William Styron was recently honored by the French government, which made him a Commander of Arts and Letters. In accepting the award, Styron remarked, “Vive la France, Vive l’Amerique and all good things.” Styron may not have a very strong grasp of French, but he loves the country: “I feel particularly good here, and they seem to like me.” 1984 is Styron’s year for picking up awards. He was also feted at the Connecticut Arts Award Gala at which he described himself as a “one-time Southern boy.” Styron is particularly liked by President Mitterrand’s Culture Minister, Jack Lang, the epitome of gauchiste 60’s radicalism in France. Now that he’s given up on Danny the Red, Lang has adopted Mr. Styron as his favorite culture traitor. After all, in an already long (some would say too long) career, Styron has managed to sell books by betraying first his people (the South) in The Confessions of Nat Turner, and then his adopted people (Jewish intellectuals in NewYork in Sophie’s Choice. Who knows what he might have in store for the French? On the other hand, maybe Jack Lang is simply indulging his well-advertised anti-Americanism.Out of sheer spite, French critics have always pretended to adore Jerry Lewis as the highest expression of American civilization. After all,Styron has done at least as much for the novel as Jerry did for film.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
One sure sign of a decadent aristocracy is its isolation. The peasants may be storming castle walls while the quality is sipping tea in thegarden. The journalism establishment is a case in point. Every year they hand out the National Magazine Awards to deserving publications. Scanning the list of recipients for the last 15 years, however, suggests that these prizes might more appropriately be relabeled The National Magazine Awards. Leftist journals such as The Nation and Mother Jones share the spoils with The New Repuhlic, Time, The New Yorker, and National Lampoon. Nowhere in the list of award recipients—nowhere even in the list of finalists—are found National Review, Commentary, The American Spectator, or any other serious conservative magazine. They are apparently not part of “the nation” being surveyed for merit. Nor is ideological bias the only objectionable characteristic of the awards. Comparing the list of award winners with the list of employers of the judges and the screening committee reveals a curious repetition. The inclusion in the process of a few journalism professors from Columbia, New York University, and a few other schools merely underscores the truth: the only “nation” represented by these awards is the mutual admiration society of New York editors, writers, and “perfessors.”
It has been some time since Spain has been known for political journalism. One sign of promise, however, is Nuestro Tiempo, a monthly magazine published in Madrid. It is not so much a news magazine as a topical presentation of significant events and ideas, from the perspective of the Spanish right: the church and morality, business and private enterprise, education, and law and order.
Rather than a call for action, Nuestro Tiempo is a forum for discussion. A recent issue featured an essay against the autonomy of the sciences, which argued for a dialogue between humanists and experimenters. This same issue included coverage of an international conference of university students, a study of journalistic ethics, and an intelligent discussion of the growing invasion of the public sector in economic activity. Nuestro Tiempo is a responsible and moderate organ of the Christian right in Spain which deserves serious international attention.