The Arty Semite

Stephen Fry Wrestles With Wagner

By Curt Schleier

Stephen Fry has one of those faces you likely recognize but don’t know why. Did he live in the old neighborhood? Did you go to school with him? Or, as is the case, is he someone almost famous?

Courtesy Wavelength Films

Fry was a Golden Globe nominee for playing the title role in the 1998 film, “Wilde.” He’s also appeared in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and has a role in next year’s Hobbit movie, “The Desolation of Smaug.” But the actor/writer is best known in his native England.

Fry is at the center of a documentary, “Wagner & Me,” opening December 7 in New York and in several other major cities in coming weeks. Fry is a Wagner enthusiast. He claims he was 11 or 12 when he heard his music “on my father’s gramophone. It released forces in me. No music has done it like Wagner’s.”

The problem is that his “passion was shared by Hitler. I’m Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.”

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The Witty Inclemency of Clement Freud

By Benjamin Ivry

When Sir Clement Freud died last spring in London, the U.K. media’s outpouring of affection surprised some readers.

A grandson of Sigmund Freud who was no longer on speaking terms with his brother, the painter Lucian Freud, Sir Clement was a journalist, bon vivant, television personality, and onetime Member of Parliament, but none of his varied identities seemed to account for the genuine affection which he enjoyed. When I asked one British friend for further explanation, I got the faltering reply: “Well, you see, he made a TV commercial for dog food…”

Now, fortunately, the collection “A Feast of Freud: The Wittiest Writings of Clement Freud” appears from Bantam Press UK to explain more. Bantam has also published “Freud on Food,” an anthology of gourmandises by this demanding, highly conspicuous consumer of the good life.

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