Friday, March 23, 2007

Added "Roots of Romanticism"

To the new and improved "Good Books" list. I was surprised that it got a bad review on Powells, from the Virginia Quarterly Review. It's somewhat ironic that the beef that they name is Berlin's criticism of Bach, because that has almost nothing to do with his main arguments. He argues that the music of the 19th century was more sophisticated than Bach because he was so formalistic. This new music includes people like Mozart and Beethoven. But, like I said, that's a small part of the book. If being upset about poor Bach being criticized is the best they can do then they've failed in their takedown of this book.

Interestingly enough, while they have a problem with Berlin talking about a movement in 19th century continental European thought---he doesn't talk about English literature at all--that's been almost completely abandoned as being provincial beacuse it criticizes Bach they have no problem in giving thumbs up to countless permutations of post-modern thought.

1 comment:

Waldo Jaquith said...

You're right, that is pretty weak. Though I haven't read "Roots of Romanticism," your description of it makes clear that our Autumn 1999 review of it isn't particularly fair. I'd argue that the publication has an almost entirely new staff since 1999, most notably our editor, but that wouldn't be fair; if you'd just written something glowing about a piece in VQR between 1925-2002, I certainly wouldn't attempt to place any distance between the publication then and the publication now. Hopefully that was just a blip in an otherwise good 82-year run of book reviews.