Mark Twain “continues to bedevil the academy,” Daniel Karlin writes: “The best of Twain can’t be matched; the worst stinks; and they are served on the same plate.”
Judges of the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry announce “intensely political” shortlist. “It’s an intensely political list, and right now it needs to be a political list. Poetry’s ability to engage with language when it is being so debased, when there are so many lies and so much fake news, its ability to look at the discourses around us, is so important,” said Clare Pollard. Ugh. Literary prizes used to be given—at least in an attempt—to award the best work, not to score political points or improve “representation.” Poetry is important because it helps us distinguish between fake news and real news? What an incredibly small view of art.
A history of Notre Dame’s gargoyles.
Newly discovered graffiti may help determine the exact date of the destruction of Pompeii.
How Babe Ruth became the first sports celebrity.
Is Julia Louis-Dreyfus the most successful sitcom star ever? Geoff Edgers thinks so.
Do we lose anything when children no longer use printed dictionaries? Michael Adams doesn’t think so. I don’t buy it, but give Adams a read.
Essay of the Day:
In The Atlantic, Matthew Continetti argues that Russell Kirk was less interested in politics than he was in a way of thinking. And he is, perhaps, more needed now than he has ever been:
“Kirk wasn't interested in defending a party agenda. He wanted to promote a cast of mind. In a 1963 letter to Jerry Pournelle, who would later make his mark as an author of science fiction, Kirk wrote, ‘There remains in this country a large body of support for an imaginative conservatism. Though the odds are against us, we may succeed in saving a good deal from the wreck of the modern world; and, as Henry Adams like to say in his mordant way, “The fun is in the process.”’ He sought to cultivate a moral imagination that allows us to see the world not only from the perspective of others but also from the standpoint of the past and the future. He had no grand plans of social regeneration, no aspirations for universal dominion. ‘“Politics is the art of the possible,” the conservative says: he thinks of political policies as intended to preserve order, justice, and freedom.’
“Above all, Russell Kirk reminded the world of what Edmund Burke described as the ‘partnership’ that exists ‘not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.’ He brought attention to what his friend and hero T.S. Eliot called the ‘timeless moments’ connecting us to both past and present.”
Poem: Joseph Mirra, “Nones on Sunday”
Photo: Footbridge over the River Garry
Get Prufrock in your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe here.