Happy Birthday, TNC!

by John Derbyshire

I just want add my voice to those of K-Lo and A-Mac in offering hearty congratulations to The New Criterion on its 30th anniversary bumper issue.

I have rhapsodized over TNC long and often. Here I was doing so ten years ago at this very website on, of course, their 20th anniversary. I can’t add much to that earlier tribute other than wonder and delight that the magazine is still with us a decade later. (T.S. Eliot’s quarterly The Criterion, in honor of which TNC was named, lasted only 16 years, as TNC editor & publisher Roger Kimball told me last night with modest pride.) I look forward to rhapsodizing again in 2021.

The anniversary issue is online here with a list of all the articles and reviews. NR/NRO readers will see many familiar names. For example: Kevin Williamson’s swelling legion of fans please note that Kevin has now settled in as TNC’s theater critic, a slot formerly occupied by Mark Steyn. There is no formal relationship between TNC and NR; we just share the same broad conservative sensibility, with NR oriented more to the political end of the field, TNC the cultural.

Most of the TNC pieces posted online there show only “teaser” text. That is, you see the first couple of paragraphs of a piece, then a line telling you that if you want to read the whole thing you should subscribe, WHICH OF COURSE YOU SHOULD.

A few pieces are online in full, though, including my review of Mara Hvistendahl’s book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. I’ve already been getting some feedback from TNC readers about the review. Sample:

Dear Mr. Derbyshire:

In your review of Ms. Hvistendahl’s new book, you intimate some doubts about the an excess of males occasioning social unrest — and I think you’re quite right to do so, in spite of what “one feels intuitively,” as you say. I don’t know that comments on blogs are very often worth reading; but the 2009 exchange between one Jason Malloy and the host, Peter Frost, over at his evolutionary-anthropology blog, is very enlightening on this topic. Malloy, in short, argues persuasively that excess of males leads to less violence and antisocial behavior, essentially because the scarcity of women obliges men to defer to female norms & demands in order to mate. (Warning: some of the other comments on that post are very lame.)

Thank you, Sir. I know Jason Malloy of old from his always thought-provoking contributions to the Gene Expression science blog. These demographic topics relating to sex imbalances are interesting to wellnigh everyone, I should think, reaching as they do into so many areas of inquiry and common experience, from political science to the dating game.

The New Criterion covers a great deal more than human-sciences topics, of course. Art, music (our own Jay Nordlinger), drama, history, law, literature, religion, current affairs, the media, … If there’s something interesting to say about a topic from a conservative standpoint, someone at TNC is saying it, with pith and vigor.

The magazine is a treasure. Congratulation to them on their 30th anniversary; all best wishes for the next 30 years; and a special word of appreciation for Hilton Kramer, who, with the late Samuel Lipman, launchedThe New Criterion on an unsuspecting world — actually, so far as the halls of high culture were concerned, mainly a hostile world — thirty years ago this fall.

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