The Corner

‘Swiftly Flow the Days’

In the first item of today’s Impromptus, I mention Oswald Spengler. (This column is the last in a series on Roger Kimball’s latest book, The Fortunes of Permanence.) I say that Spengler is better known as an adjective than as a writer and man. The same may be true of Orwell as well.

I do not happen to mention Spengler’s most famous work, The Decline of the West — and I thought I’d say something about it here. Something linguistic. In German, his title is Der Untergang des Abendlandes — that last word meaning, literally, “Evening Land.” The land where the sun sets.

I think of that chestnut from American history, where Franklin asks about the sun carved into Washington’s chair: Is it a rising sun or a setting sun? I also think of Cyril Connolly’s line, about “closing time in the gardens of the West.”

Whether the sun is rising or setting — or just hanging on — Roger Kimball’s book is exceptionally stimulating. It stimulated five columns from me, and I could have done at least five more. Barack Obama’s stimulus? More of a deflator, it seems to me. But that’s a whole ’nother post.

A final word, on the German language: Say what you will about the Germans — and, boy, is there a lot to say — their language is marvelous. When I was growing up, people said, “It’s ugly.” But then you hear a Schubert song and think, “Um, really?”

N.B.: This post has been amended.

Most Popular


The Inquisitor Has No Clothes

This is a column about impeachment, but first, a confession: I think I might be guilty of insider trading. At this point, I would like to assure my dear friends at the SEC that I do not mean this in any actionable legal sense, but only in principle. Some time ago, I was considering making an investment in a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

ABC News Makes a Serious Mistake

Today, across Twitter, I began to see a number of people condemning the Trump administration (and Betsy DeVos, specifically) for imposing a new definition of sexual assault on campus so strict that it would force women to prove that they were so harassed that they'd been chased off campus and couldn't return. ... Read More