Recent links of note:
“Make it sound musical: Rediscovering an English symbolist”
Ben Wilkinson, Times Literary Supplement
I was unfamiliar with the English poet Walter de la Mare (1873–1954) until a couple of years ago, when I received a postcard with an illustration from Love, a 1943 collection of the writer’s verse and prose. Intrigued by his French-sounding name, I snatched up a pink Faber & Faber volume and was plunged into a world where bloodthirsty ogres experience pangs of remorse, ravens order the building of their own tombs, and lone woodland travellers stumble upon haunted houses. While the Modernist champion F. R. Leavis dismissed de la Mare’s poetry as a mere “world of dreams, nourished upon memories of childhood,” Ben Wilkinson, reviewing a new collection of annotated poems titled Reading Walter de la Mare in the Times Literary Supplement, argues that the poet’s best work gives the lie to the “false distinction between conservative formalism and modern experiment” as the “persuasive musicality” of his verse freshens his fairytale subject matter. De la Mare was also a sensitive, if overlooked, literary critic—on a rainy day, those with TLS subscriptions should skim through the publication’s archives for his own essays on other imaginative writers such as Edgar Allen Poe.
“Has a long-lost painting by Artemisia finally come to light?”
Jesse Locker, Apollo
Jesse Locker, a specialist in Italian art, believes that a painting said to be a copy of a work by the seventeenth-century Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi is in fact the original, which was long thought to be lost. Writing for Apollo, Locker explains how she determined that the oil painting Penitent Mary Magdalene (1625–26), which resides in a private American collection, should no longer be classed alongside copies of the painting in Seville Cathedral and the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City. Citing the “characteristically subtle interaction of light and shadow in the treatment of the Magdalene’s neck” as well as the treatment of lace and drapery, Locker found striking similarities between the painting and another by Gentileschi in the Detroit Institute of Art, Judith and her Maidservant (1623–25), including a near-identical curtain and tassel hanging behind both Mary Magdalene and Judith.
“What Makes an American Hero?”
Adam Kirsch, The Wall Street Journal
At a time when the question of who counts as a hero can feel “inescapably political,” The New Criterion’s poetry editor, Adam Kirsch, reminds us of the ordinary figures whose bravery has inspired Americans since the Revolution. As Kirsch explains in an essay for The Wall Street Journal, America produced “a new kind of democratic heroism, in which firefighters can be greater than princes, and glory and power matter less than moral courage and sacrifice.” In the long run traits like responsibility and maturity matter much more to Americans than lineage or rank—Martin Van Buren was president when Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were enslaved, but whom do we remember today? In this wide-ranging article, Kirsch contrasts the American concept of heroism with that of ancient Greece and discusses why Americans prefer “reluctant fighters and principled everymen” to flying aces and aristocrats.
“Roger Kimball introduces the October issue.” A new podcast from the Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion.
“An extract, a legacy,” by Jay Nordlinger. On an aria by the late Carlisle Floyd.