The New York Review of Books, outside of its semi-monthly print and online magazine, offers an excellent article each day on its Web site.
Ranging from politics and social commentary to views on literature, art and culture, the NYR Daily articles give a more personal perspective than the magazine's book reviews. From autobiographical essays to trenchant reflections on current issues, the pieces in tandem are like a separate digital journal, a small but welcome effort to raise the Internet's literary standards.
Recently, the NYR Daily has published former New York Times columnist Verlyn Klinkenborg's thoughts on the Victorian critic and artist John Ruskin, Garry Wills' account of his growing dismay during his academic career at how qualified women were denied professorships, and Daphne Merkin's recollections of New York's literary life.
Klinkenborg looks back on his deep involvement with Ruskin's life and work, prompted by the current exhibit, "Onto This Last: 200 Years of John Ruskin," at the Yale Center for British Art.
As a young staff member at New York City's Morgan Library, Klinkenborg fell under the spell of Ruskin's landmark books "Modern Painters," "The Stones of Venice" and "The Seven Lamps of Architecture." An early environmentalist and a pioneer of aesthetics, Ruskin was also a reactionary who opposed Darwin and a misogynist disgusted by women's bodies. Klinkenborg ponders how Ruskin's dualities echo in our times.
Wills in his autobiographical piece "How I Learned to Fight the Patriarchy" recalls with anger and regret how American universities discriminated against women with outstanding scholarly credentials. He recalls resigning from a leadership position because male members of his department refused to even interview a distinguished female scholar. Male professors opposed to women were often the most mediocre in their fields, Wills recalls. His personal growth into a champion of women's equality is a story worth emulating.
Merkin in eulogizing her late friends James Atlas and Barbara Probst Solomon looks back on the vanished world of New York intellectuals. The article's centerpiece is her memories of a party given by Diana Trilling, at which she encountered Philip Roth, George Plimpton and other literary figures, many now forgotten.
She praises Atlas, the first biographer of Saul Bellow, for breaking the bonds of literary politics. Championing Solomon's forgotten novels, she calls for a revival of her work.