New at IWP Books, Two by Bernard Shaw: On the Rocks (1934) and Geneva (1938). Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence:

“In his last years, Shaw extolled Russian Communism, like Bertrand Russell, the Webbs, and millions of other intellectuals. But in Shaw, one suspects a different spirit within the motive. His approval of government by murder and massacre looks like a desperate gambler’s last throw. It contradicts not only a lifetime of clear pragmatic thought, since protracted violence means practical failure, but also the plays written at the same time as the advocacy: The Apple Cart, On the Rocks, …

New at IWP Books: Desmond MacCarthy, Experience, 1935. Three Parts: Of Human Nature; During the War; Digressions of a Reviewer. From the Chapter on Making Speeches:

“What daunts me when I get upon my feet to speak is not that I am unaccustomed to public speaking, but that all my previous speeches have been failures. And yet I think, or rather, to use the formula of words which was constantly on the lips of that cautious metaphysician Sir William Hamilton, — “It seems to me that I think I believe,” that there is the making of a speaker in me. In the first place, why otherwise should I continue to be …

Mary Murphy is one of Nine-to-Five

Sleepless night (in Israel), some of the time working on: Desmond MacCarthy, Humanities, 1954. Now at IWP Books. Chapters on Ibsen, Chekhov, T. S. Eliot, De Quincey, Sidney Smith, Leigh Hunt, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Swinburne, Edgar Allan Poe, & More. Two more books by MacCarthy to appear soon: Experience and...

Gary Saul Morson, “Lucky Joe” [Joseph Epstein]

Tomorrow night: Mary Murphy

New at IWP Books: Desmond MacCarthy, Memories, 1953. Chapters on Lytton Strachey, Kipling, Maupassant, Leslie Stephen, Hardy, James Joyce, Landor, Siegfried Sassoon, Logan Pearsall Smith, Max Beerbohm & More.

Who are your heroes?

My Unholy Trinity has been Jesus, Galileo, and Oscar Wilde.

Which living person do you most admire?.

Among my personal friends, Jacques Barzun. Among the more distant, Nelson Mandela.

Which living person do you most despise?.

I try not to despise anyone, and I usually succeed. Contempt is bad for the soul.

—Eric Bentley, “A Proust Questionnaire”

From John Jay Chapman, Letters and Religion

New at IWP Books: John Jay Chapman, 1924, Letters and Religion. From the Book:

On Horace

“It is easier to imagine a substitute for telegraphy than a substitute for Horace’s Odes; for the contrivances that harness electrical power change rapidly — a new one replaces an old. But the vehicles which carry spiritual power around the world are so subtle and complex, so much a part of the human mind’s own history, that they speak to every generation in its home tongue, and live down a hundred theories of scientific truth and ten thousand contrivances of material convenience.”

“I cite Horace as a symbol, …

New at IWP Books: Desmond MacCarthy, Criticism, 1932. Chapters on Samuel Butler, George Santayana, Boswell, Literary Booms, Literary Snobs, James Joyce, Proust, Defoe, Aldous Huxley, and More. From the Chapter “A Critic’s Day Book”:

“I still read for pleasure — that is a statement which would strike most people as hardly worth making. Yet I could assure them that if it caught the eye of a fellow-reviewer he would drop this book in astonishment. Very likely on second thoughts he wouldn’t believe it. Several most capable reviewers have, I happen to know, almost entirely lost the faculty of reading. Th…

John Jay Chapman on Horace…

Tyler Piccotti on Artemus Ward.

Albert Jay Nock on Artemus Ward (1924) and on Artemus Ward’s America (1934). From 1924:

“Ward is the property of an order of persons — for order is the proper word, rather than class or group, since they are found quite unassociated in any formal way, living singly or nearly so, and more or less as aliens, in all classes of our society — an order which I have characterized by using the term intelligence. If I may substitute the German word Intelligenz, it will be seen at once that I have no idea of drawing any supercilious discrimination as between, say, the clever a…

For Patrick Kurp.

New at IWP Books: Desmond MacCarthy, Portraits, 1931.

Arthur Krystal (A Word or Two Before I Go, 2023):

“Thirty years ago I contemplated writing about the British critic and raconteur Desmond MacCarthy. Accordingly, I headed off to Broadway and Thirteenth Street. In those days the literary criticism at the Strand was stuck in with Literature, which was somewhere toward the back of the store, near the left wall. Before I reached the rows designated by the letter M, a book fell from an upper shelf, just missing my head. I knew it was from a high shelf because of the loud clap it ma…

New at IWP Books: Logan Pearsall Smith, All Trivia, 1933.

Arthur Krystal (A Word or Two Before I Go, 2023) on L.P.S.:

“Shoulders and elbows were also necessary to secure my 1922 second edition of Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith, published in 1917 by Doubleday, Page & Company, as well as my 1921 first edition of More Trivia, published by Harcourt, Brace, and Company. I hadn’t heard of Logan Pearsall Smith (the best name ever for an essayist, though he mainly composed vignettes in “moral prose,” some no more than half a page long) until Gore Vidal wrote a piece about him for the New York Review of Boo…

New at IWP Books: Eugene and Roswell Martin Field, 1896, Echoes from the Sabine Farm