Reviews For Creative Woodworks & Crafts Magazine

The Greatest Journal Ever!

Actually, I'm not kidding or overstating my assessment. This is a journal where Western Civilization is defended and glorified ten times a year. So often we hear the phrase "the best and the brightest" but there can be no denying that this absolutely applies to the crew of The New Criterion.
There is no finer mind in America than Roger Kimball's, and, for those of you who are unfamiliar with his books, I'm sure you'll find yourself agreeing with my observation half way through his treatise on the sixties called "The Long March." I like to consider TNC as covering every area of the artistic continuum as it allows novices like myself to become familiar with domains that we would never explore otherwise. Poetry, dance, painting, and opera are all areas that TNC analyzes in depth. It's writers are among the strongest in the Anglosphere. James Panero, Anthony Daniels, Jay Nordlinger, and the incredibly humorous Mark Steyn will provide you with both education and delight. I've been a subscriber since 2001 and plan to keep on the rolls right until death takes me.

I wonder if I can be a life member like w/ the NRA ?

If you enjoy politics, TV, museums, art & all the gifts of
the enlightenment, the open society, and the liberty we generally take for granted, spare no expense & get this mag. 10 issues
per year (off jul/aug). The -oh so sophisticated- people
who run the universities, blather on networks and scribble away their days not always get it right. Why & how ? Well... I really can't
wait for the first week of the month when a new issue shows up.

An oasis in the cultural desert

I've subscribed to The New Criterion for three years. I don't remember how I found out about it, but it has given me more insight and pleasure than any other cultural journal I've subscribed to.

In his small classic, "On Becoming a Novelist", the late John Gardner identified two "masks" found in writing: The bland optimism of "Pollyanna" writing, and equally false "dis-Pollyanna" writing-- a bias toward cynicism and iconoclasm, gratuitous use of violence, crude language or bodily images, and uninformed negativity passed off as seriousness. The "dis-Pollynna" school of culture and criticism gets its sham strength from its (ever diminishing) capacity to shock and desensitize. Yawn. Time to disconnect those electrodes and walk out of the nihilist cultural dungeon.

By contrast, TNC is refreshingly free of mindless iconoclasm and smash-and-grab sensationalism. Its regular features cover a wide cultural range: art, music, theater, media, books, fiction, poetry and more. Articles are rational and erudite, yet fully accessible to a wide readership of non-specialists. Reviews of books and cultural events stand on their own merits; one need not read the book or attend the event in question to profit from them. (Often, they serve as excellent introductions to the subject in question.) TNC pays little heed to fads or to the university ghetto; much of yesterday's avant-garde has already become today's intellectual Antiques Road Show.

A subscription to TNC includes on-line access to years of searchable archives of past issues, a huge value. So many archived articles stand the test of time, both in style and substance-- a sure sign of their quality and depth of insight.

If you want to encounter our great cultural heritage in well-written articles and features, issue after issue, and enter into an exchange that respects you as an equal even as it enlightens, The New Criterion may well be the journal for you.

In defense of High Culture conservative style

I frequently read 'New Criterion' articles on the 'Arts and Letters Daily' website. They are usually of high- quality and well- worth reading.
Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball the editorial writers, Mark Steyn the drama critic ( And also one of the best writers on world- affairs around) Jay Nordlinger (The music critic) are among the regulars in a solid and respectable cast of writers.
The great Joseph Epstein also writes here.
The articles in 'The New Criterion' give the sense that there is a living 'high culture' , and this in spite of the often critical stance to many modern cultural developments.

judgments rendered

A monthly journal (10 issues annually) established almost 25 years ago, THE NEW CRITERION has covered the world of the cultured arts with a keenly critical eye, disposed towards high artistic standards and sound moral judgments. Delightfully un-PC, its critical stance remains unmitigatedly harsh towards the often flaccid and self-satisfied artistic endeavors of "post-modernity" and the sanctimonious aires of radicalized professors blighting the universities. Yet, for all of the (largely justified) editorial spleen, THE NEW CRITERION's virtues are located in the variety of outstanding contributors. In the literary field alone, luminaries such Joseph Epstein, John Simon, Guy Davenport and Christopher Ricks have graced the pages of THE NEW CRITERION ( whose title alludes to, and takes up the mantle of, T.S. Eliot's "CRITERION", 1920-39 ).

