plishment goes beyond vocalism andrndistinguishes a great musieian. Otherrnpeople have pretty voices or nice clothesrnor get photographed in nightclubs, butrnonly Callas eould sing Norma and Elvirarnand Violetta as she did at her best. Herrnimmortality is secure, even if the mostrnrefined estimate of her accomplishmentrnis only now beginning—with MichaelrnScott.’rnWithout credit of received opinionrnand without compromise of humanrnfrailty, Mr. Scott has thoroughly exploredrnthe life and art of Maria Callas—rna woman whom he sees as truly alive onlyrnthrough her performances. Hernemphasizes the early years as her greatestrnones and punctures the notion that hersrnwas a specifically dramatic talent. 1rndon’t completely agree with every onernof his judgments—I like the 1955 BerlinrnLucia and the 1957 Anna Bolena betterrnthan he does—but I find his treatmentrnmore than convincing. I never thoughtrnanyone could elevate my regard forrnCallas. As it is, he has taught me muchrnabout her—and something too aboutrnstraight thinking in the composition of arnbiography.rnIn the context of excellence I willrnmention that the word “fulsome” is misusedrnmore than once and that commarnsplices abound—there are two in thernparagraph quoted above. But as EmilyrnLitella used to say, “Never mind.”rnScott’s life of Callas has fixed for us thernimage of an heroic talent—the gift thatrndrove her to sing recitatives better thanrnher rivals could sing arias. He has evenrnreported acne and dandruff in order torndispel a cosmetized image that neverthelessrnrepresented someone grand.rnThat is not to say that the woman MariarnCallas, as distinct from the musieian, isrnnot here. I mean only that for once arncontemporary biography does not drownrnin details; the tail does not wag the dog,rnor perhaps I should say that the train ofrnthe gown does not direct the diva. Itrnwas the grandeur of the artist that madernthe woman of interest, and not the otherrnway around. Yes, Callas is here; the truthrnof her personal life is here. But thatrntruth is held firmly in proportion to itsrnvalue and significance. Scott knows wellrnthe magnitude of the real achievementrnand quotes an early witness to the laborrnthat beauty demands: “When she camernon the first day of rehearsals I gave herrnthe score and told her that I would gornthrough her part the next day from startrnto finish. But when she arrived I foundrnthat she knew it all in detail, phrase byrnphrase. . . . She had learned it all in onernday. . . . That is talent. It was not just arnquestion of having a voice, it was alsornthe love of hard work. . . . Talent meansrna strength which impels you to study.”rnW. B. Yeats—who wrote “Adam’srnCurse”—likewise understood, “That wernmust labour to be beautiful.”rnJ.O. Tate is a professor of English atrnDowling College on Long Island.rnThe Right Forkrnby Brian DoheityrnBetter Than Plowing and OtherrnPersonal Essaysrnhy ]ames M. BuchananrnChicago: University of Chicago Press;rn194 pp., $23.95rnIask myself again why anyone wouldrnfind interest in the private dimensionsrnof my own history,” muses Nobelrnlaureate economist James M. Buchananrnin his new collection of personal and intellectualrnautobiographical essays. Thernquestion, embedded in an essay entitledrn”Country Aesthetic,” which exploresrnthe manifold and profound meaningsrnthat the concept of country, and morernimportantly the concept of owningrnthe land on which one lives, has forrnBuchanan, answers itself. Exploringrnthe mind of a writer and thinker ofrnBuchanan’s caliber is its own reward.rnBuchanan is the founding father andrnlinchpin of the “Virginia School” of economics,rnwhose founding work was accomplishedrnat the University of Virginiarnat Chariottesville. The Virginia School’srnprime contribution, for which Buchananrnwas awarded the Nobel Prize in economicsrnin 1986, is public choice theory,rnwhich upsets the shibboleths of interventionistrneconomists (who assumerngovernment to be the perfect solutionrnto all perceived “market failures”) by applyingrnthe standard of self-interested homorneconomicus to government actors asrnwell as private ones.rnThis approach allows for considerationrnof the notion—heretical to biggovernmentrneconomists—that governmentsrncan fail in their supposed goalsrnof disinterestedly pursuing the larger socialrngood in the same way they like tornaccuse free markets of failing. They canrnno longer stack the analytical deck byrncomparing actual market performancernto an arid, unrealistic vision of disinterestedrngovernment perfection.rnAs Buchanan puts it, “the lasting contributionrnof public choice theory hasrnbeen to correct this obvious imbalancernin analysis. Any institutional comparisonrnthat is worthy of serious considerationsrnmust compare relevant alternatives;rnif market organization is to be replacedrnby politicized order . . . the two institutionalrnstructures must be evaluated onrnthe basis of predictions as to how theyrnwill actually work. Political failure, asrnwell as market failure, must become centralrnto the comprehensive analysis thatrnprecedes normative judgment.”rnBetter Than Plowing provides only arnbrief and general summary of the economicrnthought for which Buchanan isrnfamous. And if the public choice approachrnstrikes the reader as the applicationrnof mere common sense, not worthyrnof world-class accolades, Buchananrnfeels the same way (“my surprise . . . isrn. . . at the failure of other economists tornhave acknowledged the simple and thernobvious, which is all that I have everrnclaimed my work to be”); and yet it isrnin large part thanks to him that it hasrnbecome customary in economics to applyrnsuch skeptical analysis to the actionsrnof government.rnBuchanan’s wise and personable modestyrnabout his achievements pervadesrnthe book, as does a quiet pride in hisrnSouthern roots and the self-sufficiencyrnof his country lifestyle. He describesrnhimself as “a country boy from MiddlernTennessee, educated in rural publicrnschools and a local public teachers college,rnwho is not associated with an establishmentrnuniversity, who has neverrnshared the academically fashionable softrnleft ideology, who has worked in a totallyrnunorthodox subject matter withrnvery old-fashioned tools of analysis.” Hernwants his reader to grasp the lesson thatrn”if Jim Buchanan can get a Nobel Prize,rnanyone can.” It is charming of Buchananrnto hold this notion, reflecting well onrnhis generosity of character. But the essaysrncollected in this book put the lie tornit. In his solid intellectual analysis, hisrnself-sufficiency, and his love of work,rnBuchanan proves himself a better manrnthan just anyone.rnBuchanan offers his rural boyhood.rn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn