Sleuthing word origins has become a game that anyone can play. Now the old founts of linguistic innovation are falling. Poor James Joyce... more »

Cézanne, who grew up in a mountainous region, was a master of line. Turner, from London, was expert in mist and fog. Does geology dictate art?... more »

Critics are unkind to Anna Komnene, the princess who presumed to write military history. It's been suggested not only that her husband wrote her works, but that she plotted fratricide... more »

Somewhere at the uneasy intersection of art and science, Impressionism and empiricism, objectivity and subjectivity, sits the Rorschach test. Behold the blot... more »

Ezra Pound's insanity spared him from execution but condemned him to the asylum. His delusions of conspiracy, persecution, and grandeur speak to the politics of our time... more »

Silicon Valley: Live in a group house, work with a "start-up accelerator," feel like king of the world even if you're running a company that does nothing... more »

At 15, he was a member of the Hitler Youth. At 24, he attacked Heidegger for sympathizing with Nazism. The complicated moral development of Jürgen Habermas... more »

The self-righteousness of literary style guides. They offer advice like “avoid fancy words” but often fail to practice what they preach... more »

The Holocaust survivor and historian Saul Friedländer has been known as Pavel, Pavlícek, Paul, Shaul, and Saül. His many identities can help us understand our own... more »

The Ancient Mariner strangely prophesied the life Coleridge would live. But is it a tale of Christian hope or a drug-fueled nightmare?... more »

Genetic evolution is not enough to explain the skills, power, and versatility of the human mind, says Daniel Dennett. Our minds became modern thanks to cultural memes... more »

Poetry and death. Why are doomed poets -- melancholy, drunken, lascivious, suicidal -- the ones we celebrate?... more »

Step aside, beauty and truth. You were central artistic signifiers for millennia, but no more. The new alpha and omega: identity.... more »

Alexander von Humboldt climbed volcanoes, braved an anthrax epidemic, and negotiated with Napoleon. He wanted to measure everything... more »

Nabokov and Edmund Wilson’s falling out — over translating Pushkin — is often considered silly. But at stake was a serious question: Who owns language?... more »

Depression: Heidegger called it anxiety. Sylvia Plath likened it to being covered with a bell jar. Daphne Merkin experienced “a yawning inner lack." How do you write about a lack?... more »

Over four years, Hemingway evolved from an obscure experimental writer into a literary lion. His letters, pugilistic and patronizing, explain his transformation... more »

Self-confident rogue with a gold hoop in his ear? Disoriented schlub with a vacant stare? What did Shakespeare look like?... more »

Freud and Bacon. Matisse and Picasso. Degas and Manet. Pollock and de Kooning. Friendship between artists is marked by the longing to be close and the need to stand apart... more »

In the small universe of academics who theorize about the true nature of conservatism, the ranks are split by two historiographical enemies: Mark Lilla and Corey Robin ... more »

A corporeal poet, Catullus was privileged, outrageous, and sexually prolific. Appalled to learn that Romans watered down their wine, he wrote a poem about it... more »

A sense of modesty was central to Elizabeth Bishop's art. She published only about 100 poems during her life. "I’ve written poetry more by not writing it than writing it” ... more »

Vinyl-record sales are up and creative types cling to their Moleskines. What if the benefits of digitizing everything turn out to be drawbacks?... more »

Jane Austen's juvenilia. She was bawdy at 14, indulging in lewd intimations and poor taste, and hinting at the sharp irony to come... more »

The penny post, the telegram, email -- all were predicted to be the death of letter writing. Elizabeth Bishop and Philip Larkin shared this anxiety, but their correspondence debunks it... more »

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