Leon Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn in 1952 and studied at Columbia College, Balliol College, Oxford, and Harvard University. He is the literary editor of The New Republic. His book, Nuclear War, Nuclear Peace, was published in 1983. He lives in Washington.

New York "for several decades . . . the artistic capital of the Western world?" When, exactly? The "Western world" is a big place. Moreover, I'm not sure that art has a capital, or needs a capital; nor that places (or decades) are terribly useful categories for the understanding of why the interior life of certain men and women develops as it does, and turns outward into expression. A writer may be influenced decisively by ideas, and a painter by images, far away in space and time. And writers and artists will always want to protect themselves from their surroundings, to resist their interferences and impositions (which may also take the form of "high...


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