Monday, November 27, 2006

Merkin On Tom Stoppard

Delightfully named Daphne Merkin tries and fails to psychoanalyse the elusive Tom Stoppard in a wordy, worthy NYT interview. It seems Merkin is famous primarily for boasting about her delight in spanking. Perhaps this is what makes Stoppard a bit wary of her.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Alexis de Tocqueville and Despotism

The Economist reviews Hugh Brogan's new biography of Alexis de Tocqueville.

Tocqueville's view of the importance of the citizen in government is topical, it chimes in with much well-meant rhetoric today.

He saw that "good citizens matter more to free societies than good institutions." He also saw that democracy can breed despotism as easily as other forms of government, an insight confirmed during his life by the election of the "populist demagogue" Louis Napoleon as French Emperor.

A scion of the ancien régime, Tocqueville's best-known work is his paean of praise, published in 1835, to Democracy in America.