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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Sept. 21, 2019

Articles of Note

Few mid-century Jewish intellectuals featured Jewishness in their work, and fewer still made it the culmination of their intellectual journey. Irving Kristol was differen... more »


New Books

A new biography of Frank Lloyd Wright is convincing about his artistic greatness — and devastating about his essential humanity... more »


Essays & Opinions

Every second of every day, someone is complaining about bias, pointing to evidence that justifies outrage. This arms race in cultural analysis is unwinnable... more »


Sept. 20, 2019

Articles of Note

Want to be a writer? Have I got the workshop for you: renowned chef, massages, inspiration, camaraderie, and quiet. Oh, it'll cost $3,500... more »


New Books

The internet asks us to optimize our appearance, to banish our “dark corners”; it turns our basic humanity into an exploitable viral asset... more »


Essays & Opinions

The road to dictatorship is depressingly predictable. But there is one quality that distinguishes modern tyranny: the cult of personality... more »


Sept. 19, 2019

Articles of Note

Is meritocracy a pernicious myth that stalls social mobility, entrenches an undeserving elite, and undermines public trust in higher education?... more »


New Books

The Yale philosopher Martin Hägglund’s call for “secular faith” is heartfelt. It is also monotonous and out of touch... more »


Essays & Opinions

There are two ways of telling the story of celebrity. The first is that it's modern. The second is that it's ancient. Both are true... more »


Sept. 18, 2019

Articles of Note

The German artist George Grosz warned against Hitler in the ’20s and Western appeasement in the ’30s. Why didn’t anyone listen?... more »


New Books

How we learn to write less badly. So much of the instruction and its fealty to fossilized rules are foolish and counterproductive... more »


Essays & Opinions

After Rawls. He is the central figure in political philosophy, despite a sea change in our political reality. It’s time for something new... more »


Sept. 17, 2019

Articles of Note

Consider the bathtub. "Baths are transformative or transportative, as though they might stroll away on their own claw-footed legs"... more »


New Books

Susan Sontag, envied by many, was without illusions about herself. She reviled her unattractive qualities. Not that she changed her ways... more »


Essays & Opinions

Walter Gropius was mocked by his first wife, scorned by art critics, and pushed out of Harvard — all before Tom Wolfe’s character assassination... more »


Sept. 16, 2019

Articles of Note

James Bennet makes party chat; an MSNBC anchor deplores "cancel culture"; John Podhoretz complains about Twitter: a Bari Weiss book party... more »


New Books

The splendor and misery of Ivan Turgenev's love life. He said he could feel love only when a woman’s heel was pushing his neck into the mud... more »


Essays & Opinions

What comes after liberalism? A network of Catholic conservative thinkers sees in our grim present the opportunity for a better world... more »


Sept. 14, 2019

Articles of Note

An inescapable fact of 20th-century classical music is its overwhelming whiteness. But the buried history of black composers is coming to light... more »


New Books

What lifted Anne Frank's diary above so many other accounts of the Holocaust? Her remarkably intimate descriptions of coming of age in a kind of cage... more »


Essays & Opinions

The political class feared John Ruskin’s anticapitalist thinking. “If we do not crush him … a moral floodgate may fly open and drown us all”... more »


Sept. 13, 2019

Articles of Note

The latest whiz-bang invention from MIT’s Media Lab: a computer that can grow any food. Is this Theranos for plants?... more »


New Books

From the “Golden Age” of TV to “Peak TV,” two constants remain: an escape from reality and the quest for commerce... more »


Essays & Opinions

Eras of elite higher education: Christian college. Gentlemen’s college. Consumer’s college. Now a new era: Comfort college... more »


Sept. 12, 2019

Articles of Note

One night in 1954, after copious amounts of sherry, the quantum physicist Hugh Everett came up with the Many-Worlds theory. It quickly ruined his career... more »


New Books

During his attenuated lifetime, George Gershwin was the most modern guy around; 82 years later — guess what — he still is... more »


Essays & Opinions

In the 1920s, Arendt was Heidegger’s “wood nymph.” When they met again in 1949, she found him childish and dishonest, a recluse lost in the hills... more »


Sept. 11, 2019

Articles of Note

Orwell on the run. Spies and collaborators were everywhere. What allowed him to escape Spain in 1937 was police incompetence... more »


New Books

Malcolm Gladwell’s critics often accuse him of oversimplification. But he's really a master of obfuscation, imposing complexity on everyday life... more »


Essays & Opinions

Cutting edge linguistics research once meant an astute-eared German grocer surveying the nation by bicycle. Today, data miners do the legwork... more »


