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Lost Recording of T. S. Eliot, the Language of the Third Reich, and Misunderstood Texas

T. S. Eliot speaks: The 92nd Street Y has found a 1950 recording of T. S. Eliot reading and talking about his poetry. Read about it [1] in The New York Times and listen to it here [2].

You’ve read, no doubt, about the college bribing scandal that has caught Hollywood stars, business executives, and other wealthy individuals paying large sums to get their kids into selective schools: Here are the numbers [3]: 8 universities, 11 college employees, 45 students, and $5.9 million.

The language of the Third Reich [4]: “In 1933, the inconceivable became reality. In his diary entries, Klemperer reflected on how the Nazis had been able to seize power. Their most effective propaganda tools, he observed, were not the speeches of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels. Nor were they the leaflets, posters, or parades festooned with flags, torches, and other symbols. The tenets of National Socialism had not, in fact, been absorbed by the population through conscious thought processes. Or, so it seemed to Klemperer. Instead it was only by the endless repetition of individual words, phrases, and sentences—the language of the Nazis—that these ideas were able to take root in the subconscious of the German people.” What individual words and phrases are repeated ad nauseam today?

Do make time to read Boris Dralyuk’s excellent review [5] of Brian J. Boeck’s book on “Stalin’s scribe,” Mikhail Sholokhov: “Sholokhov’s willingness to do the Party’s bidding destroyed his reputation in the eyes of most liberal Soviet writers. It certainly earned him the lasting hatred of a formidable foe, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who also hailed from the Don region and would go on to win the Nobel in 1970. Having initially expressed his admiration for Solzhenitsyn’s watershed fictional exposé of Stalinist repression, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), Sholokhov soon came to see the brash survivor as a ‘malicious lunatic, who has lost control of his reason.’ He recommended that Solzhenitsyn be expelled from the Soviet Writers’ Union. Solzhenitsyn, for his part, saw Sholokhov as a ‘hangman’ and became obsessed with proving that he had plagiarized the better parts of his epic. When it came to ferocity and tenaciousness, the two men from the Don had much in common.”

Kevin Williamson reviews book-length “explanation” of Texas [6] by Lawrence Wright. The problem is, Williamson writes, “Wright doesn’t live in Texas—he lives in Austin, the world capital of extended adolescence. Wright’s ruminations on Texas are those belonging to a familiar kind of permanent teenage holden-caulfieldism associated with that city.”

Charles de Gaulle’s France [7]: “Using pick handles and rifle butts, the police force of one of the world’s most civilized countries surrounded and savagely beat hundreds of dark-skinned men. They then threw them into the beautiful river that flows through a city celebrated for its cultural and artistic wonders. Those who were still alive after the beatings were left to drown. This was Paris, City of Lights, on the night of October 17, 1961. To this day, nobody knows how many peaceful Algerian protesters died in this episode, concealed for years by menacing state power and a ­compliant press. Most estimates are in the hundreds. General Charles de Gaulle, towering hero of resistance to Hitler, had recently become President of France in an undoubted military putsch, tactfully concealed but firmly based upon paratroopers. He cannot possibly have been unaware of what was done that night.”

Essay of the Day:

The World Wildlife Fund is supposed to support the perseveration of wildlife and endangered species around the world. The lengths to which they will go to do that, including hiring violent rangers to fight poaching, might surprise you. Tom Warren and Katie J. M. Baker report [8]:

“Down the road from the crocodile ponds inside Nepal’s renowned Chitwan National Park, in a small clearing shaded by sala trees, sits a jail. Hira Chaudhary went there one summer night with boiled green maize and chicken for her husband, Shikharam, a farmer who had been locked up for two days.

“Shikharam was in too much pain to swallow. He crawled toward Hira, his thin body covered in bruises, and told her through sobs that forest rangers were torturing him. ‘They beat him mercilessly and put saltwater in his nose and mouth,’ Hira later told police.

“The rangers believed that Shikharam helped his son bury a rhinoceros horn in his backyard. They couldn’t find the horn, but they threw Shikharam in their jail anyway, court documents filed by the prosecution show.

“Nine days later, he was dead.”

Read the rest. [8]

Photos: Wildflowers [9]

Poem: André du Bouchet, “Notebook Fragments, 1952-9154” [10]

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