Recent links of note:
“The demise of the second-hand bookshop”
Alexander Larman, The Critic
Here is a judicious look at the two sides of an existential struggle taking place in the British book industry today. With slim overhead and a seemingly inexhaustible source of donated books from which to draw, the ubiquitous Oxfam charity bookshop is quickly (and, perhaps, understandably) pushing out England’s old guard of local second-hand bookshops. This plight has only been exacerbated by coronavirus strictures. It seems that nostalgia alone cannot sustain these venerated establishments, many of which have remained under the stewardship of families for generations. Larman draws special attention to the recent news of London bookseller Francis Edwards’s closing after 150 years of business, an establishment I fondly remember visiting as a child, too young to grasp the value of what was before me but nonetheless quietly awed by the precarious journey down its creaky staircase to the book room below.
“The wit of Wall Street”
Stephen Schmalhofer, Spectator
Readers of Dispatch who enjoyed Stephen Schmalhofer’s sketch of the expatriate American writer Francis Marion Crawford’s life in Italy before the turn of the twentieth century will find a delightful return to that gilded era, hopping back across the pond, in his profile of the Wall Street investor and notorious wag William Riggin Travers. A lifelong stutter didn’t stop Travers from aiming his razor-sharp wit on insufferable English socialites and Wall Street blowhards alike. A taste of his deadpan humor: upon passing New York’s Union Club, he was asked if every man visible through its windows was an habitué of the Club. “‘N-n-no,’ he replied, ‘s-s-some are s-s-sons of habitués.’”
“The Monumental and Human Poetry of Paul Valéry”
Mark Scroggins, Hyperallergic
Paul Valéry’s neoclassical verse has long been out of favor with critics. This is compounded by the fact that it is often hard to shed a certain stuffiness when it is translated into English. Yet Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody’s translation of Valéry’s signature poem, “The cemetery by the sea,” which appeared in the pages of our April 2020 issue, shows just how vibrant Valéry’s poetry can be, as its narrator thrashes back and forth between the cold nihilism of the grave and the epicureanism expressed in what is perhaps the poem’s most famous line: “The wind is rising . . . We must try to live!” Those interested in reading more of Valéry’s work should consult Rudavsky-Brody’s new volume of selected poems from Valéry, reviewed in Hyperallergic by Mark Scroggins. “Cemetery” is included, along with Valéry’s longform masterpiece, La jeune parque (The young fate), and selections from his vast body of prose work, journals, and essays on wide-ranging subjects.
“Music for a While #31: Four-handed phenomena”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Providing music, staying afloat” by Jay Nordlinger. On a “Summer Evening” with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.