Nothing in the recent antics of American publishing has been quite as spectacular, or quite as revealing, as the swift and ignominious collapse of the new Vanity Fair just as the magazine’s third issue was reaching disgruntled subscribers in the last week of April. It was already apparent in February, when the inaugural (March) issue made its appearance, that something had gone seriously wrong with this project to revive a magazine that had become something of a myth in publishing circles since it suspended publication nearly half a century ago. With the second issue in hand in late March, all curiosity and suspense shifted from the magazine itself—which was clearly a flop—to whatever strategy its owners, the Condé Nast organization, might devise to save some face and salvage what it could from the wreckage of the operation. The end came on April 26 with the announcement that Leo Lerman would...


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