The Corner

National Review

John Simon, RIP

The stories about the late John Simon, critic of all things artistic, being a combination of the skunk at the party and the Wrath of God are so numerous, that I wanted to post a contrast.

During the long time that he reviewed movies for NR, my wife and I saw a performance of Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle at the Met — a first for me, the second time at least for Jeanne. John happened to be in the office the day after, and I mentioned it. His eyes lit up; the result was that the three of us had lunch soon thereafter, to which John brought a libretto, which he patiently and enthusiastically talked through.

Beneath that often ferocious exterior, there was a humility before the works he esteemed, and almost a shyness about praising them, maybe along the lines of the Biblical text, pearls before swine. Hard on the swine, but very devoted to the pearls.

RIP.


National Review Institute (NRI) is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission and 14 NRI fellows (including this author!), allowing them to do what they do best: Advance principled and practical conservative journalism. NRI is currently in the midst of its End-of-Year Fund Appeal and seeks to raise over $200,000 to support the work of the NRI fellows. Please consider giving a generous end-of-year tax-deductible contribution to NRI. Your gift, along with all those from the NR Nation, will provide the essential fuel for our mission to defend those consequential principles for which National Review has fought since 1955, and for which, with your support, it will carry the fight far into the future. Thank you for your consideration.

Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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