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Weekly Round-Up: Drum Taps at 150, Literature and Madness, The Slow Death of the University, Literary Fame, Eugene O’Neill, The Culture Wars.

The Oxonian Review presents the Weekly Round-Up, featuring articles the editorial staff have found interesting, illuminating, or otherwise noteworthy.


1. “Richard Kreitner: ‘The Echoes of Walt Whitman’s “Drum-Taps”’“, Boston Globe: Walt Whitman invented a new language for American poetry. His Civil War volume, Drum Taps, was published 150 years ago this month, and it continues to echo and provoke. “The poet of “Drum-Taps” was not all we might now wish him to have been. But at the same time, the book’s republication for the first time in 150 years is an invitation to recognize anew that the America he sang about remains, for better and for worse, our own.”

2. “John Simon: ‘Long Night’s Journey’“, The Weekly Standard: John Simon discusses a new biography of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. Despite some sloppiness, the book provides an indispensable account of O’Neill’s life and works. What sort of a man was he? A writer friend, Benjamin De Casseres, wrote that he “almost awed me .‚Äâ‚Äâ.‚Äâ‚Äâ. a grim, unsmiling face taut with suffering, he seemed to say to me: ‘Excuse me for not being nice, but I’ve just returned from hell.’‚Äâ” But as one actress wrote, he “was a very beautiful man .‚Äâ‚Äâ.‚Äâ‚Äâ. terribly handsome and very gentle.” Another remembered “sweetness—the greatest sweetness I’ve ever found in a human being; that’s Mr. O’Neill’s outstanding quality.”

3. “Joshua Rothman: ‘The Bizarre, Complicated Formula for Literary Fame’“, Paris Review: Joshua Rothman thinks through the forces that bring about literary fame. Genius, in and of itself, is not enough to ensure fame. The first step is to be a talented writer; the second is to have an extended family (a great-great-newphew somewhere) who will one day publish your Collected Works; the third is to leave a tantalising unfinished project that can one day be published to renew interest in your works; and the fourth requirement is to live (or die) somewhere beautiful that can eventually become a site of pilgrimages.

4. “Terry Eagleton: ‘The Slow Death of the University’“, Chronicle: Terry Eagleton writes about the slow death of the university and on the sidelining of the humanities in particular, which are “being driven by capitalist forces while being simultaneously starved of resources.” “It is the humanities above all that are being pushed to the wall. The British state continues to distribute grants to its universities for science, medicine, engineering, and the like, but it has ceased to hand out any significant resources to the arts. It is not out of the question that if this does not change, whole humanities departments will be closed down in the coming years. If English departments survive at all, it may simply be to teach business students the use of the semicolon.”

5. “Andrew Scull: ‘Madness and Meaning’“, Paris Review: Madness and literature have a long relationship. Andrew Scull, author of Madness: A Cultural History of Insanity, unpicks that relationship and its relationship with medical science. “The social and cultural dimensions of mental disorders, […] are unlikely to melt away, or to prove no more than an epiphenomenal feature of so universal a feature of human existence. Madness indeed has its meanings, elusive and evanescent as our attempts to capture them have been.”

6. “Andrew Hartman: ‘The Neo Conservative Counterrevolution’“, Jacobin: Andrew Hartman writes about the neoconservative backlash to social progress and the foundation of the culture wars. “In celebrating the ‘fundamental goodness’ of America and its institutions, neoconservatives believed they were providing an important service to the regime they loved: they were protecting it from the New Left that they thought was out to destroy it.”

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