Quantcast

Nation Topics - Historical Books | The Nation

Topic Page

Nation Topics - Historical Books

Articles

News and Features

"Social Security is the soft underbelly," says right-wing activist
Stephen Moore.

John Kenneth Galbraith was famous long ago as America's most widely read
economist, until his expansive understanding of economic liberalism was
pushed aside by political events and conservativ

After the Kinsey Report but before the first Penthouse Forum, John Updike wrote, "He kneels in a kind of sickness between her spread legs.

If we had four or five Abbott Joseph Lieblings in Iraq and Washington, it might be a different war, one in which those hugely amiable, observant and amusable souls could bring us the news that, y

I was introduced to Bernard-Henri Lévy this spring at a stop on his latest book tour. It was a few minutes before he was due to face the audience.

Unlike communism and socialism, trade unionism has rarely inspired published "second thoughts" by embittered apostates.

Philip Roth is a miracle of modern medicine.

This book has a past, which begins at least in 1995, when Elzbieta Ettinger brought out a controversial account of the unpublished correspondence between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, but p

Love's Labour's Lost
by William Shakespeare

I have been on something of a Shakespeare comedy jag over the
past months; I laughed all the way from Columbus, Ohio, to New York
a few weeks ago, reading Love's Labor's Lost. I had read As You
Like It
just before 9/11, and had a dream one night after that day
that I was in the Forest of Arden with its population of clowns and
witty young women picking cowslips. I felt entirely exalted until I
woke up with the memory of the smoke and horror of the terrorist
attack, and the sense that the comedy somehow distilled the world we
had lost. So I read it again to keep the joy of the dream alive. And
since then I have been going through the comedies whenever I need a
happiness fix. I would love to have been part of the audience
Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote Love's Labor's Lost. There
are, in effect, two teams of extravagant talkers--the King of
Navarre and his courtiers on one side, the Princess of France with
her ladies on the other. The King and his followers have just taken
an oath to forswear contact with women for three years when the
Princess comes on some diplomatic mission; the four males fall
immediately in love with the four females, for whom they are no
match in the game of zinging witticisms past one another's ears.

Shakespeare's audience had to be able to disentangle quadruple
puns as the lines flew back and forth. It is a comedy in which, as
one of the male characters remarks, "Jack does not get his Jill."
Everyone has to take a respite of a year and a day before they will
be ready to face one another again.

I met a real life Jill not long ago--Jill Davis--who has just
published a comic novel called Girl's Poker Night. Her book too
has a team of daunting women, pessimistically looking for love. Her
heroine, Ruby Capote, might well have made good material for the
Princess of France's team of ladies who use language as a blood
sport, though mostly she talks to the reader, since the males are
more or less hopeless. In the end she opts for happiness with a man
who is far from good enough for her. But--as she observes--"Happy
endings are not for cowards."

Here, for those who frown on such light reading for these heavy
times, is a word from Hegel:

"The modern world has developed a type of comedy which is truly
comical and truly poetic. The keynote is good humor, assured and
careless gaiety, despite all failure and misfortune, exuberance and
the audacity of a fundamentally happy craziness, folly, and
idiosyncrasy in general."

Two books on modern policing and the racial dynamics that go with it.