Recent links of note:

“The point of the pointe”
Zoë Anderson, The Wall Street Journal

Laura Jacobs puts ballet criticism en pointe with Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet, a history of the art form and introduction to its technique for amateurs and enthusiasts, published last month. Jacobs, a novelist, journalist, and critic, has reviewed dance performances for The New Criterionsince 1994, and is an expert guide to ballet since its beginnings in the fifteenth century, through its boom in the 1960s, to a current burgeoning interest in balancing classical and modern styles. The question of ballet’s future, according to both Jacobs and the Journal’s Zoë Anderson, is uncertain: the passing of a mid–twentieth-century generation of superstars (think Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine, and Margot Fonteyn) left the ballet world spinning. But Jacobs gives both new fans and aficionados a solid footing on which to appreciate the form. For more on ballet from The New Criterion, read Jacobs’s essay on Balanchine and Jay Nordlinger’s blog post on Don Quixote at the American Ballet Theatre, and Karen Wilkin’s review of Celestial Bodies, forthcoming this September in The New Criterion.

 “Frick’s fourth expansion plan gets green light”
Victoria Stapley-Brown, The Art Newspaper

The New York Landmarks Preservation Committee voted to approve a revised expansion plan for the Frick Collection on East Seventieth Street in Manhattan. Converted from a private residence in 1935, the museum was renovated and expanded in 1977 and 2011, but the last major refurbishment plan hit a wall when community members opposed the destruction of a garden designed by Russell Page in 1977. The current plan will alter, but not destroy, the garden. But some now hesitate over the destruction of the music room, despite Selldorf Architects’ contention that “art is the Frick’s primary mission” and that there is “historic precedent for modifying rooms to create galleries.” The expansions will include more gallery and office space, along with updates to the façade and garden areas.

 “Snapshots of Muriel Spark”
Margaret Drabble, The Times Literary Supplement

Muriel Spark’s creative fires kept burning through a long career: the Scottish-born author (1918–2006) wrote twenty-two novels and many more short stories in more than fifty years of writing. Now a centenary editions of her novels from Polygon provides a comprehensive view of Spark’s luminous and incendiary body of work. In works as wide-ranging as her early acknowledged classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), the thriller The Driver’s Seat (1970), and the autobiographical A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), she depicts suffering, sin, and perversion in characters still somehow searching for the divine. Spark is often compared to Graham Greene and Flannery O’Connor for frank look at Catholicism (she converted after a personal crisis in 1954); like these authors, her portrayal of fellow believers is the opposite of hagiographic (Frank Kermode called the religious elements in her fiction “bafflingly idiosyncratic”). Spark’s work arranges a jarring marriage of the earthy and the ethereal: in a review of the 1992 memoir Curriculum Vitae, our own Roger Kimball found a “disturbing ‘otherworldly’ quality” with whom few twentieth-century writers can compete in terms of “depth and psychological complexity.”

From our pages:

“Rodin takes on the Parthenon”
Joseph Kang