Note: The Horizon: A magazine of the Arts series will resume January 9, 2023.
The Affair by C.P. Snow
Charles Percy (C.P.) Snow (1905-1980), a physicist (among many vocations), was an interesting fellow. Here on the Farm we know him best from his “The Two Cultures,” a lecture given at Cambridge, England in 1959. The lecture was subsequently published as The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (University Press, Cambridge, 1959). The skinny idea is that the sciences and the humanities have become separated from one another. There is no longer a shared culture between scientists and those who study and teach in the humanities. Snow fears this divide has ramifications far beyond the academy.
Snow was also the author of the eleven volume fiction series, Strangers and Brothers which began with the novel George Passant (originally title Strangers and Brothers, 1940). In a review of The Masters (4th in the series, 1951) The New Yorker said, “Mr. Snow’s writing is slow, sure and shrewd, and powerful enough to draw the reader into his closed, almost airtight world of scholars and their families.” Indeed, these novels all–in one way or another–are set in academia.
“The Affair” in this issue of Horizon (pgs. 117-119), favorably compares Snow’s novel to several others about academic life. (The reviewer notes that none, even the satirical, focus mainly on the largest population at the university–the students.) In The Affair, Snow presents a young, Communist scientist who has been accused, and found guilty of, faking an important scientific discovery at a small Cambridge college. The scientist is dismissed, but his wife doggedly pursues the issue, asserting that he was framed. Was he? And if so, who is to judge the appeal that he should be reinstated? Those who found him guilty at the first hush-hushed trial? Those who offered evidence against him? “With these problems, C.P. Snow confronts his readers and subtly leads them into the labyrinth of human motives. Ambition, prudence, pride… they interweave like the forces of a difficult chess problem.”
In these novels–and in the most recent of them, The New Men–Snow has shown a keen awareness of the moral dilemmas of the scientists in the atomic age. He is also as keenly aware of the dilemmas faced by the novelist in a science-dominated age. In an article in the New York Times Book Review, January 30, 1955, he points out that science has had a devitalizing effect upon all contemporary arts–“not because it is evil or inhuman, but simply because it has been so overwhelmingly successful.” With the discovery of the atom bomb, however, Snow finds a growing pessimism and a new humility among the scientists–a spirit in which scientists and novelists can learn from each other–“and the novel can take on a new authority and a new lease on life.” In the future, he suggests, novels will be more closely related to man and his environment, “For the novel only breathes freely when it has its roots in society.”Stanley J. Kunitz, Twentieth Century Authors First Supplement: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature (1963)
IGMAR BERGMAN: WHY I MAKE MOVIES. “A film for me begins with something very vague–a chance remark … a few bars of music … a shaft of light across the street….” So writes the most widely acclaimed film director of our time. From the Introduction to Bergman’s new book, Four Screenplays of Igmar Berman.
THE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN. To every distant shore, some time in the last five hundred years, the light-skinned stranger came, bearing Western civilization. His image, seen by native artists, was scratched on rock, carved in wood, woven in cloth, or painted on paper. Text and art
ART BY ACCIDENT. Never before have artists let sheer happenstance paint their pictures of a throw of the dice shape their music–but then, never before have men tried so hard to avoid making decision as they do now. Text
THE MUSE AND THE ECONOMY. When men are fighting tooth and nail to make a living, they look on the arts as a thing apart. Has our affluent society today carried over some of this disdain into a time in which it really needs the artist and can gain from him as from the scientist? Text
OSBORN’S AMERICANS. Few are spared by this rough-riding satirist [Robert Osborn].
AN INTERVIEW WITH PADDY CHAYEFSKY. “In conceiving characters, the person I have in mind much of the time is myself,” says creator of Marty and many other figures esteemed in television, the movies, and the theater. Text
THE LOUVRE. A crusading king began it. Brilliant successors enlarged it. Two Napoleans completed it. Sieges, uprisings, revolutions of taste have swept over it. First a fortress, then a palace, now Europe’s greatest treasure house, this collective masterwork sums up seven centuries of French culture. Today it belongs to the world. Text and art
“Madame Pompadour,” Quentin de la Tour (1755); From the “Ladies of The Louvre” section
ON STAGE: RICK BESOYAN. Text
ON SCREEN: LEE REMICK . Text
DENMARK’S ROYAL BALLET. [The ballet is on tour at this time in the States.] Text and photos
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S WAR 0N THE FINE ARTS. A foe of academicians of his youth, he later grew to disdain painting and sculpture generally and to see architecture as the only art. The result: a museum that defeats the work it houses. Text and photos
LA VIE BOHÈME ON CENTRAL PARK WEST THEATER: Art mirrors life–and vice versa–in painter John Koch’s poished household, a milieu that is about as far from the traditional garret as one can get. Text, photos, and art
THEATER: LAUGHTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. Review of Samuel Beckett’s Kapp’s Last Tape. Text
MOVIES: THREE ORPHANS AND THEIR PATRON SAINT. Review of Disney’s Pollyanna.
BOOKS: LIFE BEHIND THE IVY. Review of C.P. Snow’s The Affair, eighth in his Strangers and Brothers series.
ADVERTISING: THE USES OF ADVERSITY. Cigar, cigarette, and alcohol advertising in light of effects on health. Text
TWILIGHT IN THE HAMMAM [Turkish bath]. Near as I can tell, ramblings and boasts of a New Yorker. Text
WHERE NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE EXCESS. In Russia–which has no middle ground, only extremes–a “scarlet thread” of extravagance runs through the Czarist past no less than the collectivized present. Text, photos, art
2 thoughts on “The Affair | Horizon September, 1960”
Very nice! Enjoyable flow of art and thought-provoking quotes.
Thank you! I have fun with it. Sorry it took me so long to notice and approve your comment.
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