated to Cypress Hills. Its biannual Beat Nite gallery crawl, in its thirteenth iteration this Friday evening, will also move beyond Bushwick to look at the galleries and alternative art spaces in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Known for its Whole Foods and the Superfund site surrounding it, even inspiring its own ice-cream flavor, Gowanus is a neighborhood of contradictions ready to be explored in this ten-venue late-night tour. —JP
Architecture: Bronx Community College: Conversation with Robert F. Gatje & Bernard Marson (October 18): Bronx Community College is opening its doors this Sunday for a rare opportunity to see one of the city's least-recognized landmarks: the former Bronx home of New York University, now under the care of BCC. Included in the tour is the celestial Gould Memorial Library and The Hall of Fame of Great Americans—the country's original "hall of fame"—both designed by Stanford White at the turn of the last century. Anyone interested in Beaux-Arts architecture and institutional design will not want to miss this chance to learn from experts on hand to discuss the historical and artistic significance of New York's forgotten university campus. —JP
Music: Die Schöne Müllerin, Schwanengesang, and Winterreise, by Schubert, performed by Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout at Lincoln Center (October 14, 15, and 17): In my season preview podcast with Jay Nordlinger a few weeks ago, I highlighted three concerts from this coming week as my can't-miss picks of the fall: Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis performing Schubert's three great song cycles over three nights at Alice Tully Hall. The lineup has since undergone an odd change. Paul Lewis unfortunately had to withdraw, and his replacement Kristian Bezuidenhout will be playing a different instrument: the fortepiano, instead of the pianoforte. The tour begins on Wednesday with Die Schöne Müllerin, continues on Thursday with Schwanengesang (paired with Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte), and concludes on Saturday with the immortal Winterreise.
Taken together, these three cycles represent perhaps the greatest marriage of poetry and music ever achieved. Any opportunity to hear them, regardless of the performer, is a gift—though to hear them sung by so eminent a tenor is a significant bonus. —ECS
Other: "We Are One: Mapping America's Road from Revolution to Independence," at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (Through November 29): Cartophiles, rejoice. And one you’ve finished rejoicing, head to Boston for an exhibit sure to please. The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library has mounted an extensive show of over sixty maps from the time of the American Revolution, marking the sestercentennial anniversary of the divisive Stamp Act. The maps illustrate the changing nature of the American colonies and are organized chronologically. The various sections present maps of the Crown’s territories, maps of the revolutionary skirmishes, and maps made of the new republic, including Andrew Ellicott’s 1792 plan of the nation’s new capital, Washington D.C. The exhibition will travel to Colonial Williamsburg in 2016 and the New York Historical Society in 2017, but those who can’t wait to see the exhibition’s myriad treasures should seek out the accompanying book, out now from Norton. —BR
Support our friends: The Thriving Society: On the Social Conditions of Human Flourishing (The Witherspoon Institute): From a variety of perspectives and with diverse expertise, The Thriving Society essayists discuss foundational issues, institutional challenges, and controversial policies. Many cluster around five entities or institutions fundamental to a free and prosperous society: the person, the family, law and government, universities, and economic organizations. Additional essays cover religion, family law, foreign policy, and healthcare policy. The book opens with essays on first principles. The differences among the authors in topic and perspective produce a lively if often implicit debate among intellectual friends. In this respect, perhaps they model the kind of society they anticipate or promote.
From the archive: A burnt-out fairground, by David Pryce-Jones: While you wait for David Pryce-Jones’s Fault Lines to arrive, read an excerpt from the book that ran in our May 2015 issue.
From our latest issue: The old lies of the Young Turks, by Christopher Atamian: Reflections on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
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