Joe Rago: A Brilliant Mind

 As editor of The Dartmouth Review, and now The New Criterion, I have heard the voices of many Dartmouth writers and editors “with the hill winds in their breath.” Joe was the most Dartmouth of them all.

He cared about culture and the preservation of memory through his writing. For all of his political insights, he was—to me—first and foremost a writer of culture. At The Dartmouth Review, where I was board chairman and he was an editor, he displayed literary and critical gifts that were sui generis and full-formed. His writing was a force of nature.

After graduation, he became ​a ​valued collaborator at The New Criterion, a journal of culture and the arts, and a friend to all of us at the magazine. Joe was a contributor to the pages of The New Criterion since 2006 and, at the time of his death, was the author of our Fiction Chronicle. His final column appeared in our May 2017 number.

Joe was a frequent speaker to the Friends and Young Friends of The New Criterion and a regular presence in our efforts at the magazine, His friendship with several members of our staff went back to his undergraduate years. For all of his genius, he was also modest about his gifts, bemused by his talents, and a welcome and unassuming companion. I can only imagine what he would have written had he lived. His death is a loss to both our personal and literary lives. His brilliance burned bright and was extinguished far too soon.