Roger Kimball

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Roger Kimball
Born1953 (age 68–69)
Alma mater
  • Art critic
  • social commentator
  • editor
EmployerThe New Criterion

Roger Kimball (born 1953) is an American art critic and conservative social commentator. He is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the publisher of Encounter Books. Kimball first gained notice in the early 1990s with the publication of his book Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Higher Education. He currently serves on the board of the Manhattan Institute, and as a Visitor of Ralston College, a start-up liberal arts college based in Savannah, Georgia.[1] He is Chairman of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale[2] and has also served on the Board of Visitors of St. John's College (Annapolis and Santa Fe) and the board of Transaction Publishers. On May 7, 2019, he was awarded the Bradley Prize in Washington, D.C.[3] On September 12, 2019, he was awarded the Thomas L. Phillips Career Achievement Award [4] from The Fund for American Studies.

Early life and education[edit]

Kimball was educated at Cheverus High School, a Jesuit institution in Portland, Maine, and then at Bennington College, where he received a B.A. in philosophy and classical Greek. After graduating, Kimball attended Yale University, where he earned an M.A. in 1978 and an M.Phil. in 1982 in philosophy.[5]


Kimball lectures widely and is a contributor to many newspapers and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Spectator, The New Criterion, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Sun, Modern Painters, Literary Review, The Public Interest, Commentary, The New York Times Book Review, The Sunday Telegraph, The American Spectator, The Weekly Standard, and The National Interest. Kimball also blogs at The New Criterion's weblog Dispatch.

Some of Kimball's work as a writer is polemical, directed against what he sees as the politicization and "dumbing down" of Western culture and the arts. Many of Kimball's essays in The New Criterion, and in books including Experiments Against Reality and Lives of the Mind, focus on figures from the Western canon whose work he feels has been neglected or misunderstood. These figures include G.C. Lichtenberg, Robert Musil, Walter Pater, Anthony Trollope, Milan Kundera, and P. G. Wodehouse, as well as philosophers and historians such as Plutarch, Hegel, Walter Bagehot, George Santayana, David Stove, Raymond Aron, and Leszek Kołakowski.

Kimball also writes regularly about art. He has written essays on artists including Delacroix, Vuillard, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella, and Robert Rauschenberg. Recently, some of his essays have called for renewed attention to Classical Realism and other contemporary art movements that champion traditional values and techniques of representational art.

In 2012, Kimball edited The New Leviathan, a collection of essays that discusses a variety of conservative political topics. The book carries a preface by George Will and includes contributions from John R. Bolton, Richard Epstein, Victor Davis Hanson, Andrew C. McCarthy, Michael B. Mukasey, Glenn Reynolds, and others.

Kimball endorsed Trump for President.[6] In July 2017, Kimball wrote an article comparing Donald Trump's 2017 speech in Warsaw[7] to the Funeral Oration of Pericles of Athens during the Peloponnesian War.[8] He has been criticized for being "determined to minimize, dispute, divert, and debunk the contention that Donald Trump is a person of bad character."[9] Kimball responded that Trump, "despite his imperfections, is a man of good character" because he repeatedly demonstrated willingness "to storm the cockpit of our corrupt, sclerotic, and increasingly unaccountable governmental apparatus."[10] In 2020, Kimball attracted criticism for promoting the allegation that Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election was due to widespread electoral fraud.[11][12]

Tenured Radicals[edit]

First published in 1990, Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education was updated in 1998 and again in 2008. The most recent third edition includes a new introduction by Kimball as well as the preface to the 1998 edition. The book criticizes the ways in which humanities are taught and studied in American universities. The book argues that modern humanities have become politicized, seeking to subvert "the tradition of high culture embodied in the classics of Western art and thought".[13] Kimball maintains that yesterday's radical thinker has become today's tenured professor carrying out "ideologically motivated assaults on the intellectual and moral substance of our culture".

The book generated controversy, with the New York Times Book Review's Roger Rosenblatt noting, "Mr. Kimball names his enemies precisely...This book will breed fistfights."[14] When it was first published, some of its critics aligned Tenured Radicals with Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students and former Secretary of Education William Bennett's Report on the Humanities in Higher Education. [15]

The Long March[edit]

The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America[16] offers a critical look at the influence of the 1960s on the moral, political, and intellectual life of America. The book discusses the Beat Movement of the 1950s as a precursor the 1960s and treats signal literary and cultural figures of the period from Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, and Charles Reich through Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown, Timothy Leary, Eldridge Cleaver, and Daniel Berrigan. Kimball maintains that the influence of the 1960s did not end with the passing of that decade but rather that it lives on "in our attitudes toward self and country, sex and drugs, manners and morals."

Experiments Against Reality[edit]

Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age[17] is a book criticizing the literary and philosophical foundations of postmodernity. Examining the work of Eliot, Auden, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault and more, Kimball critiques the ways in which these writers deal with what he views as the intellectual and moral deterioration of modernity. He also laments the state of modern culture, focusing his analysis on the realms of contemporary art and academia.

Art's Prospect[edit]

In 2003's Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity,[18] Kimball turns a critical eye towards what he regards as an avant-garde orthodoxy in the art world that tends to drown out the generally quieter voices representing a more traditional practice of art.

Lives of the Mind[edit]

Published in 2002, Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse[19] discusses the work of intellectuals and philosophers as various as Raymond Aron, Plutarch, and Walter Bagehot to Descartes, Schiller, Hegel, Santayana, and Tocqueville to illustrate Walter Bagehot's observation that "In the faculty of writing nonsense stupidity is no match for genius."

