Chronicles Magazine September 1996

Battles of the Books

Ours is not the first age to have experienced a struggle for curriculum. On the contrary. There has never been a time in the past 150 years when the progressives have not been chipping away and undermining what had been a coherent classical...

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  • VIEWS

    Don't Give Us India

    "Don't give us India," Samuel Johnson once told Boswell, when the talk was about how widely mankind differed in its view of chastity and polygamy. Montesquieu, he said, the great pioneer of anthropology, was in many wavs a fellow of genius.

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  • VIEWS

    The Portable Shakespeare

    Nothing new here, really. Nothing that hasn't been hashed and rehashed by my betters, the true scholars and critics whose faithful quest for knowledge has sometimes ended in earned wisdom for all of us.

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  • VIEWS

    The Unbanable Book

    A recent full-page advertisement in the Chicago Tribune, which no longer calls itself "The World's Greatest Newspaper," listed four documents that supposedly are foundational: the Magna Carta, the Treaty of Versailles, the Declaration of...

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  • Principalities & Powers

    Conspiracy

    History, wrote Voltaire, is the sound of wooden shoes running up the backstairs and of silken slippers running down—a remark that implies that the real story of high politics is never what we are able to see but always a tale hidden from public...

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  • REVIEWS

    Rediscovering Philadelphia

    The theme that unites the short, somewhat disparate eight chapters of this book is the use by the Supreme Court of unenumerated rights—that is, rights beyond those specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights—to invalidate state laws.

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  • REVIEWS

    Indispensable Petrarch

    By far the greater part of the Canzoniere, however, is devoted to his unconsummated love for Laura. But for Petrarch, love was closer to Christian cartias than to sexual desire, and even before her death his love poems take on an increasingly...

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  • REVIEWS

    Science on Parade

    In this large and well-padded book, Carl Sagan promotes a vulgar scientism: the notion that science and its method provide the solutions to virtually all human problems and serve as the ultimate guide for human behavior.

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  • REVIEWS

    The Story of Love

    Octavio Paz, who was 82 when he wrote this book, asks in his preface, "Wasn't it a little ridiculous, at the end of my days, to write a book about love?" The answer is a resounding "no."

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  • REVIEWS

    Hard Lives, Hard Times

    The life of country people, the Kentucky poet-farmer Wendell Berry has observed, is marked by a surprising complexity. To be successful it requires deep knowledge of the land, of the seasons in their time, of plants and animals.

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  • VITAL SIGNS

    New Criticism, Old Values

    It was in 1942 that John Crowe Ransom coined the phrase "The New Criticism" by publishing a book under that title, a book about the most respected literary critics of the first half of the century, notably T.S. Eliot, LA. Richards, William...

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  • VITAL SIGNS

    Remembering Casals

    Talking to musicians or composers has its values, but it seldom adds much to what we know of music. Mozart's letters to his father give you a few insights into the creative process, but Beethoven's are merely a peep into his psyche.

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  • Polemics & Exchanges

    On Paganism

    As an Orthodox monk, I imagine Alain de Benoist performing his daily orisons before an icon by Gauguin, chanting selections from Diderot's Supplément au voyage de Bougainville as his Psalter, and reading passages from Rousseau as the appointed...

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  • Polemics & Exchanges

    On Christianity and the State

    Philip Jenkins' tactful and balanced review of Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore's The Godless Constitution gives credit to the authors' attention to detail but fails to take note of their tendentious tendency to mislead their readers about...

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