Katherine Boyle, in her Rant (“What’s in a (Slavic) name?”) on May 11, while trying to do a mea culpa about her inability to pronounce Slavic and other “Eastern European” names, in the process revealed her striking ignorance of the topic and insulted three nations to boot. First of all, the Hungarians don’t have Slavic names because they aren’t Slavs; they are descended from the Magyar, not the Slavic, tribes.
Most insulting, however, is her characterization of the Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians as “Eastern Europeans,” a term I challenge her to define. These nations were Christianized from Rome, not Constantinople, and have always been part of Western thought and culture, except for the 42 years of their involuntary servitude in the Soviet East Bloc. All three are members of NATO and the European Union. Labeling them as “Eastern European” is like forever referring to an ex-convict who made good as a criminal.
Robert W. Doubek
Founder of American Friends of the
Hello Sarah Kaufman. Though it has been awhile ago, I wanted to express my thanks to you for the beautiful review you wrote about my solo, “If You Don’t Know . . . ” at the Kennedy Center in November 2010. Your words eloquently captured the feeling I had in performing the piece. You expressed, so perfectly, the dynamics and intention of the movement. In fact, over the years whatever you have written about the work I do reveals, in such a foundational way, what I am going for. Your discerning eye, investigation into the underlying thrusts of the work and your ability to translate poetically into words what the dance or dance-theater’s significance is has been a great boon for me. I am fortunate to benefit from the passion you have for your work. Many, many thanks to you, Sarah.
Philip Kennicott must think very well of himself to write so high-handedly in word and tone about one man and his collection of art. Albert Barnes was among an avant-garde few, such as Gertrude Stein and the Cone sisters of Baltimore, who collected “modern art” in the face of harsh criticism and outright rejection by the supposed art aficionados of the day.
Mr. Kennicott’s criticism of Dr. Barnes offers a lasting and hateful impression of the man’s personality rather than enlightening his readers about Dr. Barnses’s foresight as a passionate collector of what would become one of the most universally beloved genres of art. Nor did Mr. Kennicott enlighten his readers about Dr. Barnes’s lifelong fight against racism through education by granting stewardship of his collection to Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania.
Shame on Mr. Kennicott. Congealed cacophony? It would be easy to conclude that Mr. Kennicott is “a crank, and susceptible to an over-clever preciousness” when describing the effect created by the “second rate Renoirs scattered about.”