Rape of the Masters[edit]

Published in 2004, The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art[20] is a critical account of contemporary academic art history and its infatuation with "theory" and the "transgressive" at the expense of aesthetic appreciation and a traditional view of the ennobling resources of art.

The Fortunes of Permanence[edit]

In The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia, published in 2012, Kimball discussed the cultivation of the mind as an explicitly religious endeavor with regard to inherited cultural instructions.[21] Writing about The Fortunes of Permanence, Michael Uhlmann wrote that "If it weren't otherwise already apparent, the publication of The Fortunes of Permanence confirms Roger Kimball's status as America's foremost cultural critic. In truth, 'cultural critic,' as that term is commonly employed, hardly does justice to the breadth and depth of an essayist whose keen observations range comfortably and gracefully across politics, history, religion, philosophy, education, literature, and art."[22]

List of works[edit]

As author[edit]

As editor and contributor[edit]

  • Who Rules?: Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the Twenty-First Century, edited and with an introduction by Roger Kimball, Encounter Books: New York, 2020.
  • Vox Populi: The Perils and Promises of Populism, edited by Roger Kimball, Encounter Books: New York, 2017.
  • The Consequences of Richard Weaver, Foreword to an expanded edition of "Ideas Have Consequences" by Richard Weaver University of Chicago Press: Chicago 2013.
  • "Mental Hygiene and Good Manners: The Contribution of George Santayana," in The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy and Character and Opinion in the United States, edited by James Seaton, Yale University Press: New Haven, 2009.
  • Counterpoints: 25 Years of The New Criterion on Art and Culture, co-edited by Roger Kimball & Hilton Kramer, Ivan R. Dee: Chicago, 2007.
  • Lengthened Shadows: America and Its Institutions in the Twenty-first Century, co-edited by Roger Kimball & Hilton Kramer, Encounter Books: San Francisco, 2004.
  • The Survival of Culture: Permanent Values in a Virtual Age co-edited by Roger Kimball & Hilton Kramer, Ivan R. Dee: Chicago 2002.
  • The Betrayal of Liberalism: How the Disciples of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Politics of Coercion and Control, co-edited by Roger Kimball & Hilton Kramer, Ivan R. Dee: Chicago, 2000
  • The Future of the European Past co-edited by Roger Kimball & Hilton Kramer Ivan R. Dee: Chicago 1997.
  • Against the Grain: The New Criterion on Art and Intellect in the Twentieth Century co-edited by Roger Kimball & Hilton Kramer, Ivan R. Dee: Chicago 1994.

As editor[edit]


  1. ^ "Ralston College | Home | To think is to be free".
  2. ^ "Home | Buckley Program".
  3. ^ "Roger Kimball 2019 Bradley Prize Winner".
  4. ^ "TFAS Journalism Awards Dinner | Sept. 12, 2019".
  5. ^ "John Templeton Foundation: Participants". John Templeton Foundation. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  6. ^ "Why I joined the list of intellectuals for Trump". The Spectator. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  7. ^ "Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland". Retrieved November 10, 2019 – via National Archives.
  8. ^ "Donald Trump as Pericles". American Greatness. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  9. ^ Jonah Goldberg "Obscuring the Issue of Trump's Character" National Review January 2, 2019
  10. ^ Kimball, Roger (February 7, 2021). "The Character That Matters". American Greatness. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Friedberg, Aaron L.; Schonfeld, Gabriel (10 November 2020). "Donald Trump's Last (?) Big Lie". The Bulwark. Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021. Roger Kimball, editor of the New Criterion and Encounter Books, sees a vast conspiracy at work: “The forces arrayed behind Biden knew that the whole bureaucracy of the state—the poll workers and postal workers in battleground states, for example—would be on board for Biden and would be carefully coached in deploying techniques to manufacture or suppress ballots, as necessary, and skew the vote.”
  12. ^ Chavez, Linda (10 December 2020). "The "Intellectual" Right's Assault on Democracy". The Bulwark. Archived from the original on 13 February 2021. Roger Kimball, who is publisher of Encounter Books and won the prestigious 2019 Bradley Prize “for advancing liberty and preserving democratic culture,” has amplified claims of suspicious vote tallies in multiple jurisdictions, mostly cities with large black populations.
  13. ^ Kimball, Roger (2008). Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. p. 322. ISBN 978-1-56663-796-1.
  14. ^ Rosenblatt, Roger. "The Universities Under Attack". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Kimball, Roger (2001). The Long March: How the Culutral Revolution of the 1960s Changed America. New York, NY: Encounter Books. p. 326. ISBN 978-189355-430-6.
  17. ^ Kimball, Roger (2000). Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee. p. 368. ISBN 978-1-56663-430-4.
  18. ^ Kimball, Roger (2002). Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee. p. 384. ISBN 978-1-56663-509-7.
  19. ^ Kimball, Roger (2003). Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee. p. 288. ISBN 978-1-56663-479-3.
  20. ^ Kimball, Roger (2005). The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art. New York, NY: Encounter Books. p. 200. ISBN 978-159403-121-2.
  21. ^ Kimball, Roger (2012). The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press. p. 360. ISBN 978-1-58731-256-4.
  22. ^ "Wisdom of the Ages". Claremont Review of Books. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

External links[edit]