The Eyes of Beholders

On Beauty
by Zadie Smith
The Penguin Press, 2005
(443 pages, $25.95, hardcover)

reviewed by Mark Bauerlein

When Zadie Smith’s third novel appeared last September, Frank Rich in the New York Times praised the author as a “fearless outside referee” ready to “adjudicate the culture wars.” Laura Miller in Salon remarked upon how the “foil” of “ideological battles” in the novel set the characters into sharp relief.

Left & Right

The dramaturgy of On Beauty does, indeed, bear them out. We have two families and two ideologies in stark counterpoint. Howard Belsey, born in working-class London, is an art historian at Wellington College in Boston, and he has the . . .

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Mark Bauerlein is Professor of English at Emory University, and the author of Negrophobia: A Race Riot in Atlanta, 1906 (Encounter Books). He recently stepped down as Director of Research at the National Endowment for the Arts. He and his wife have a six-month-old son, and they attend Buckhead Community Church in Atlanta.

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