A Genius of Temperament

Joseph Epstein, "A Genius of Temperament," The Weekly Standard, October 5, 2009.


As the last of the New York intellectuals depart the planet, it becomes apparent that Irving Kristol, who published less than most of them, had a wider and deeper influence on his time than all of them. Just how and why is not all that clear, but it is so. Nor is it clear how best to describe Irving. He wasn’t a writer exactly, or at least not primarily; neither was he chiefly an editor, though he in fact edited some of the best intellectual magazines of his day. He wrote political journalism, but to call him a political journalist is severely to limit him. That baggy-pants term public intellectual doesn’t do the job, either. He was over his lifetime associated with various institutions–magazines, universities, think tanks–but he always seemed somehow slightly outside of, somehow larger than, all of them.

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