Robert Wernick, St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Robert Wernick
Notes of a Sciolist on Things Past and Passing and to Come

"Things past and passing and to come" are what the golden birds sing about in the William Butler Yeats poem Sailing to Byzantium "to keep a drowsy emperor awake."

Robert Wernick has for many years been taking notes on these things and offering a number of them (three hundred and sixty-one at the latest count) to drowsy readers of Life, Harper's Bazaar, The Saturday Evening Post, The Kenyon Review, Readers' Digest, Connoisseur, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, The Territorial Enterprise, Encounter, Sports Illustrated, Minotaure, Quest, The Times of Malta, Cahiers d'Hermeutique postmoderne, Venture, The New Republic and other periodicals.

He also owes the word sciolist, which means a person with a great deal of superficial knowledge, to Yeats, who complained once to Lady Gregory that too many people were coming to see one of his plays. There were only one hundred people, he said, who could understand what he was saying, the rest were all sciolists, pickpockets or opinionated bitches.

This web-site opens its democratic arms to all four categories.

New Articles

Four Cheers for Dame Gossip

The Grandmother of Us All

A disorderly and gossipy analysis of an activity which remains, whatever you have heard about it, the fourth most common of all human activities after eating, drinking and sex; which antedates religion politics war education and taxes; which created language in the first place, will outlive the Internet, and deserves your serious attention to-day.

Cheer I: Dame Gossip in Our Lives
  1. The Illustrious Lineage and Bad Name of Gossip
  2. The Genealogy of Gossip
  3. Critique of Pure Gossip
  4. Critique of Practical Gossip
Cheer II. Gossip as History
  1. History in Gossip
  2. Gossip in History
Cheer III. Gossip as Literature
  1. The Dark Ages of Gossip
  2. Gossip Redux
  3. The Golden Age of Gossip
  4. The Land of Dreams
  5. Gossip in Poetry
Cheer IV. Gossip as Commodity
  1. Winchell's Way
  2. Winchell's Progeny
  3. The Age of Blog (coming soon)


  1. Adam's Fall
    Who shot the albatross?

  2. Art of the Interview
    The Making of a Journalist

  3. Yelling Consonants
    The End of Art in Our Time

A Book of Loners

  1. Uncle Mike
    And the Chocolate Bar of Queen Victoria

  2. Mister Mac
    Death and Life in the Oil Fields

  3. Johnny Hopper
    His War Against the Germans

  4. Diego Giacometti
    His Brother's Brother


  1. A Memory of Marilyn Monroe
    On a Ferris Wheel

  2. A Memory of Molly Howe
    The Faery Child and the IRA foot

  3. A Memory of Sam Beckett

  4. Cambronne Picnic
    The End of the World in June 1940

  5. Two French Lessons
    In Menlo Park. In Paris.

  6. Dada's Dada
    Memory of Tristan Tzara.

  7. Dr. Fraad
    Not Fraud or Freud.

Historical Footnotes

  1. The Rise and Fall of the Devil
    Since his creation by the prophet Zarthustra in the Sixth Century B.C.
    1. The Devil Up
    2. The Devil Down

