Recent links of note:

“The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar”
Jack Hitt, The New York Times

Producing the definitive edition of James Joyce’s much-disputed Ulysses would send any scholar straight to literary stardom. Many have tried, but none got so close as John Kidd, the former director of the James Joyce Research Center at Boston University. But in the late 1980s, on the brink of publishing what promised to be one of the most electrifying scholarly texts of the century, he did something much more alarming—he disappeared. The New York Times’s Jack Hitt decided to search for Kidd: did the quest for the perfect Ulysses break the scholar, or was the former professor on a journey of his own? Kidd’s story is a perfect prelude to this year’s Bloomsday on June 16, the date the events of Ulysses take place. For more on Joyce, read The New Criterion’s interview with Nola Tully, the author of “Ulysses Bores Me So: First Reactions to Joyce’s Masterpiece,” and Dominic Green’s review of Vivien Igoe’s The Real People of Joyce’s Ulysses.

“Interview with John Elderfield on ‘Cézanne Portraits’ at the National Gallery of Art”
Phong Bui, Brooklyn Rail

In her review of the National Gallery’s “Cézanne Portraits” in The New Criterion’s May issue, Karen Wilkin noted the “tension and anxiety” evident in Cézanne’s portraiture, which is less known than his still lifes and landscapes. Now, John Elderfield, who co-curated the exhibit, interprets Cézanne’s seemingly unfinished portraits as evidence of the artist’s characteristic intensity in an interview with Brooklyn Rail. “Cézanne records a face without interpreting,” Elderfield says. But Cézanne always worked with precision and unflagging attention to his subject: Maurice Merleau-Ponty said that, for Cézanne, a still life painting took about one hundred sittings, but a portrait required around 150. Elderfield’s interview brings depth to the artist’s personality and work: “I do not think that Cézanne was in pursuit of perfection,” Elderfield says. “It was rather a pursuit of order, which acknowledged the existence of the unordered.”

“A natural ally”
Michael Caines, Times Literary Supplement

The religious art of William Blake, the English Romantic poet and mystical thinker, may seem an unlikely inspiration for the entrance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, a 1930s Art Deco building that aims to express the greatness of the American enterprise. But Rockefeller Center, which upon its debut was sneeringly called “romantic,” is evidence of Blake’s little-acknowledged influence in the America of his time and ours. In 1793, Blake wrote the lengthy “America: A Prophecy,” in which he propounds his own “myth of America.” A forthcoming study by Linda Freedman suggests that Blake was a “natural ally” of American Romantics like Emerson, and later of Whitman and Ginsberg, who used religious imagery and rhetoric to write America’s own Songs of Innocence and Experience. For more on Blake’s popularity in American music and poetry, read Daniel Mark Epstein’s New Criterion essay “The two William Blakes.”

From our pages:

“The GWOA?”
Jay Nordlinger