Sept. 10, 2019

Articles of Note

How two erudite, polished, well-connected New York hustlers conspired to publish the most notorious book in the world and change the definition of obscenity forever... more »


New Books

Susan Sontag urged us to avoid the “crude trap” of linking a woman’s appearance to her intellect. An irony, then, that her biographer falls into it... more »


Essays & Opinions

"For most of his life, Wendell Berry has written as a kind of elegist, detailing the tragic path that we have taken and recalling other paths now mostly fading"... more »


Sept. 9, 2019

Articles of Note

Want to succeed at the mother of all tech incubators, Stanford University? Don’t sleep. Read René Girard (or at least pretend to). And brown-nose relentlessly... more »


New Books

George Orwell was a democratic socialist all his life. So why are 1984 and Animal Farm commonly read as indictments of socialism?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Poetry has grown boring, narcissistic, and precious — in short, easy to hate. It must recover its immediate, electric power... more »


Sept. 7, 2019

Articles of Note

Classical music is a high-water mark for culture. Being a classical musician, however, is a job — a crappy job... more »


New Books

“Free time” has become “recovery time,” to get ready to go back to work. True idleness is a more radical and complex endeavor... more »


Essays & Opinions

Insults fly, the rowdy crowd beckons. But public incivility is truly righteous only under certain philosophical conditions... more »


Sept. 6, 2019

Articles of Note

Robin DiAngelo has been called “the new racial sheriff in town” — but what exactly does $165 for a day at her whiteness workshop buy?... more »


New Books

Lucian Freud, pickup artist. So relentless was his pursuit of women — and their pursuit of him — that it's a marvel he found time to paint... more »


Essays & Opinions

Brown-corduroy suits, literary orthodoxy, and lots of D.H. Lawrence — inside the Leavisites’ ludicrous attempt to direct the reading public... more »


Sept. 5, 2019

Articles of Note

What killed Alexander the Great? Historical theories abound, but perhaps it was the bowls of wine, the drinking contests, and the 20 toasts... more »


New Books

Oliver Sacks was the most story-driven clinical writer of the age. He also had a curious relationship with facts. “I don’t tell lies, though I may invent the truth”... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Thinking together is riddled with pitfalls," says Agnes Callard, "but we can’t really claim to live together without doing it. That is why we need devil’s advocates"... more »


Sept. 4, 2019

Articles of Note

What attracted scientists to Jeffrey Epstein — his money — is obvious. But was there more to it than that? A few clues can be found on a strange website... more »


New Books

Empathy is a vague beat on which to build a writing career, but that's what Leslie Jamison did. Has she now lost faith in the ideals on which she staked her brand?... more »


Essays & Opinions

How exactly do literary prizes influence consumers’ book buying and academics' attention? Three professors crunched the numbers to find out... more »


Sept. 3, 2019

Articles of Note

For the Greeks, it was the poets who gave meaning to the god Eros. And none was more gifted than Sappho... more »


New Books

Christianity's role in shaping the Western mind is a story of seemingly inconsequential events signaling grander things to come... more »


Essays & Opinions

Reading as therapy. Told to rest, a critic discovers that a personal, patient approach to literature can yield unexpected insight... more »


Sept. 2, 2019

Articles of Note

Georges Simenon wrote nearly 200 novels. Hitchcock telephoned one day and was told, "Sorry, he’s just started a novel." "I’ll wait,’ came the reply... more »


New Books

Vasily Grossman, chronicler of Soviet crimes, was also a master of psychological complexity and sensory detail... more »


Essays & Opinions

On March 27, 1961, Paul Robeson was found in the bathroom of a Moscow hotel with slit wrists and a razor blade in hand. Why did he try to kill himself?... more »


Aug. 31, 2019

Articles of Note

Anecdote huckster and faux intellectual, or a genius sharing novel insights? Malcolm Gladwell reaches a professional tipping point ... more »


New Books

What do we get from minor literary characters like Hamlet’s Queen Gertrude or Monsieur Bovary? A way to see the world together... more »


Essays & Opinions

What does it mean to be serious? Who decides? How Emily Nussbaum uses the unseriousness of television to expose the machinations of seriousness more generally... more »


Aug. 30, 2019

Articles of Note

Philip Larkin referred to his childhood as a “forgotten boredom.” Accompanied, however, by rage, fear, embarrassment, guilt, resentment, and shame... more »


New Books

Thomas Chatterton Williams has a knack for eluding pigeonholes, blurring boundaries, and impaling pieties about race. Is he nimble, naïve, or foolish?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Peanuts, the philosophy: Life is hard. People are difficult. Happiness can and probably will vaporize. The best response: Laugh and keep moving... more »


