Now largely forgotten, Karl Kraus was one of the most incisive and provocative cultural commentators of early twentieth-century Vienna. He's also a literary hero of Jonathan Franzen, one of the most successful American novelists active today. In his ambitious latest book, Franzen sets out to recover the forgotten Kraus for contemporary readers. But his interest isn't simply historical: he also hopes to show that Kraus has a cure for the problems of our postmodern condition. Does he succeed? Marion Gabl reviews the effort.
Jonathan D. Price
The Clarion's œnologist – nay, œnologian
-in-residence returns to the southwest of l'héxagone
for this latest edition of Clarion Vines.
Jonathan D. Price
The first wine to be subjected to the exacting palate of Executive Editor J.D. Price is a 2010 Château Talbot. Here you'll find insights (and in-scents) into the character of this admirable Bordeaux, which emerged for a 35-hour tryst in a chilly autumn in Warsaw after four years of patient anticipation, as well as tips on when best to enjoy.
Our poems, songs, and tales give us a sense that there is continuity in history and that we fit into it. But what sort of continuity? And what, if anything, should we do
about it? In The Brothers Karamazov
, Dostoevsky grapples with some of the most compelling meta-narratives that have ever shaped our experience of life as temporal beings.
A review of Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists
Not long ago Starbucks sandwich boards advised us to “Take comfort in ritual”—in this case the diurnal rites of lattés and Frappucinos. It’s clear enough that the Giant of Joe benefits from regular patronage, but less clear is why recommending ritual might not be off-putting to a clientele whose apple of wisdom is to “think different.” Ritual is religious (or is thought to be) and is therefore considered wholly personal. Most Westerners tend to regard its presence in public space with suspicion.
A review of Rob Rieman's Nobility of Spirit.
Joseph Bottum in the New Criterion
has commented ably on some of the strengths and the signal weaknesses of Rieman’s book. My concerns here are not intended to overlap substantially with Bottum’s. Indeed, both Riemen’s and Bottum’s observations are well taken. By now, the demise of civilization (whatever this word may mean) is perhaps the greatest cliché among intellectuals everywhere. Mass society, especially perhaps of the American variety, is likely the most perturbing. The eminent Jacques Barzun has had the last word on this grand lament.
By Nathan G. Jennings
A review of Gavin Flood's The Ascetic Self
What does asceticism have to do with the formation of religious subjectivity? Can asceticism provide a point of comparison between religions? Gavin Flood, in his excellent new volume, The Ascetic Self, answers these questions with the thesis that asceticism is “the internalization of tradition, the shaping of the narrative of a life in accordance with the narrative of tradition that might be seen as the performance of the memory of tradition” (p. ix). Flood treats the literature on asceticism that has accumulated over the past twenty years or so.
Peter Augustine Lawler
It’s my pleasure to be able to introduce Nalin Ranasinghe’s Socrates and the Underworld: On Plato’s Gorgias
to you as one of the most able, eloquent, noble, profound, and loving books ever written on Socrates. Ranasinghe restores for us the example of a moral hero who inaugurated a moral revolution in opposition to his country’s post-imperial cynicism and nihilism. What Socrates discovered about the human soul remains true for us in our similarly cynical and nihilistic time. Here’s the truth:
A review of Is Jesus the Only Savior?
by James R. Edwards (Eerdmans, 2005).
Studies have shown that Christian youth are just as likely as their secular, non-believing peers to agree with the statement, “everything is relative.” They may have a deep relationship with Christ and a clear understanding of the basic tenets of Christian orthodoxy, and yet believe simultaneously (and without feeling any cognitive dissonance) that Christ is but one of many paths to God.
A review of Edmund Campion: A Life
by Evelyn Waugh (Ignatius Press, 2005 [First published by Longmans, 1935])
That the undisputed master of dark humor and satire should have produced what is arguably the most compelling short biography of a saint to date is perhaps even more extraordinary than the claim that, today, both the biography and its author deserve close attention. Indeed, few means serve better to confront the hollow relativism of our age than turning to the conversion of Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) and the life of Edmund Campion (1540-1581), the saintly subject of his 1935 book.
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