In 1923, early in the career of The Criterion, T. S. Eliot wrote that
it is the function of a literary review to maintain the autonomy and disinterestedness of literature, and at the same time to exhibit the relations of literature—not to “life,” as something contrasted to literature, but to all the other activities, which, together with literature, are the components of life.
Eliot noted that the focus of such a review would be “not merely on literature, but on what we suppose to be the interests of any intelligent person with literary taste,” that is to say, on the realm of culture writ large. Eliot’s dual ambition—to protect the native freedom of art and culture while at the same time fostering their manifold attachments and responsibilities—has also always been at the center of our ambition at The New Criterion.
Today, as in the Twenties, this work of culture is a speciality enterprise, indispensable to the pulse of independent criticism but impossible without the collaboration of readers who support the vocation of culture. The New Criterion has always been fortunate in its supporters, and, as we complete our twenty-second year of publication, we would like to salute all those who have made our endeavors possible. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Sarah Scaife Foundation form the triumvirate that has sustained The New Criterion since its inception. Without their steadfast support, the The New Criterion would simply not have been possible. The Olin Foundation will soon be closing its doors, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Foundation’s Trustees and its Executive Director, James Piereson, for their friendship and support over the course of more than two decades. Visionaries at the Olin Foundation helped to create The New Criterion in 1982; their successors helped to nurture it for almost a quarter century.
The passing of the Olin Foundation will have a profound effect on American cultural life. Together with the Bradley and Scaife Foundations, the Olin Foundation has been that rarest of rare institutions: an essential supporter of conservative initiatives in the realm of culture and ideas. As of this writing, no individual or institution has stepped forward to take its place. The end of the Olin Foundation would probably have meant the end of The New Criterion were it not for two critical intercessions. One was the formation of the Friends of The New Criterion, a group that over the past few years has grown to become an integral part of our activities. We would like to thank all of our Friends, in particular those who helped us with special events over the course of this past year. The second intercession is the work of Donald Kahn, a man whose philanthropic activities have sustained many important cultural institutions, including The New Criterion. We are immensely grateful for Mr. Kahn’s long-term friendship and support. He has made it possible for us to forge ahead with the best cultural review in English.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 22 Number 10, on page 4
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