Stanley’s Literary Larding

Alessandra Stanley used to be a foreign bureau chief and high ranking reporter for the New York Times. Now she’s the TV critic, and Broadcasting and Cable magazine recently had fun looking back at the obscure yet precise literary references she loves to lard her columns with. Below are a few of their choices from the story.

“Jan. 28: The A&E bio of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, See Arnold Run, Stanley points out, is “not a biography of Wittgenstein.” That would be Ludwig Wittgenstein (1881-1951), the Austrian philosopher who did some heavy lifting to produce the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, but never admitted to using steroids.

Jan. 21: Writing about the CBS crime drama Numb3rs, Stanley pauses a moment to mention: “There is an old Neapolitan expression meaning that someone is crazy, ‘Da i numeri’ (‘He gives numbers’). It comes from the lottery. Superstitious ticket buyers in Naples would ask asylum inmates to shout out numbers and then bet on whatever came to those unbalanced minds.” Stanley is the former chief of the Times’ Rome bureau.

But aficionados of Stanley’s writing about television just nodded appreciatively, murmuring thanks once again for Stanley’s daring refusal to be bound by the conventions of TV criticism as she turns her Times platform into a sort of continuing-education course.”