Hilton Kramer is editor of The New Criterion and author, most recently, of The Twilight of the Intellectuals. Roger Kimball is managing editor of The New Criterion and author of The Long March, Experiments Against Reality, and Tenured Radicals. Together Messrs. Kramer and Kimball have also edited The Future of the European Past, and The Betrayal of Liberalism.
It would be a shame if the audience for this collection were confined to New Criterion subscribers. Broadminded readers will find an illuminating perspective in many of the 44 pieces culled from the magazine's past half-dozen years. Not everyone will, or should, like everything in this collection: e.g., Donald Lyon's review of ``Angels in America'' is likely to anger some; Maurice Cowling's consideration of Raymond Williams will be of limited interest to others. In pieces grouped into loose headings like ``The Arts Today'' or ``The Academy in the Age of Political Correctness,'' David Fromkin, John Gross, Donald Kagan, John Simon, Joseph Epstein, New Criterion editors Kimball and Kramer, late publisher Samuel Lipman and others write about the fate of the museum; the Sobol Report on New York state's history and social-studies curricula; T.E. Lawrence; John Corigliano's 1991 opera The Ghosts of Versailles; teaching Henry James; and much more. In these and broader essays, they particularly rail against the pursuit of philosophy without truth; against great lives deprived of their greatness; against visual art abstracted from the object, demonstrating that what is left is often meaningless rhetoric. Occasionally, writers indulge in a bit of bombast themselves (sometimes to undeniably funny effect as in Kimball's discussion of Michel Foucault's fame in American universities ``where hermetic arguments about sex and power are pursued with risible fecklessness by the hirsute and untidy''), but even when one disagrees with their positions, one still has to admire the grace and erudition with which they are presented. (Mar.)
These insightful essays are perhaps the best examples of how discussing a timely subject can open up timeless vistas on a perennial problem. * Virginia Quarterly Review * Upholds the highest civilized standards in our culture...no one who reads this volume can be in any doubt what the cultural war in the U.S. is all about, or who ought to win. -- Paul Johnson, Bowling Green State University * The Wall Street Journal * This is an immensely literate collection...full of controversy and opinion. It is sure to provoke, instruct, amuse and raise hackles. -- Andrea Barnet * The New York Times *