"Before heading to the US, Emmanuel Macron denounced 'authoritarian democracy,' but praised 'the authority of democracy.' After his first year in office, the French are finding that the difference between these two concepts is sometimes very thin," writes Mathieu Magnaudeix.
Michael Wood on the dreams of Vladimir Nabokov
"Some seventy years after the first immigrants from the Caribbean arrived on British shores, the 'Windrush generation' has returned to the center of attention in Britain—not this time in a spirit of optimism and hope but of hurt and anger," writes Colin Grant.
An Open Letter, signed by Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem, and others: "By accepting Turkey’s attack, the US has become complicit in President Erdoğan’s explicit ethnic cleansing plan to expel the Kurds from a part of Syria where they have lived for centuries, and to eradicate the democratic experiment developing in Rojava."
"Because the Trump administration has argued that the Supreme Court must blindly defer to the president, the dispute equally concerns the very role of the court in the separation of powers," writes David Cole. This week the Supreme Court hears arguments in a challenge to the third and latest version of the travel ban.
Madeleine Schwartz reviews ‘The Mars Room,’ the third novel by Rachel Kushner.
"Like a child who creates a medieval castle from a cardboard box, photographer Ralph Gibson uses humble, everyday subjects—a pen, a shoe, a glass, a spoon, a mirror, a chair—to create dramatic and cinematic scenes," writes Carole Naggar of a new book of Gibson's photographs.
Freeman Dyson reviews Geoffrey West’s book ‘Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies’
Alia Malek writes, "What does it mean to raise a family or to grow up under constant surveillance? Assia Boundaoui, who grew up in a predominantly Muslim community in Chicago, is now a journalist, and examines the effect of living under constant surveillance in her first documentary, 'The Feeling of Being Watched,' which premieres today at the Tribeca Film Festival."
Although Donald Trump regularly attacks the attorney general on Twitter, no cabinet member has been more diligent and single-minded than Jeff Sessions in pursuing Trump’s policies, writes David Cole. “The department has become an obstacle to criminal justice reform, an opponent of equal rights for LGBT individuals, and a champion of voter suppression, religious discrimination, and interference with reproductive choice. What more could Trump want?”
Our series on 1968 continues with Mitchell Abidor: "The year was the definitive proof, if such were still needed, that the French Communist Party (PCF) had no interest in seizing power through revolution. But it also demonstrated that in this, the PCF was the perfect image of the class it represented, and vice versa."
Novelist Marcia Douglas writes: "There is a word Jamaicans use for home—'yard.' In Jamaica talk, 'yard' refers to one’s living space, but may also refer to the whole island. But is home still home, even if your parents advise that you not return?"
Will Trump talk to Kim? Jessica T. Mathews, distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, considers the prospects for a summit meeting with North Korea: “Diplomacy is agonizingly slow, frustrating, and generally productive of less than perfect results. The trick is to know when every other option is worse.”
Paul Quinn-Judge reviews ‘The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution’ by Marci Shore and ‘Near Abroad: Putin, the West, and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus’ by Gerard Toal
Anthony Spaeth writes, "What seems very likely is that Trump’s particular American brand of conservatism, now bolstered by the appointment of hard-liners—Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser—will collide with the liberal ideology of South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his Korean allies. "
"Shinzo Abe’s approval rating has sunk to 26.7 percent, the lowest since he took office in 2012. His party—and voters in general—face the question of whether the price of keeping him on outweighs the positive effects of his tenure," writes Sarah Birke.
"'Did they beat you up?' my son asked when I finally got home. Just as my father had refused to tell us what he saw in the torture rooms of Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat, I didn’t tell my son everything I had witnessed in detention or at the protest that day," writes Hoshang Waziri.
"On the evening that I first walked out of Steve DiBenedetto’s new exhibition of paintings, I looked up at the navy sky, down the asphalt street, and felt dizzy with euphoria," writes Dan Nadel.
"Lucrecia Martel’s film Zama offers a passionately informed and intuitive reading that is at once a reply and a carrying forward, a fusion that brings Antonio Di Benedetto’s novel into entirely new territory," writes Esther Allen.
Claudia Dreifus interviews Art Spiegelman, who says, "I’ve had therapy, and I’ve made comics. The comics are cheaper."
"For all Mark Zuckerberg’s mea culpas and the promises to think more carefully and give users more control over their privacy, surveillance is woven into Facebook’s DNA, and surveillance capitalism is its raison d’être," writes Jennifer Cobbe.
Molly Crabapple writes, "After the looting of Afrin and its ethnic cleansing of Kurds by Turkish-backed militias, Turkey’s intent to resettle refugees in territory it has seized from Syrian Kurdish forces is one of the Syrian civil war’s more cynical attempts to reshape the country’s demography, using desperate civilians as pawns."
"Israel’s goal is clear: a single state containing two peoples, only one of which has citizenship and civil rights," writes Michael Sfard. "Its lawyers are busy giving their counsel, drafting laws, and defending the Israel's efforts to expand the jurisdiction of its law and administration beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines to serve the interests of Jewish settlers at the expense of the occupied Palestinians, whose civil rights are suspended. Annexation is underway, but out of the spotlight, away from international attention."
Why do mirrors appear so often in Victorian paintings? "Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites suggests an answer," writes Jenny Uglow.
Malise Ruthven: "The 'big beautiful wall' promised by Donald Trump is already a thing of the past, a technology superseded by new electronic barriers being built along the US-Mexico border. His prototype sections of wall should stand as material testaments to outdated, empty rhetoric."
