Tuesday, November 30, 2004

What to Re-Read, Part II

If I read it, I’m apt to re-read it. And though it seems poor hospitality to bore GS readers with the contents of my nightstand, I’ll mention some things I’ve re-read in the last couple of years.

Shakespeare: I’ve been noodling around in Antony and Cleopatra, which I love most for its portait of feminine wiles. Act One, Scene III, the queen sends her messenger to find Antony: "If you find him sad / Say I am dancing; If in mirth; report that I am sudden sick. . . ."

Irving Kristol’s essays, esp. The Autobiography of an Idea collection, though it doesn’t include the indispensable "When Virtue Lost her Loveliness." Irving (sorry but you’ll have to indulge me-few are the truly great individuals I get to call by their first name,) is in my opinion the most eloquent of the great anti-Communists. No other tapped so deeply into the great American essay tradition dating back to the Federalist papers.

I’ve been re-reading, with great pleasure, Florence King’s National Review columns for an eventual essay on the subject of her cruelty and wit, and I tentatively believe—meaning this was my opinion for a while and I wonder if it will survive the re-examination—that she’s the foremost conservative stylist of my lifetime.

Isaac Bashevis Singer’s folkloric stories hold up very, very well, so perfectly wrought are they. I’ve also re-read Enemies, A Love Story not that long ago. What a book! When I learned that Roger L. Simon had written the screenplay for the excellent movie version, I felt like sending him flowers.

A very partial list. In truth I find it very easy to name contemporary writers worth re-reading. Even poets and novelists-whom conservatives seem to loathe almost out of habit.

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