Recent links of note:
“The D. H. Lawrence We Forgot”
Frances Wilson, The New Yorker
Just as it is reductive to think of Dostoevsky only as a religious writer, so is it patently useless to pigeonhole D. H. Lawrence as a “writer of sex.” He is, unfortunately, all too commonly thus considered, both by those who covertly snatch a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover from the shelf and by feminist critics, who have had it out for the British writer ever since the publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949), in which she derided his “phallocentrism.” This has ensured that, following a brief, fad-like revival in the early Sixties, Lawrence’s stock has remained low. As Frances Wilson, the author of an upcoming biography of Lawrence, writes in The New Yorker, the key to rehabilitating his reputation may lie in a broader appreciation of his neglected short stories, essays, travel writing, and poetry. It seems there is much to be gained if we disabuse ourselves of the notion that, as Philip Larkin put it, “Sexual intercourse began/ In nineteen sixty-three . . . / Between the end of the ‘Chatterley’ ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP.”
“Gustav Mahler’s bid for greatness: the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’”
Philip Hensher, The Spectator
D. H. Lawrence and Gustav Mahler were both gatekeepers of the modern for their respective mediums: Lawrence with his novels, Mahler with his symphonies. They both also had torrid marriages with high-class Germanic divas—in Mahler’s case, Alma Schindler, the lover of Oskar Kokoschka and Walter Gropius, among several others. Mahler’s titanic Symphony No. 8, popularly known as the “Symphony of a Thousand,” was the most ambitious of his latter symphonies, but its brazen overconfidence in itself (it indeed calls for over one thousand performers) won it few champions in the lean years following World War I. It hit a stronger nerve at its 1908 premier in Munich, which played host to a who’s who of the European intelligentsia, as Philip Hensher writes for The Spectator in his review of a new book on the piece. Of the many celebrity attendees who felt its outsize effect, a stunned Thomas Mann was inspired to base Death in Venice’s Gustav von Aschenbach on Mahler, and Gropius himself was moved to the point of breaking off his affair with Alma. No small feat.
“Music for a While #35: Greatness, consolation, transcendence.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“A tour through a sonata,” by Jay Nordlinger. On the pianist Igor Levit in Beethoven.