Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How we live

The evening brought word of the death 
at 87 of Robert Silvers, a founding 
publisher of our most oft-cited maga-
zine, The New York Review of Books. 
Turning with reluctance, to the no-
tice in The Times, it was astonishing 
but apposite to read the most expansive 
and exuberant report of such a transi-
tion I had ever encountered, placing one 
in no mood whatever to go beyond a grate-
ful, “Yup, that’s right."

The Review and I go back, as must be true 
for most readers, to one’s college days, 
that period of such eruption of curiosity 
as to wed the social and institutional as-
pects of the one with the portable and 
printed ones of the other, without a hitch.

One seamless curriculum and recreation, too,
setting certain values and expectations to 
challenge the tide, as searchings concealed 
within undiminished delight from one decade 
to the next, in ways which no other outstand-
ing “liberal arts” periodical has done with-
out sharp vicissitudes and alienating embar-
rassments, or destruction by mismanagement.

But there is that ultimate distinction to
be raised on this occasion, and it is that
in other fine periodicals, one can be made
to feel one had missed out, by lacking the
requisite cultural bias or social identity,
to say nothing of academic advantage. This
magnificent journal opens every humanist
calling to its pursuit by any active mind.

Now, suddenly, we see it is not too soon to 
understand, unlike our cyclical academies, 
the Review never does gain an alumnus, until 
one achieves the rest now granted this guar-
dian of its ebullient play. The boat will go
out, the Review will go with it, and there
will be feasting on the beach as this is so.

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