Recent links of note:
“No Nobel Prize for Literature? Thank Goodness.”
Robert Messenger, The Weekly Standard
Two years after Bob Dylan failed to appear to accept his Nobel Prize in Literature, the award’s judges have decided that the prize itself will be a no-show in 2018. Instead, in an effort to allow a #MeToo scandal involving a judge’s husband to pass over, two prizes will be awarded concurrently next year. In the interim, Robert Messenger looks back on the history of the prize and questions its future: is a Swedish award created to promote its own writers, and later driven primarily by politics, he asks, really a worthy arbiter of the best that literature has to offer? A list of winners since the prize’s inauguration in 1901 suggests that it isn’t. Those present: Sully Prudhomme (the inaugural recipient, now forgotten by history), seven Swedes, Jean-Paul Sartre (who attempted to reject the award), and Bob Dylan. Those absent: Tolstoy, Chekhov, Ibsen, James, and Twain. It appears from this comparison that great writers can speak for themselves, with or without Nobel laurels.
“The Great War’s Great Price”
Allen C. Guelzo, National Review
Nearly one hundred years after Armistice Day on November 11, 1918, the National Mall has no monument for what President Woodrow Wilson announced would be “the war to end all wars.” So how did the war’s outcomes affect our country—at home and abroad, then and now? Allen C. Guelzo canvasses the aftermath: millions dead (116,000 American), huge debts for European countries, and disagreements about the terms of peace in the Versailles Treaty, which festered as half-buried grievances that would explode again two decades later. Besides this international unrest, the war also changed the way America conducted itself at home, as it brought an army of administrators to usher in Wilson’s progressive plans for “government by experts”: the Food Administration, the Fuel Administration, and boards and committees galore. For more on Armistice Day, read a retrospective look at the legacy of the Armistice by Nick Lloyd and a review of the Great War poet Robert Graves’s biography by D. J. Taylor, just out in our November issue.
“Tristram Hunt unveils plans for V&A East—the Victoria & Albert Museum’s satellite London location”
Martin Bailey, The Art Newspaper
Tristram Hunt, the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, recently announced a large gift for the British people—likely to be paid for by the British people. On Thursday, Hunt unveiled plans for V&A East, a second location on the former Olympic site in Stratford. V&A East will consist of two buildings: a new storage complex and a five-story waterfront museum that will be co-run by Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution. According to Hunt, one-fourth of V&A East’s exhibitions will be curated by the Smithsonian, which plans to dedicate its designated floor to “big, topical issues . . . tackling challenges of our time,” such as “identity” and “loneliness.” One hopes that when V&A isn’t busy tackling abstractions, it will think about ways to uphold its professed reputation as “the world’s leading museum of art and design” in the new space. And with public funding from various sources supporting almost the entire building cost of £1.1 billion, V&A will pay nothing for construction. All V&A has to worry about is the operating cost for the museum’s vastly expanded square footage. Martin Bailey’s article includes images of the projected museum, an interview with Hunt, a timeline of building plans, and a brief analysis of the finances that will all add up to the museum’s projected opening in 2023.
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Machiavelli, man of the people