This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
WNYC announcer introduces program.
Van Doren introduces Taylor, who talks about "Fifty Centuries of Art" and the Met Museum.
Van Doren introduces the Davises, who talk about "Doctor to the Islands," other travel books, and their time on Rarotonga.
Van Doren introduces Baruch, who talks about his book "Philosophy for Our Time" and answers Van Doren's questions: What does he think is the best way to appraise Soviet strength and intentions? What are the differences in working in a supply-and-demand economy in war time and in peace time? How can nations make use of atomic energy in peaceful times and have assurances against aggression?
WNYC announcer closes the program.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71211
Municipal archives id: LT7300
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Presenting the first of the seasons book and author luncheon transcribed earlier today in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Astor our book and author luncheon features talks by Bernard Baruch elder statesman park bench sage and author of philosophy of our time Francis H. Taylor director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and author of fifty centuries of art and time and Lydia Davis the sailing authors of Dr to the I'm. Here now is I read a Van Doren literary editor of The New York Herald Tribune and mistress of ceremonies for these book and author luncheons Miss Vanhorn in the center city is a great museum all of our lives we've been more or less familiar with its wide halls its many galleries its pictures its sculpture its treasures from all over the world but if you have not been in the past year you are due for a stunning surprise. Last year the city in the museum and some generous private donors undertook the complete remodelling of the museum and the result eminently successful and in some cases breathtakingly beautiful was opened to the public last January I will tell you more of its great new attractions except for the fact that the man who was largely responsible for it all Francis Taylor is here today and he can do it much better and with more authority than I. In addition to many monographs and articles on. Mr Taylor published a few years ago a notable book which he called the taste of Angels A History of collecting from Rameses to Napoleon Mr Taylor's present value is directly related to his work with the museum. He calls it fifty centuries of art and it is a general survey of art from early Egyptian to modern times with three hundred and forty two color reproductions chosen by Mr Taylor and accompanied by his lucid and readable text it is notable that he was able to find two thirds of his illustrative pictures in the Metropolitan Museum itself with great pleasure I introduce to you the author of thirty centuries of art the distinguished director of the Metropolitan Museum of Francis me to a. Vendor on ladies and gentlemen if I may I'm going to speak a little bit about mass communication and response building institutions West great treasures to the great public because I think we have entered into a completely new era where the traditional privacy of art has been with placed. A much greater contact we have at the museum we have since nine hundred forty saying in attendance rise and came on a day from. A little under a million to an average for the past five years of about two and a quarter million and we may very well and the calendar year on December thirty first with between two and three quarters and three million people it's particularly you what does it mean. What does it mean in regard to the whole problem of the visual image and its understanding of what people are thinking about. It I think it might as well face facts I think the visual image is returning almost to a completely different aspect of the pictograph. Which was primitive man's way of recording events and circumstances we are confronted with so many millions of printed words each day in the newspapers and in the books. The visual image is having a much greater impact than it did for instance in the one nine hundred centuries and that is because the process of reproduction of the visual images just so much greater and so much clearer and so much more available to everyone we've had an experiment at museum in the past five and a half years. In which we have distributed some small pictures known as the Metropolitan miniatures in albums those in that five and a half year period six and half million albums and distributed throughout the United States and Canada. And the extraordinary thing about those albums is that I have not been. So well received in the first in a sophisticated set is the eastern seaboard where people have access to the works of art themselves as they have been received and clamor for by people on ranches in the farms by shut ins by people who in a small towns and never had an opportunity to get to see the actual works of art himself. It was the fact that we had these pictures and the copper engravings from which they were made that. Suggested they are there to Mr Canfield who is here today. To Harpers into the trustees the museum. That. Some more permanent form might be made possible by taking these engravings and making a book out of them which would be a quickie a survey of the history of art. Addressed not to S. the it's part of the critics those people whom I think dong Powell described once as the Gallatin because there's a thin layer of jelly between them and the outer world. But two people who probably have never looked at pictures in their largest five people who have never read an art to walk through are on the verge of experiencing that initial thrill of going to organise them for the first time and taking away with them some new experience. Rather abortive a static and intellectual. Emotion which they cannot define themselves but which last with them through their entire lives. But we've been able to do it thanks to the genius of this publishing house and to the having craftsman who printed it and I want to take this opportunity of saying what an extraordinary job I think it is the let me give you a few statistics. There are three hundred forty two illustrations chosen from some two thousand subjects of which the museum had control of the engravings. If this book had been reproduced in color it would have been a twenty five or thirty dollar book. As a result of the fact that we were able to take these plates make electros of them and make a book we had a book which would retail for five dollars In other words a book that was within the grasp of the college student and people of modest means who simply wanted to have something in the house. Now this book was one hundred ninety two pages long that meant three forms of sixty four pages each of those they were printed in sixty four up as he said in the train. International printing of approximately three hundred thousand copies times four colors is a million two hundred thousand times three hundred forty two makes four hundred ten four hundred million registrations. In other words I do not know of any color printing job where there has been that amount of impression and registration ever performed and I think that while there are naturally certain prints that come out better than the others it is a colossal undertaking to have done so successfully but Mr Daniel Bradley and Mr Cheney Harper and others have done in controlling the color and seeing the work through the press. The text as I said is addressed to simple people to people who want the initial experience. But the text really was done with one eye on the television audience on the television screen we have just completed at the Metropolitan an auditorium in which we have added to it a studio for television broadcasting our belief being that exhibitions of works of art. Would