Recent links of note: 

“An Incendiary Plan for Notre Dame Cathedral”
Michael J. Lewis, The Wall Street Journal

A sum totaling just under a billion dollars has been collected from over 340,000 international donors to fund the restoration of Nôtre Dame de Paris after the devastating fire that consumed the cathedral’s roof in April 2019. Many donated under the assumption that the cathedral would be restored as closely as possible to the way it looked pre-conflagration, but soon after the fire Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said that it would be rebuilt in a way “that bears the mark of our time.” Architects began dreaming up a host of designs that included, among other things, a rooftop greenhouse and swimming pool. While the most outlandish suggestions were (mercifully) quashed, the latest proposal unveiled by the advisor to the archbishop of Paris has traditionalists reeling. As it stands, the invisible roof truss would replicate the original, but the visible cathedral interior would instead contain a “catechumenal path” of Renaissance paintings paired with pieces of contemporary art, while phrases in various languages would be projected on the walls around them. In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Michael J. Lewis compares the proposal to a theme-park design and argues that to project digital images onto the cathedral interior “is to throw away the happy convergence of structure, space and light that is the cathedral’s great asset.”

“First major Donatello exhibition in nearly 40 years to open in Florence”
Christina Ruiz, The Art Newspaper

Donatello’s bronze sculpture David (ca. 1435–40), now held at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence, was the first freestanding male nude sculpture created since antiquity. While Michaelangelo portrayed David as a muscular young man in his more famous marble version of 1504, with Goliath notably absent, Donatello depicted the future king as a young boy standing with a foot on the severed head of his foe. As it is displayed today, positioned just above eye level, Donatello’s David can appear almost sheepish, but the bronze was in fact designed to stand on a tall pedestal in the courtyard of the Medici Palace. At this height, David’s expression is “transformed into the triumphant attitude of a hero gazing down at the Florentine public,” according to Francesco Caglioti, the curator of a major new Donatello exhibition opening at Palazzo Strozzi and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello next September. Caglioti hopes to display the sculpture at its original height alongside some 130 works revealing Donatello’s impact on contemporaries such as Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Mantegna, and Bellini and later Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Da Vinci.

“Debut novel by ‘Russian Proust’ to be published in English for the first time”
Alison Flood, The Guardian

Also coming out next year, in May, is the first English translation of Yuri Felsen’s novel Deceit, published originally in Russian in 1930. Considered a “Russian Proust” by his contemporaries, the St. Petersburg–born Felsen emigrated to Paris in 1923 in the wake of the Russian Revolution. Two decades later, he found himself trapped in Nazi-occupied France. Unable to make a planned escape to Switzerland, Yelsen, who was Jewish, was killed in February 1943 in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. After his death, his manuscripts disappeared and his work fell into obscurity. Bryan Karetnyk, a translator who specializes in Russian émigré writers such as Gaito Gazdanov, has turned his pen to Yelsen’s diaristic love story for Prototype Publishing in hopes of introducing this anti-totalitarian writer to English audiences.

Podcast:

“Music for a While #55: Nuts.”Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music

Dispatch:

“Aiming for the skies” by Leann Davis Alspaugh. On “Skyscraper Gothic” at the Fralin Museum of Art, Virginia.

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