How Burke Became a Conservative, the Paul Pine Mysteries, and True Detective Arthur Conan Doyle


When the creator of Sherlock Holmes helped free the wrongfully convicted Oscar Slater, it should have led to a happy ending. It didn’t: “For a man wrongfully convicted and for a detective novelist, Slater’s release should have been a perfect ending. It was no such thing. Once Slater was freed from Glasgow prison in 1928, he faced narrowed prospects. The ‘Slater’ name, and its associated infamy, slammed doors on professional opportunities and brought back painful memories, so he reverted back to his birth name of Leschziner. Not only was the real murderer never properly identified, but the relationship between Slater and Conan Doyle devolved into something ugly: By the time Conan Doyle died, in 1930, Slater and he were estranged.”

How Burke became a conservative: “Far from defending established order, Burke routinely criticized what he considered the abuse of authority, from British policies toward the American colonies to the governing of Ireland and India. But for his spectacular break with Whig leader Charles James Fox over the French Revolution, he would stand among the forerunners to the nineteenth-century Liberal Party. Burke’s attacks on royal patronage as ‘Old Corruption’ and calls for economical government anticipated later radical demands. No contemporaries, including his great friend Samuel Johnson, considered Burke anything but a Whig. Yet Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790 won plaudits from George III even as it opened a pamphlet war and separated him from longtime Whig allies.”

Remember that piece by Lionel Shriver complaining about Penguin Random House’s self-imposed diversity quotas? In it, she argued that publishers should focus on quality writing, not race and gender. Silly her. She’s now been removed from the jury of a literary prize because her comments would “alienate the women” the prize is supposedly trying to support. As I said on Monday, the only thing that matters anymore is diversity.

A lost John Coltrane recording to be released on June 29: “The family of Coltrane’s first wife, Juanita Naima Coltrane, recently discovered his personal copy of the recordings, which she had saved, and brought it to the label’s attention.”

A single-sentence novel wins €100,000 literary award. Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones is narrated by ghost and is about “the meaning of the roles of husband, father, son, brother, colleague and neighbour,” and, according to the judges, offers “a sharp, acerbic and often very funny response to contemporary Irish masculinity.” Meh.

Michael Dirda recommends the Paul Pine mysteries.

Essay of the Day:

In Jezebel, Anna Merlan writes about the whisper campaign against editor Laura McGann following her story about New York Times political reporter Glenn Thrush’s unseemly actions toward women:

“In the time period when Thrush was being investigated by the Times for his alleged sexual misconduct, McGann says she was subjected to a bizarre whisper campaign. She came to believe that sources sympathetic to Thrush were telling the New York Times, media reporters covering the Thrush affair—and her own colleagues and her bosses—that her supposedly scandalous sex life made her suspect, an unreliable reporter, and someone who didn’t need to be listened to. If the rumors had had their intended effect, they would have tanked McGann’s career.

“‘It boiled down to this,’ McGann told Jezebel. ‘I thought this was an important story. Glenn Thrush was one of the most prominent reporters covering Donald Trump, who’s been repeatedly accused of sexual assault, misconduct and harassment, and whose presidency is at the center of this major cultural moment around Me Too. In light of that, I thought Glenn Thrush’s own behavior was entirely relevant, important and newsworthy.’

“She paused.

“‘In terms of the backlash,’ she said, finally, ‘in terms of thinking about writing the story, Glenn has reputation for lashing out when he’s confronted. I assumed he would, in some way. But what I didn’t expect was for him to be backed up and protected by people inside the New York Times.’”

Read the rest.

Photo: Red cloudbow

Poem: Charlotte Mew, “The Farmer’s Bride”

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