Lindsey Hilsum, international editor of Britain’s Channel 4 News, reviews four books about reporting on the war in Syria, where 115 journalists have been killed since 2011. With the ubiquity of social media and smartphones, what is the future of conflict reporting, why is it still important for correspondents to be there, and what should be their role? “The era of the star war correspondent who can stand in front of a camera and talk fluently while things go bang all around may be coming to an end,” she writes.
Claire Messud on the life and writing of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Francine Prose on the latest theater piece by The Wooster Group, now at REDCAT in Los Angeles and coming soon to The Performing Garage in New York
Judith Shulevitz begins her series "Forgotten Feminisms" with an 1825 tract by William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler: "They had a precocious critique of equality feminism. Even in a society in which women had access to all the same educational and professional opportunities as men—a society that had never existed when they were writing and is today only partially realized—women would still fall behind, they said."
Theoretical physicist Jeremy Bernstein writes, "What happens if there is no agreement? Most experts estimate that it would be a matter of months before the Iranians built their first bomb. The degree of chaos and danger this would introduce to the Middle East region and beyond is hard to overstate."
Howard French on the disastrous effects of the slave trade and European colonialism on economic and social development in Africa: “Between 1500 and the late 1800s, tropical Africa altogether lost roughly 18 million people to the slave trade,” he writes, in a review of ‘Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa’ by Lawrence James.
"On April 20, 1968, Enoch Powell completed my early education, confirming an unsettling belief that had begun to take shape in my six-year-old’s fertile imagination: my color vexed some people’s spirits," writes Colin Grant.
James Wolcott reviews ‘Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine’ by Joe Hagan, the story of a “velociraptor appetite—for fame, glory, sex, drugs, food, social status, cultural recognition, political clout, and luxury furnishings.”
Laura Marsh on David Friend’s ‘The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido’: the book is “valuable precisely because it records what so many people believed, until just now, about the state of sex in the 1990s, the images that guided them, and the realities they overlooked.”
Daniel Dennett responds to Galen Strawson's piece, published last month, The Consciousness Deniers: "We say that there isn’t any conscious experience in the sense that Strawson insists upon."
Strawson replies, "According to Dennett, we’re not conscious at all, in the ordinary sense of the word: 'We’re all zombies.'"
“I’ve taught Shakespeare to Columbia undergraduates for three decades,” James Shapiro writes, “and while my students over the years haven’t changed their minds much about A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Macbeth, they have about Hamlet.” Each generation of readers has different interpretations of the play. A new book, Hamlet and the Vision of Darkness, suggests where things may be heading.
"Elisabeth Kübler-Ross applied the same five stages she identified as present in the process of dying—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—to the process of grieving. As with dying, she never meant to imply that grief was contained to just five feelings, or that the stages were linear, like levels in a Nintendo game," writes Jessica Weisberg.
"Looking at reproductions of art isn’t seeing art. You have to see it as it appears in exhibitions—at particular times on particular walls in particular buildings in particular cities or towns," writes Nell Painter of her trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to see "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power."
Happy Easter and Passover, from the Review and artist David Fratkin.
Ellen Willis on Easy Rider; Jason Epstein, one of the Review’s founders, reports from the trial of the Chicago Seven; and Hannah Arendt on lying in politics. This is the third in a series featuring past highlights of The New York Review, to celebrate the magazine’s fifty-fifth anniversary.
"Leon Golub sometimes said he painted monsters, but mostly he painted men," writes Zack Hatfield of the exhibition now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Breuer.
People are worried about the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the far-right party that entered parliament for the first time in the elections this past September. "But Germany’s political direction depends far more on the two center parties, the SPD and especially the CDU (and its sister party in Bavaria, the more conservative CSU)," writes Madeleine Schwartz.
“Hawa, a Hindi word for wind or air, carries a subtler meaning in Indian politics. A politician’s hawa is the tailwind that propels him to victory; it is the superior momentum that comes with being on a roll. For the past five years in the world’s biggest democracy, one man, one party, and one ideological current have pretty much cornered all the hawa.”
Max Rodenbeck reviews two books about Narendra Modi and politics in India.
Amia Srinivasan reviews ‘One Another’s Equals: The Basis of Human Equality’ by Jeremy Waldron
Is there no merit or sense in the flashback as a literary device? Tim Parks considers.
Kenneth Clark was once the most celebrated art historian in the world. But his television show Civilization, which introduced millions of people around the world to art history and lit the spark that led to the mass popularity museums and galleries enjoy today, is largely forgotten.
Richard Dorment reviews James Stourton’s biography of “a man whose vision influenced the art-viewing habits of generations.”
Shawn Carrié and Pesha Magid: "Places like the Book Forum—part library, part café, a space where people can sit and share coffee and conversation at communal tables, or curl up alone with a book—are important not only to restoring a semblance of what life was like in Mosul before ISIS, but also to nurturing a culture of knowledge that will counteract the cycle of problems that has befallen a generation."
This week, Uzbekistan hosted a major peace conference on Afghanistan. "After spending decades as a pariah state, feared or at best ignored by even its near neighbors because of its reputation as one of the most repressive and closed nations in the world, Uzbekistan is slowly emerging from the shadows," writes Ahmed Rashid.
Larry Wolff on the production of Mozart's 'Così fan tutte,' now at The Metropolitan Opera: "The dark engine that drives the opera into sexually disturbing corners of the psyche is the wager undertaken in daylight and consummated by night, the men betting on the women’s sexual susceptibility."
Tim Flannery on three new books about dogs and humans
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