  2. The Day the Roman Empire Fell
    The Lynching of Andronicus I Comnenus on September 14, 1185

  3. The Horny Priest of Montaillou
    Sex and heresy and retribution in the 14th century AD

  4. Richard III
    Villain or Victim?

  5. The Encyclopédie
    Open Season on the Wisdom of the Ages

  6. The South Sea Bubble
    The New Economy in the Eighteenth Century

  7. Summit Conferences
    From Richard the Lion Heart to Ronald Reagan and beyond

  8. Yalta
    What did and did not happen there

  9. The Bell Tolled at Brunete
    How Franco won his civil war

  10. Fanny Kemble Wins the Civil War
    After four months on St. Simons Island.

  11. Lepenski Vir
    The Birth of Sculpture and Town Planning on a Mesolithic Ledge

  12. Sinai
    The Mountain of the Lord

  13. The Jewish Diaspora
    A dead past alive in Tel Aviv

  14. John Marshall, Chief Justice
    And the Creation of the American Nation

  15. The Icelandic Sagas
    And the birth of the Icelandic nation

  16. The Return of the Corn God
    After 157 sexless years in the White House

  17. "I Know Nothing"
    Americans Kick the Pope in 1846

Mediterranean Scenes

  1. Carthage Burning
    How empires die

  2. Malta
    The birthplace of architecture

  3. Cyprus
    The birthplace of love

  4. Corsica
    Isle of Beauty, Isle of Bandits

American Scenes

  1. Big Sur
    Life on the Edge

  2. Reno
    The Good Life in the Great American Desert

  3. Tom Benton
    Down the Wide Missouri with an old SOB

  4. Biltmore
    The House that Vanderbilt

  5. Monticello
    The Dream House of a Dilettante

  6. MOMA
    New World's In Birth.

French Scenes

  1. Sarzay
    Everyman his own chatelain

  2. Roquefort
    Where the Cheese Come From

  3. An Excursion in the Pyrenees
    What they do in the mountains

  4. The Fatal House-Warming

  5. The Lady of Vix
    Life in the Top Drawer in 500 BC

Brief Lives

  1. Le Douanier Rousseau
    Picasso in human form

  2. Goya
    The Light and the Blackness

  3. The Real William Tell
    Was he a Dane or an Icelander or a Celtic Mother Goddess?

  4. The Tragedy of Camille Claudel
    From Wuthering Heights to the Madhouse

  5. Salvador Dali
    1. Dali lives
      In the Hotel Meurice in Paris
    2. Dali dies
      In Cadaquès in Catalonia

  6. Ezra Pound
    The treason trial that never was

  7. Paul Klee
    And his Twittering Machine

  8. George Sand
    The first woman to wear pants in public

  9. Count No-Count Esterhazy
    The Man who created the Dreyfus Case

  10. Pushkin
    Russia's everlasting poet

  11. Ludwig Bemelmans
    a.k.a. Madeline

  12. Joe Pilates
    How to be an Animal

  13. Toulouse-Lautrec
    The noble dwarf

  14. Philip Equality
    The godfather of radical chic

  15. Call him Ishmael
    Darkness at Noon for Herman Melville

  16. Juliet Lives Here
    And will answer your letters

  17. Goxwa Borg
    Graffiti of Eternity

  18. Joseph Cornell
    The Lightfoot Boxer

  19. Chagall
    The Fiddler on Your Roof.

  20. Montesquieu
    The Godfather of the American Constitution.

Building Blocks of Civilization

  1. Pepper
    How It Made the World Sneeze

  2. Smokestacks
    Pillars of Western Civilization

  3. Sound Bites
    Yesterday and Today and Forever

Royal Scenes

  1. The Escorial
    Philip II's Offering to God and Empire

  2. Ravenna
    The Artifice of Eternity

  3. Versailles
    The Sun King Shines Again


  1. Nightmares
    When and Why we have them

  2. The Beaver cometh
    The Last Words of Simone de Beauvoir

  3. Why Not Spoil the Wilderness?
    If We Could

  4. One-Eyed Jacks
    From the giant Polyphemus and the god Odin to the Man in the Hathaway Shirt and Robert Wernick

  5. Conspiracy Theories
    How to recognize them, how to make them

  6. The British Library
    A New Home for the Hub of the Intellectual Universe

  7. An Interview with Jean Genet
    The Gentleman Thief

  8. Rurik Imperial
    A Real-Life Character in a Russian Novel

  9. Gorvidalio
    The Miscreant Mishandled.

Robert Wernick

To the right you see a photograph of the author.

A youthful admirer, seeing this photograph, asked him if anyone had ever told him that he looked like Robert Einstein.

"Who," he asked, "is Robert Einstein?"

"Oh you know," she said impatiently, "the famous poet."

Robert Wernick
St. Simons Island, Georgia 31522