Recent links of note:
Jonathan Parry, London Review of Books
Few figures of nineteenth-century America are as hard to pin down as Henry Adams. A scion of the renowned Adams family of presidents and statesmen, Adams struggled with the privilege this position granted him his entire life. Though he was a believer in the tenets of democracy that his ancestors had put in place, he was a committed skeptic of democracy’s survival in the face of corruption and cultural malaise; he inveighed against American capitalism and financial opportunism, though he was also content to support himself with steady earnings from the stock market. As Adams grew older, he retreated further and further into pessimism and intellectual solitude, taking as his moral and aesthetic lodestar thirteenth-century Europe—a passion he described eloquently in his book Mont Saint Michel and Chartres (1904). A flawed and conflicted man Adams surely was, but he was also an undeniably gifted writer on everything from early American history to Gothic architecture. His fascinating life and bemusing neuroses track the broader decline of an old American aristocracy that was quickly giving way to the burgeoning nouveau riche of the Gilded Age. Jonathan Parry tells more of Adams’s story and reviews a new biography on the man for London Review of Books.
“The Iranian kings who thought the world revolved around them”
Matthew P. Canepa, Apollo Magazine
Just as the heritage of the Roman Empire was cultivated by subsequent, aspirant empires of the West to attempt to gain legitimacy, so too was the golden age of Sasanian Iran (224–651 A.D.) invoked by empires of the East, from the Ottomans in Turkey to the Mughals in India. In anticipation of an exhibition that will soon open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Matthew P. Canepa gives a fantastically detailed summary for Apollo of the glories and eccentricities of over four hundred years of Sasanian rule at the crossroads of the Middle and Far East.
Arundel Castle is the historic seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and the Howard family, one of the most storied and longest-lasting lines in English history. Until recently, visitors to the castle grounds had a small but invaluable window into the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, whose co-conspirator in the Ridolfi Plot and potential fiancé was Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. One of Mary’s only surviving artifacts, a set of rosary beads she carried to her execution, was kept in a glass case at the castle until its disappearance in a robbery late last Friday night, as BBC News reports. The hope now is that the absconders have some sense of the artifact’s true historical and monetary value, and that the piece will be recovered rather than be melted down for bullion.
“Music for a While #45: Spring, sprung, sung.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“A comedy of errors,” by Anthony Daniels. On W. W. Jacobs, the British short story writer of humor & horror.