Synopses & Reviews
This is the first hard-cover anthology offered by The New York Review of Books since the first issue was published in 1963. For thirty years, The New York Review has been publishing essays by some of the world's best writers; this volume gathers together twenty-three of those essays. The articles include political commentary, such as reflections on the devastation of Vietnam, Dwight Macdonald's visit to President Johnson's 1965 White House arts festival, and Andrei Sakharov's historic essay "How I Came to Dissent". Among the more personal accounts in the anthology are Gore Vidal's portrait of Amelia Earhart, a close friend of his father; Oliver Sacks's story of breaking his leg on a Norwegian mountain top, and Primo Levi's memoir of his last Christmas imprisoned at Auschwitz. Some of the essays foreshadow contemporary events: Elizabeth Hardwick's moving report on the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1966, and Hannah Arendt's "Reflections on Violence", which examines a "century of wars and revolution", written in 1969. Others, such as Susan Sontag's "On Photography" and Joan Didion's "In El Salvador", led to books that have since become widely known. Essays on art include Robert Hughes's criticism of the vogue for Andy Warhol and John Richardson's review of the 1980 Picasso retrospective ("a retrospective to end all retrospectives"). Among essays on literature and music are Robert Lowell's on Sylvia Plath, V.S. Pritchett's on Balzac, Richard Ellmann's on "Joyce at 100", Pierre Boulez's on Mahler, and Igor Stravinsky's (with Robert Craft) on Beethoven. W.H. Auden reviews Oliver Sacks's first book, Migraine, Gabriele Annan evokes the Berlin origins of Marlene Dietrich, Isaiah Berlin writes onAlexander Herzen, and Jonathan Lieberson on Karl Popper, Joseph Brodsky recalls his friendship with Nadezhda Mandelstam, and Bruce Chatwin gives a chilling portrait of the novelist Ernst Junger as a German officer in occupied Paris.
Table of Contents
A day at the White House / Dwight Macdonald -- After Watts / Elizabeth Hardwick -- On two poets / Robert Lowell ; "Lesbos" by Sylvia Plath -- A Buddhist poet in Vietnam / Thich Nhat Hanh -- The great amateur / Isaiah Berlin -- Reflections on violence / Hannah Arendt -- Eau de vie / Igor Stravinsky with Robert Craft -- The megrims / W.H. Auden -- Balzac at thirty / V.S. Pritchett -- On photography / Susan Sontag -- How I came to dissent / Andrei D. Sakharov -- Mahler now / Pierre Boulez -- Your show of shows / John Richardson -- An aesthete at war / Bruce Chatwin -- Nadezhda Mandelstam / Joseph Brodsky -- The rise of Andy Warhol / Robert Hughes -- In El Salvador / Joan Didion -- Joyce at 100 / Richard Ellmann -- The 'truth' of Karl Popper / Jonathan Lieberson -- The bull on the mountain / Oliver Sacks -- Girl from Berlin / Gabriele Annan -- Love of flying / Gore Vidal -- Last Christmas of the war / Primo Levi.