• Saturday serenade: From chaos to order and back again

    Saturday serenade: From chaos to order and back again

    In his study of fin-de-siècle Vienna, Carl Schorske turned not to Schoenberg, Berg, or Webern to introduce his themes, but to Maurice Ravel’s 1920 La valse. “I feel this work a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz, linked in my mind with the impression of a fantastic whirl of destiny,” Ravel said, and Schorske […]

  • A Yuletide Modernist

    A Yuletide Modernist

    Enthusiasts of the poet and critic T.S. Eliot will find their Christmas stockings over-stuffed this year. Recently both Lyndall Gordon and Robert Crawford have added a few volumes to the biography shelf, and just days before Christmas W.W. Norton will issue another biography of sorts — of Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” by Matthew Hollis. In […]

  • Thirty years ago

    Thirty years ago

    In 2021 (we plan ahead), Marilyn and I plan to bundle our family into a transatlantic airliner for a journey to the Czech Republic. Our daughters are old enough now to appreciate the architecture and a little history, but for me, it will be a return to a part of the world for which I’ve […]

  • A toast to Mineshaft

    A toast to Mineshaft

    In many ways, I’m still an analog boy in a digital world, and when it comes to leisure material for reading, watching, and listening, I prefer the hand-made sort of entertainment, whether it’s mid-budget comedy movies from the 1930s or what’s generally become known as roots music. Books and magazines that suit my temperament are […]

  • On the periphery

    On the periphery

    I want to start the month off by recommending Marjorie Perloff’s Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire, published last year by the University of Chicago Press (a paperback edition will be published in January 2018). The book defines what Perloff calls “Austro-Modernism,” a form of modernist thinking engendered in the […]

  • My Vienna

    My Vienna

    Originally published here in 2014. Earlier iterations of the journal featured Vienna’s Burgtheater in their banners; it disappeared for a while, now it reappears again. I can’t say that Vienna is the city in which I feel most at home; that Vienna is long gone. (Besides, my German language skills are, if not non-existent, laughable.) […]