There is an admirable aesthetic evident in THE NEW CRITERION's visual layout, unchanged for many years, the cover featuring the journal title with the date and table of contents of the particular issue located directly below. Mercifully, the font used for essays is both pleasing to, and easy on, the eyes.

Based in a bustlingly artistic city (Manhattan), THE NEW CRITERION takes advantage of its location to survey the world of theater, art and music. Particular critics are deployed in the aforementioned "departments", a move that allows one to glean consistency in point of view (agree or disagree as one may). Mark Steyn is often devastatingly funny in his theater reviews (one can easily imagine impresario's cringing at the prospect of his notices) and classical music critic Jay Nordlinger ("New York Chronicle") is admirably forthright in rendering opinions devoid of equivocation. Poetry, from famous and unknown writers, is regularly featured in THE NEW CRITERION (new executive editor, David Yezzi, is a well respected poet and critic). Symposiums on various cultural/political issues, with contributions from learned panelists, are arranged once or twice a year. Book reviews, undertaken by various (commissioned) writers, are reliably informative, often a spur to read more than just the subject under review.

Despite its "conservative" label, most of THE NEW CRITERION's contributors display little of their political beliefs. In fact, many contributors could quite easily be referred to as "liberal", in one or another of the aspects that protean word admits ( such permutations are just as easily applicable to "conservative", lately quite a supple term, readily conducive to metamorphosis according to agenda ). However, the editorial perspectives of Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball do, lamentably, fit within a general pattern of thought one could label "neo-conservatism", especially as regards their support of the Bush administration and its "war on terror". It pains me to mention this Achilles Heel, especially out of the respect due to Mr. Kimball, whose wide-ranging essays have displayed moral as well as literary acumen. How can an admirer of George Santayana and T.S. Eliot be so blind to the hubristic foolishness ( nay, immorality ) of this foreign policy disaster? When Mr. Kimball (no fan of the Jacobin or Bolshevik revolutions) defends the Bush administration, he endorses ideological premises clearly related to those diabolic social experiments: military adventurism in the name of global democratic revolution ( freeing the world from tyranny; igniting "fire in the minds of men" ). Evidently, Mr. Kimball associates opposition to this war with the counter-cultural movement of the 1960's. While anyone of sense would deplore the excesses of that epoch, it is clear that the problems which have ignited the current conflagration have roots in something more substantial than Ginsberg, Haight-Ashbury and "soixante-huitards". To be fair, THE NEW CRITERION, more than any truly neo-conservative publication, does invite writers (Roger Scruton, RJ Stove, et al) with differing perspectives; this redeems the journal from the monomaniacal, stultifying tendencies exhibited in COMMENTARY or THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

Nevertheless, mistakes and all, THE NEW CRITERION, in terms of sheer quality and comprehensiveness, remains a vital and impassioned advocate of high culture. In doing so, it does honor to the memory of the journal ( and *its* editor ) that inspired it. High criteria indeed.

hey, it's all right

I'm not into the New York art and theatre scene, and I was expecting something more along the lines of "American Arts Quarterly," which has more theoretical articles and is focused exclusively on visual arts without any political overtones. However, I forced myself to read through the first several issues and found that there were articles I liked. Now I look forward to getting issues in my mailbox. I still don't read theatre reviews, which are tedious as a species. Recommended, but if you are really looking for an art journal that is conservative (in a non-political sense), go with "American Arts Quarterly" from the Newington-Cropsey Institute.

