Recent links of note:
“The Dictionary and Us”
David Skinner, The Weekly Standard
RIP, American Heritage Dictionary usage panel. Started in 1964 to decide whether “ain’t” is an acceptable verb, whether “hopefully” is interchangeable with “I hope,” and whether the word “will” should allowed to indicate futurity, the panel faced the usual criticisms: its members were too old, too elite, and too curmudgeonly in their disapproval of slang. But they also had years of expertise and a devotion to giving American English speakers a sense of what is and is not proper usage. After decades of uncertainty about its role in relation to the dictionary in particular and American English in general, the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt quietly terminated it this February. David Skinner, a former member of the usage panel, tells the story of the American Heritage Dictionary and why its usage panel ain’t gonna judge our grammar no more.
“A Missive from Harvey Mansfield”
Harvey Mansfield, Harvard Magazine
“From Athens to America,” a recent conference on the work of Delba Winthrop, was the most learned discussion ever to take place in D.C., according to Bill Kristol, who served as a panelist. Winthrop’s posthumously published dissertation on Book III of Aristotle’s Politics is both translation and rereading, a deep dive into names, hidden codes, and things Aristotle leaves unsaid about the virtues of democracy. Winthrop delayed publishing the work throughout her life, claiming she “needed to know more Aristotle,” according to her husband Harvey Mansfield, a respected professor of political philosophy at Harvard. Yet she seems to have known enough: scholars are already finding much to discuss in her work, especially in the ways Aristotle’s classical view of democracy can inform and enrich our own, often more Lockean vision. For more on the conference, read Nick Burns’s report in our online Dispatch.
“The year in exhibitions: world’s great collection reunited for once-in-a-lifetime shows”
José da Silva, The Art Newspaper
It was the Year of the Collector, according to the art calendar. Art collections have been the source of great pride throughout history, but they have also suffered even greater falls. The respective collections of Charles I and Charles II were dispersed after the monarchs left the throne of England, but shows at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Queen’s Gallery this year reunited them. It was much the same story for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, and Marquis Campana (though the latter’s case was more dramatic: he was convicted of embezzlement in 1857), selections of which are on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Musee du Louvre in Paris. For more on the collections of Charles I and II, read Dominic Green’s review in our April issue.
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