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Remembering My First Bryn Mawr Book Sale and a Man Who Was Interested in Everything

My early and invincible love of reading I would not exchange for all the riches of India. —Edward Gibbon I bought no books at my first Bryn Mawr Book Sale,…

Living in Dostoevsky: Joseph Frank’s Acclaimed Biography Was Born in Princeton

In Beat Generation scripture Carl Solomon asks Allen Ginsberg, “Who are you?” to which Ginsberg instantly replies, “I’m Prince Myshkin,” asking the same of Solomon, who says, unhesitatingly, “I’m Kirilov.”…

“Darconville’s Cat”: The Power and Glory of Vengeance Writ Fantastically Large

If this column were a film, I’d begin with a close-up of Robert Mitchum’s hands in Night of the Hunter (1955), where he plays a psychopathic preacher who has LOVE…

“Double Indemnity’s” Seven Oscar Nominations Helped Ignite the Film Noir Boom

While channel-surfing the other night, I found myself watching the beginning of a film I’d already seen and had no intention of seeing again. That’s Fred MacMurray slumped at a…

As Grand Central Marks 100 Years, New York Deserves a Lifetime Achievement Oscar

People on their busy way across Grand Central’s main concourse the evening of February 1 stopped and looked up, struck by the sudden appearance of rows of lights dancing in…

Struggling Couples, Silly Love Songs, and a Valentine’s Day Conception

Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs …. —Paul McCartney from “Silly Love Songs” By all rights, George Stevens’s 1941 film Penny Serenade should be to Valentine’s…

It’s for Real — Observations on Love, “Homeland,” and “Downton Abbey”

Last week people all over the country were in mourning for Downton Abbey’s Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay). The brutal, shocking demise from postpartum eclampsia of the youngest and most…

A Birthday Schubertiad Featuring Janowitz and Gage, Goethe’s Mignon, and Nora the Cat

Wilhelm followed every movement of the dear little creature, and felt surprised to see how finely her character unfolded itself as she proceeded in the dance …. At this moment…

A New Translation of “Werther” Opens the Gate to Goethe

Wilhelm, what is the world to our heart without love? What a magic lantern is without light! —from The Sufferings  of Young Werther Bear with me please while I imagine…

On Nixon’s 100th Birthday: Charisma Had Nothing To Do With It

I’ve never been one of those charisma nuts …. I think one of the curses of the modern television age is that it puts far too much attention on appearance…