Gopnik on Mill in the New Yorker

Last year, since we were headed to England for five months, I had to let my magazine subscriptions lapse. Upon returning, I decided to change things up a bit: though I re-upped on Vanity Fair, instead of renewing Harper's (I now get hand-me-downs from a friend) I subscribed to the New Yorker and am loving it (even if it does tend to make Grand Rapids feel very "midwest"). Samplings of cultural happenings in NYC, deeper reflections on the headlines, film reviews from Anthony Lane, regular pieces by Adam Gopnik (who I've praised before)--and it's a weekly. What's not to love?

Take Gopnik's review of a John Stuart Mill biography in last week's issue. Noting that Mill's staggering genius and enduring contemporaneity make any biographer just a bit resentful, Gopnik remarks:
Every time we turn a corner, there is Mill, smiling just a touch too complacently at having got there first. Admiration for intelligence and truth easily turns into resentment at the person who has them; Aristides the Just was banished from Athens because people were fed up with hearing him called Aristides the Just. It is one of the many virtues of Reeves’s funny, humane biography that it brings Mill to life in the only way sententious great men can be brought to life, and that is by showing us what he was like when he lost his heart and when he lost his reason. Both happened to him just once, but that was sufficient. Mill’s is a story of a man out in the pure sun of reason and rational inquiry, lit at night by the romantic moonlight of a little bit of love and just enough madness.