Recent links of note:
“The sadder side of summer?”
Norman Lebrecht, The Critic
I once visited an exhibition at the Fondazione Prada on the Grand Canal of Venice entirely dedicated to the huts of famous men. Each floor of the eighteenth-century Palazzo Corner della Regina featured a different diminutive hut to which a well-known philosopher retreated: Wittgenstein, Adorno, and Heidigger. This is apparently a very German phenomenon. The photo at the top of today’s post shows Gustav Mahler’s Komponierhäuschen (“composer’s hut”) in Steinbach am Attersee, Austria, where he wrote his triumphant Symphony No. 2 and the microcosmic Symphony No. 3. As Norman Lebrecht recounts in his reflection on the summer habits of composers, Mahler would often leap into the Attersee from his hut and swim the entire breadth of the lake and back again before beginning his day’s work.
Jay Tolson, The Hedgehog Review
Adapting the philosopher Eric Voegelin, William F. Buckley, Jr. admonished Americans not to “immanentize the eschaton.” In theology, this is a proscription against seeking to hurry the approach of the Apocalypse. Buckley’s use of the phrase concerned contemporary secular movements attempting to construct an earthly paradise.
The French writer Charles Péguy was similarly set against “immanentizing” ideologies, a position which, Matthew Maguire argues in a new book, marked him as an outsider of both progressive and reactionary movements in fin de siècle Europe. He was, Maguire says, neither a modernist nor an anti-modernist, but an “amodernist.” A complicated thinker, Péguy was “a rare sort of liberal, one who believed that liberal principles had to be grounded in the soil of local, native traditions.” He eschewed cosmopolitanism, but hoped for an internationalism that would encompass these local traditions and national causes. Sometimes identified as a socialist and nationalist, Péguy nevertheless would have bristled at such categorization, refusing to associate himself with any party or movement. Since his death in the trenches of World War I, Péguy has largely been neglected, save for the interest of a small group of devotees, including the poet Geoffrey Hill. For Roger Kimball’s exploration of Péguy in our own pages, read here.
“The Unknown Eileen”
Martin Tyrrell, Dublin Review of Books
George Orwell’s marriage to Eileen O’Shaughnessy was often fraught. Eileen, an Irishwoman and a graduate of Oxford, dedicated herself to supporting the work of her husband, to the eventual detriment of her own health. She died of cancer in 1945, upon which her husband famously commented to Stephen Spender, blithely, “She was a good old stick.” Writing for the Dublin Review of Books, Martin Tyrrell reviews Eileen: The Making of George Orwell by Sylvia Topp, an exploration of the lesser-told story of Orwell’s first wife. Eileen was certainly erudite and, from surviving fragments, a writer of some skill. Topp’s claim is that, through steady support of her husband and through her own writing, she held a much greater influence on Orwell’s oeuvre than thought. Tyrrell investigates this claim and engages in a fair bit of detective work himself, detailing the genealogy of Eileen’s family and her childhood in Ireland.
“Music for a While #29: America: plenty good room”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Knocking at the gates” by Clayton Trutor. A review of Alaric the Goth: An Outsider’s History of the Fall of Rome, by Douglas Boin.