Aug. 29, 2019

Articles of Note

Can books kill? They seemed to do just that during the “great book scare” of the 1890s — a mass panic over diseases spread by libraries... more »


New Books

Klaus Fuchs was a brilliant, high-minded nuclear physicist. He was also history’s most dangerous spy... more »


Essays & Opinions

Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, was published in 1959 under the name of Philip Rieff. For decades Susan Sontag claimed she wrote “every single word”... more »


Aug. 28, 2019

Articles of Note

Mary Kay Wilmers, editor of the LRB, having read more than a few reviews of novels, has thoughts about where critics go wrong — and right... more »


New Books

When should novelists hang it up? Consider the increasingly wobbly, bloated work of Salman Rushdie, a writer in free fall... more »


Essays & Opinions

The overtly political novel — genre of Orwell, Ayn Rand, Upton Sinclair — is thoroughly out of fashion. Does it deserve to be saved?... more »


Aug. 27, 2019

Articles of Note

For Walter Benjamin, archives were no safe space. Historical work was inherently dangerous, requiring a “tiger’s leap into the past”... more »


New Books

"When a book sits next to the internet, its authority as the final word on anything is automatically undermined." But you can't pop a cyst with a phone... more »


Essays & Opinions

The doctrine of the market — all desires are equal, all value only opinion — has led to the sacrifice of aesthetic judgment on the altar of consumer preference... more »


Aug. 26, 2019

Articles of Note

We are moving into a “soulless future” as art, literature, and religion recede from the public square — or so frets Camille Paglia?... more »


New Books

Has Anthony Kronman written the most undiplomatic attack on diversity in the academy ever produced by a senior university official?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Second Sex at 70. De Beauvoir, who claimed that a woman’s life should not be reduced to an erotic plot, has been reduced to an erotic plot... more »


Aug. 24, 2019

Articles of Note

Sartre and crabs. “After I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time.” For help he turned to Lacan... more »


New Books

Anarchism has been among the most daring, imaginative political currents of the modern age. Terry Eagleton explains... more »


Essays & Opinions

From Babel to Orwell, Mao to Borges, the Cold War had a literary front. As Solzhenitsyn put it, books were “as dangerous as atom bombs”... more »


Aug. 23, 2019

Articles of Note

Rudyard Kipling slowly became “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.” Was his time in America to thank for that?... more »


New Books

In investigating its subject, a book invokes Freud, Heidegger, geography, and the nature of home. The matter at hand? Pigeons ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Apocalypse chic. Being radical used to be hard work. Now all one needs to do is succumb, conspicuously, to hopelessness... more »


Aug. 22, 2019

Articles of Note

Is “world literature“” a framework for engaging works one might otherwise neglect, or just an excuse to raid and profit off international writing?... more »


New Books

In America, science was shaped by the CIA, the State Department, and the Cold War. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily without intellectual integrity... more »


Essays & Opinions

Where books matter. Americans usually assume that literature exists to depict life, while Russians often speak as if life exists to provide material for literature... more »


Aug. 21, 2019

Articles of Note

The case of the counterfeit Animal Farm. Inundated with fakes, Amazon says authors and publishers will have to police the market... more »


New Books

To understand Whitman’s impact on present-day writing, look no further than a poetic project on delight — delight in cardinals, in log piles, in nicknames... more »


Essays & Opinions

No, Sally Rooney is not the “great millennial novelist.” This generation is too diverse for that — its books seek specific audiences, not universal ones... more »


Aug. 20, 2019

Articles of Note

During World War I, Thomas Mann performed “intellectual military service” for Germany; by World War II, he was Hitler’s personal antagonist... more »


New Books

Lincoln was out of his depth politically. Moral hazard in banking isn’t a serious threat. Walter Bagehot had a talent for epic miscalculation... more »


Essays & Opinions

Alcoholic writers are mythologized — but consider their pain. “Heavy drinking is a substitute for companionship,” Bukowski said, “and it’s a substitute for suicide”... more »


Aug. 19, 2019

Articles of Note

Our Graham in Havana. Graham Greene’s interventions in Cuban politics were hardly fictional — he actually contributed to Batista’s downfall... more »


New Books

The intellectual coward. Victor Serge knew the type: playing word games, dabbling in fashionable politics, inciting “nothing but a revolt of literary cafes”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Charles Sanders Peirce was an intellectual titan, an American Aristotle. His obscurity stems from the abstruseness of his ideas and the machinations of his rivals... more »