Recent links of note:
“ ‘Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings From the Dutch Golden Age’ Review: The Sea’s Significance”
Karen Wilkin, The Wall Street Journal
The seventeenth-century Golden Age of Dutch art flowed from the same source as its trade empire: the sea. An exhibition at the National Gallery of Art shows the depth and breadth of maritime themes in the Dutch imagination. Artists like Rembrandt van Rijn and Willem van de Velde the Younger painted seascapes in their variable seasons and moods: from summer to winter, from calm to storm. Although often viewed as mere genre scenes, Karen Wilkin claims that the paintings display an attention to detail and an effective evocation of the drama of the high seas that make them valuable for more than their themes. The exhibition, which features more than twenty paintings, a collection of engravings, drawings, and etchings, and (sure to be the highlight) five ship models, will be on view until November 25. Watch for a review of “Water, Wind, and Waves” in an upcoming issue of The New Criterion.
“Simone Weil’s Deeper Grace”
Scott Beauchamp, The American Conservative
“The habit of attention . . . is the substance of prayer,” Simone Weil wrote in her famous and provocative essay “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.” This sort of deceptively simple, koan-like insight is both the joy and the challenge of understanding Weil, a French philosopher whose reputation continues to grow—for her life as much as her writing. Weil, born in 1909 to a Parisian Jewish family, experienced in 1937 a dramatic conversion to Christianity that gave rise to the mystical strains in her thought. But she remained fiercely dedicated to the world: she died in 1943 of tuberculosis exacerbated by a starvation diet meant to match the rations of soldiers in the French Resistance. For Weil, the path to God was always through the fallen world. A new sampling of her work, Love in the Void (Plough Publishing), will guide readers through her absorbing philosophy.
James Bowman, The Weekly Standard
There is nothing new under the sun, and Michael Robertson’s newest book is just another revolution around the fading light of utopianism, according to James Bowman. In The Last Utopians (Princeton University Press), Robertson traces the legacy of four Victorian-era utopians: Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Although the fictional worlds they created were unrealistic, their characters wooden, and the ideas that drove their work hopelessly naive, Robertson admires the utopians for their willingness to believe in “the possibility of other, better worlds.” Bowman, however, suggests that attempts to build an ideal world can be destructive to the real one. Utopianism may be old news, but it keeps coming around again.
From our pages:
“Greatness in Salzburg (plus rain)”