Recent links of note:
“Atwood’s False Testament”
Ramona Tausz, First Things
“It’s forgotten now,” writes Ramona Tausz in her review of The Testaments, “but [Margaret] Atwood depicted two dystopias in The Handmaid’s Tale.” The grotesque, almost cartoonish world of Atwood’s 1985 bombshell has haunted readers to this day, but, judging from her follow-up effort The Testaments, Atwood may have forgotten why. The seeming absurdities of the theocratic republic of Gilead—women named for their male proprietors, sadistic sex-traitors as Aunts, cringey choreographed executions—are constructed to show that everything beyond the pale has causes on this side of it. Absentminded readers may fail to note the depredations of the pre-Gilead society: a loosening of sexual mores, environmental devastation, unfettered capitalism, and more. “In short,” Tausz explains, “the world depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale was caused by liberalism run amok.” The Testaments, meanwhile, appears to be more rooted in the world of the 2017 Netflix Handmaid’s Tale: calculated to profit from heavy-handed parallels between a one-dimensional fantasyland and the era of Donald Trump. As Aunt Lydia herself says, “People like a scapegoat.”
“When Palladio came to Cheshire—in the 1980s.”
Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Apollo
Try as its practitioners might, the modernist movement in architecture never quite managed to shake free of the past. Writing for Apollo magazine, Timothy Brittain-Catlin takes a look at one case—that of Henbury Hall in Cheshire, built in 1986–87—that was deemed “a problem building” by the high-minded experts of its day, but whose merits should be clear today to anyone with eyes. Among other reasons, he writes, architects at the time had so focused their energies on theory that they lacked the vocabulary and historical knowledge to give the building, which draws largely on Palladian style but also references numerous other modes, a fair shake. Those interested in learning more can turn to Jeremy Musson’s new book on Henbury Hall.
James Panero remembers John Simon
James Panero on the legacy of the cultural critic and longtime New Criterion Contributor.
Music for a While #15: Erotic and other evenings
Jay Nordlinger, music critic of The New Criterion, talks music—but, more important, plays music.