be probably the greatest contact with them is it which the museum would have in the future with the American public to have the facilities within the house itself produces Of course the problems of expense and insurance that come from taking these things to studio Well we've already had an experimental hook up with N.B.C. last year related across the country through seventeen cities in which we were able to perform adequately the color of. A color broadcast which was seen by. Those few persons who had color receiving sets and seeing just as well black and white by the rest of the public eye color television is something which is not only in the immediate future it is already here it's going to transform the lives of the rising generations of this country and the whole purpose of this book there's not another high profile high brow book to the literature. But to have something available for the vast and hungry audiences which we know will need and lighten and help in finding their way through the visual image as opposed to the soap opera. To a. If you will look at the South Pacific Ocean on your map you will find thousands of small circles and dots which represent island these islands lying groups the tongue islands the Society Islands the CA time zones and so on. In the Cook Islands there is one we call rock Tanga. It is inhabited by Polynesian people and it is administered from New Zealand. A young boy eleven years old part Polynesian and part Welsh left his native island of Rarotonga to be educated in New Zealand. Sixteen years later he returned a full fledged doctor and with him he took as wife a girl whom he had met in New Zealand and love and married. These young people with Tom and Lydia Davis for six years they lived on the island and struggled under the most primitive in difficult conditions to bring health and welfare to its people. Lydia Davis helped valiantly going from village to village to organize much needed clinics for children finding a dread dreaded epidemic of who can call hooping cough which took the lives of three hundred infant training practical nurse is traveling with Dr Davis to the outlying island to bring some relief to untended leper colony Stalin is teaching Native medical practitioners I'm glad to introduce to you the authors of Dr to the island they both wrote the book as they both shared the life of a gallant young painter. And Lydia Davis I. Think it was some years ago. That I started to write a book all by myself I was going to add it to that was always written by women whose husbands go to do their work in strange places. And it was very pleasant driving and there was no central heating to worry about the air conditioning came from the trade winds that fried down about four sweet little chapters I very proudly showed them to Tom who can't stand travel books written by women. He read them and he gave a loud snort and said Well that is two dimensional it should be three dimensional Well I was too dumb to work that one out and my natural reaction was well do it yourself he said no he wouldn't do it himself but he'd be glad to help so we decided to do a double book we didn't know that has ever been tackled before and we left it at that then we came to Boston in a very unusual way and chose the editor of Atlantic Monthly who is known even in Robert honor to straighten out this dual myths that we were going to tackle but he's just as that we shape our book around married life together which we didn't think was too exciting but we see now is a little unusual and after months and months of arguing and contradictions contradicting and it's a terrible job the editor as you can imagine we came up with a book a south sea island book that in the best tradition has a coconut tree on the cover but a book with this completely true and frankly I'm glamorous perhaps the first I think it's interesting to go back and find out how this tradition of Glam I got stuck on to the South Seas which are very beautiful islands but we didn't find them very glamorous it seems to me that writers in particular always write what they see and they see what they are looking for the first book on the South Seas we ever had was from Captain James Cook he was the first to get there and he was a meticulous observer and gave us a meticulous book. He was followed by the missionaries now I think I can guess what the missionaries are looking for but I wouldn't dare repeat it here because is it to be believed these with the wicked naughty for our tongues and Polynesians started with the palm planes left off so there's nothing glamorous and then. And then we have followed by a trio that I always call the glamour trio which makes my has a very angry that was Robert Louis Stevenson. Jack lab and Herman Melville now millivolts annoyed me because he misspelled his title he called it T Y P E N T A I T. I. Stevenson I cab love I can't love a man that builds a stone castle with fireplaces in a country where it's always ninety two degrees of heat and then at the end of it all he expects the titles are moans to toe his body to the top of the mountain seems unfair I did make a pilgrimage to Stevenson's too but I didn't and there things. And Jack London did inject a note of reality always on the second last page of his short stories which I loved he had this handsome Polynesian hero on his beautiful Polynesian heroines counted off to the temple hospitals but there was a reason for that too because when one was in New Guinea he developed a skin complaint which was never diagnosed and when he got back here he wrote his stories for Atlantic Monthly they actually met good taste and he thought he had leprosy and he was completely obsessed by the side their well received three Gramma boys as I always call them used to annoy me but now I forgive them because they had one thing in common which I now share they all arrived in the South Seas in little yachts to get there they had to cross the Pacific Ocean certainly the easy way but the slow way the first land they hit with the South Sea Islands. Now two or three years ago I was foolish enough that my husband persuade me to cross the Pacific Ocean at its widest point at the coldest part of the year in the most uncomfortable boat and we finished up in K.L. the port of Peru that was six thousand seven hundred fifty miles later sixty eight Days Later and seven or eight knots in my belt later I had always heard the Kiowas one of the least attractive ports of this world if I were ever to write a story with a background of you would swear I was talking about the Garden of Eden I would have nothing said about that place and I'm sure that my family boy still the same way about the Pacific Islands and modern times we have the sublime and the ridiculous the sublime north of Poland Frisbie States all the uncomfortable things but they preferred not to write about them although I I know that all three of them did promise themselves before they died they would tell the world some of the less happy things about the island it might interest you to know that James Norman hall is married to my husband's cousin and that's a thing we found out every week to go. So when we get the ridiculous side of it and there as there are a library shelves full of South Sea books that are ridiculous I think I hit the all time low when I read the last one I read the hero the beautiful handsome shipwrecked sailor hero climbed up a coconut tree and chopped off branches to make a shelter from the rain for he and his beautiful Polynesian sweetheart and that is a remarkable feat because coconuts trees are not trees and they don't have branches. Well Albert is quite different we don't look at the South Seas with a jaundiced eye but because my husband is a doctor and I am at best a bush lawyer we cannot. Look at the beauty of the place without looking behind it we can't look at a beautiful p