The Four Hundred

“’The Four Hundred’ is the nickname for the social elite of New York, an alliance of old landed families, financial speculators, manufacturers and entrepreneurs who had assimilated European social manners and snobbery in the late nineteenth century. The overlooked the divisions of the Civil War, delighted in transatlantic marriages with the nobility of Europe, and guarded themselves from ‘new money’ coming in from the West, especially those who put too much crushed ice in their wine. The concept of the Four Hundred was popularized by Ward McAllister, the Beau Brummel of Manhattan, who coined the expression from the number who could be comfortably entertained, and felt at ease, in Mrs. Astor’s ballroom.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Exuberant (adj)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective exuberant that’s hot off the press. I just wrote it.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Rotten Reviews: Brave New World

“A lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

New York Herald Tribune

“… a somewhat amusing book; a bright man can do a good deal with two or three simple ideas.”

Granville HicksNew Republic

“There are no surprises in it; and if he had no surprises to give us why would Mr. Huxley have bothered to turn this essay in indignation into a novel?”

New Statesman and Nation

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Cultural Literacy: Rembrandt

A couple of days ago, on June 15th, Rembrandt’s birthday passed while I was away from my computer. Since the day gave me an opportunity to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Rembrandt, I observe it now both retrospectively and retroactively.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Bridge

“A long poem (1930) by the US poet Hart Crane (1899-1932). The work is a Whitmanesque celebration of America, its culture and history, and the image of Brooklyn Bridge acts as a link between past and present, a symbol of imagination and striving:

‘O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.’
Hart Crane, The Bridge, proem ‘To Brooklyn Bridge’

Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City, spanning the East River and so linking Brooklyn and Manhattan Island. It was built in 1869-83, and incorporates a number of impressive technical innovations. With its tough, angular, futuristic structure, it became something of an icon for American modernists, being the subject of semi-abstract paintings by, for example, John Marin (1910-1932) and Joseph Stella (1917-1918). More recently, David and Victoria (‘Posh Spice’) Beckham chose to call their son Brooklyn because he was conceived while they crossed the bridge.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Word Root Exercise: Neo-

Today is July 17, 2018. One hundred years ago on this date, the Russian royal family was executed in Yekaterinburg, east of the Ural Mountains, thus ending the three-hundred-year Romanov Dynasty. An enduring myth–and the stuff of much popular culture–arising from this event was the purported survival of Grand Duchess Anastasia. However appealing that idea is, it has no basis in fact. Today is National Wrong Way Corrigan Day, celebrating the wrong turn, so to speak, of Douglas Groce Corrigan’s cross-country flight to Los Angeles in 1938. Twenty-eight hours after leaving Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field to fly west, he landed in Dublin, Ireland. In the annals of incompetence, on this day in 1981, a walkway at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City collapsed, killing 114 people. In 1986, the two geniuses who signed off on the walkway’s design were found culpable in this disaster and relieved of their licenses to practice.

Here is a worksheet on the Greek word root neo-, which means “new” and “recent.”

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

On Education and Civil Society

“A liberal education is at the heart of civil society, and at the heart of a liberal education is the act of teaching.”

A. Bartlett Giamatti

“The American Teacher” in Harper’s (1980)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.