Somethimes Informative Journal with Mark Steyn as Star

I frustratingly enjoy this journal and have subscribed to it for many years. Any magazine, newspaper or journal that publishes Mark Steyn, when he writes on anything is going to be a presumptively 5 star magazine. Steyn on theatre is an intellectual imaginative "E" ticket ride. But the magazine goes down hill from him. Also, James Bowman's column is consistnently first rate. Jay Nordlinger should be replaced with a better classical music writer. He is formulaic and obtuse, since classical music is a great part of my life, I can only opine that he is weak on music--much better on politics, which he blogs and writes for National Rev. It is unfortunate that The New Criterion does not review movies--an essential part of our society and culture. Steyn would be perfect for this role. He writes on movies for the British magazine (a four star publication) but is limited in the number of films he reviews. I enjoy some of the articles, but find that the subjects sometimes written about, such as Allan Furst, don't deserve the amount of space given to them. Actually, no space should have been devoted to Furst He is a mediocre crime write who is known for his "atmosphere." I believe the N.C. gave 6 or seven pages to an article on him. Why? If you wish to write about crime fiction ( and journals should), why not write on Ruth Rendell, Bill James and Reginald Hill. Several of Rendell's psychological suspense novels are works of high art indeed. James is a maverick crime writer who has the audacity to write well about a world in which the criminals are not all really bad and the police are often meretricious and grimy. Hill is the finest crime fiction writer of our time. His Dalziel/Pascoe series stands head and shoulders above all other similar serieses. Another weak--very weakk-- writer is Brooke Allen when he (or she) writes on anything. While Nordlinger can be excused as a critic (the editors lack knowledge on music). there is no excuse for publishing Allen, whose insights etc. are simply lightweight, when not simply wrong. Another subject with which I am familiar is poetry and New C. seems unable to find a decent poetry critic, which is understandable, but publishing William Logan as a critic is an execrable publishing decision. He denigrated Geoffrey Hill and was forced to apologize for his critical malfeasance in a subsequent issue. The New Criterion should be writing insightful and laudatory articles on Hill, not giving Logan space for his wrong, or at least questionable critical judgments on poetry. Other poetry critics are similarly poor. I understand the difficulty of finding a good critic, but years ago the N.C. could have probably landed Fred Chappell, whose poetry criticism is a model for poetry critics. (This leads to another problem: the N. C. is irritatingly "east coast." The South and the West don't seem to exist. There should be a continuing columns ( alternating every other issue) on the culture, politics and artistic output of the South and the West (This problem is shared by other fairly good journals that I read--the Weekly Standard and National Review.) The problem I find with the New C. is that the two editors Kramer and Kimball are painting/sculpture critics, with Kramer having a deservedly high stature. I simply don't think they know good criticism in the areas of music, poetry, and fiction and probably don't care enough to find good critics: especially on poetry and classical music. Another problem is the poor selection of books to review. (the Allan Furst problem). I really don't think there is an excuse for not finding better books to review. Also, the "conservative" bent of the magazine (I am a rabid conservative on most issues, by the way) kept it from publishing articles by writers such as Hugh Kenner or Guy Davenport. If Kramer approached literature the way he does painting, he would publish the best and find the likes of Kenner, Chappell, and Davenport to publish. 7 pages on Furst (and many other authors and topics) and not one lenghty article on Geoffrey Hill--shameful. Why do I read the New Criterion? Despite some major flaws, it does publish Steyn and Bowman consistently and 2/4 articles are readable and 1/6 are good. I think the N.C. finds some good conservative writers on politics. The Art criticism is okay, but I demur here because I find painting, sculpture and architecture to be arts vastly inferior to literaturue and music--an opinion shared by many more people than Kramer and Kimball would acknowledge. It would seem that the good criticism goes to the arts that the editors know something about. I think a regular column on cineman and even (gasp, cough!!!) television is essential for a journal like the New Criterion. By the way, the only magazine/journal that rate s 4 stars in my mind is the British Spectator and selected issues of Commentary; there are simply no 5 star magazines at all. For people reading this, in the interests of full disclosure, I subscribe and read regularly National Review, Spectator, and New Criterion. I read at library Weekly Standard and Commentary and First Things. Anyway, I hope Kramer and Kimball somehow get to read this hastily written commentary that still contains,I believe, some good analysis of the New Criterion; they can ignore me (I am eminently ignorable), but I think my opinions merit at least some notice.