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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, 2021

Articles of Note

Byron, Shelley, and the strange prominence of poets and poetry in the Greek War of Independence... more »


New Books

“As long as we can want, we are not yet lost,” says Becca Rothfeld. “Wanting often wounds us, but it can also give us wings”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Left-wing orthodoxy from the Einaudi publishing house once dominated the Italian literary landscape. Then a rival emerged  ... more »


Sept. 20, 2021

Articles of Note

“Utopian fervor can spread through the social order like wildfire,” says Robert Darnton. “Something similar took place in the French Revolution”  ... more »


New Books

The Dickens style. Trollope called it “jerky, ungrammatical, and created by himself in defiance of rules.” But rule-breaking was essential to Dickens’s art  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

In an era obsessed with the political responsibility of the artist, remember what’s lost when art is used for politics. Remember Thomas Mann... more »


Sept. 18, 2021

Articles of Note

The Clement Greenberg problem: A modern critic’s single most lucrative move is to announce the newest new thing  ... more »


New Books

The book index, a creation of the late Middle Ages, has been causing excitement and trouble ever since  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

When American newsrooms changed “black” to “Black,” was it a radical, substantive shift in politics — or a signal of faux solidarity?... more »


Sept. 17, 2021

Articles of Note

“Annotate the world!” declared the web start-up Genius, which was seen as the future of journalism. Things soon went south... more »


New Books

The Lake District has long been a mecca for literary tourists. Does it risk becoming an “ecological disaster,” a mere “sheep museum”?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The case for classroom trigger warnings has a significant problem: They don’t seem to work... more »


Sept. 16, 2021

Articles of Note

John Gray: “While Western liberalism may be largely defunct, illiberal Western ideas are shaping the future”   ... more »


New Books

Occam and his razor. Is simplicity always both preferable and closer to the truth?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Novelists once cultivated a distinctive voice. Now they play it safe, embracing precision and betraying authorial anxiety... more »


Sept. 15, 2021

Articles of Note

If you like ebooks, great. If you don't, here's why: ebooks violate the essence of bookiness  ... more »


New Books

In an era crying out for radical thinking, George Packer offers only that damp squib of incrementalism - a defense of liberalism  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Simone de Beauvoir's Inseparable has now been published - against her wishes. It's heavy-handed, schematic, and thin ... more »


Sept. 14, 2021

Articles of Note

Acoustic hallucinations; sudden, inexplicable paralysis; crippling psychoses: A strange peek inside post-Hitler Germany... more »


New Books

In defense of judgment. It is an unavoidable feature of our deepest aesthetic experiences, and it shapes who we are  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Workers are tired of finding new ways to optimize their labor - and yet our productivity culture demands ever more  ... more »


Sept. 13, 2021

Articles of Note

Franz Liszt, witty, handsome, charismatic. Women were said to carry his discarded cigar butts in their cleavage  ... more »


New Books

Early epidemiology was infused with racism, bigotry, and an imperial mindset. The U.S. Sanitary Commission is a case in point... more »


Essays & Opinions

When Randall Kennedy enunciates the N-word in class, he does so with a pedagogical purpose in mind... more »


Sept. 11, 2021

Articles of Note

Autocomplete and other AI-based writing offend our literary taste. But so much of our literary history has relied on the very clichés we now decry... more »


New Books

Shakespeare is our most recognizable literary cliché. Why do we still read him? Why do we still care? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

It is sobering to contemplate how the meaning of a word can be corrupted into its opposite. Consider performative... more »


Sept. 10, 2021

Articles of Note

A tide of talented Black journalists, historians, artists, directors, novelists, and poets has risen to meet the urgency of our moment ... more »


New Books

Carl Zimmer's science writing is erudite, charming — and impenetrably sealed off from difficult political questions  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

There’s much to dislike about the irascible, virulently anti-Semitic Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Why do some carry on his defense?  ... more »


Sept. 9, 2021

Articles of Note

The American National Ballet promised its dancers world class facilities, TV appearances, and other “big things.” It delivered rather less... more »


New Books

The problem with the CDC was precisely its prestige: It was determined to say or do nothing that might endanger its reputation”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Four issues, 104 essays and poems, 1,400 pages: Let us now consider the journal Liberties, uncharitably... more »


Sept. 8, 2021

Articles of Note

“My father is a fly.” “Are you a hare?” Ancient Roman humor is lame, conservative, and head-scratching   ... more »


New Books

D.H. Lawrence is considered reactionary, racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. Can a new biography by France Wilson salvage his reputation?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Cultural elites are globally minded, liberal, and prone to self-critique. The power elites who make the most important decisions are entirely different   ... more »


Sept. 7, 2021

Articles of Note

Kathryn Paige Harden understands the odious implications of linking genetics to social outcomes. But that doesn’t mean genetic differences don’t matter... more »


New Books

Susan Sontag once wrote that photography had become a way of “refusing experience”; porn has become a way of refusing intimacy... more »


Essays & Opinions

Assuming we can’t uninvent social media, we’re left with a question: Can it become a politically productive space?... more »


Sept. 6, 2021

Articles of Note

Inferring a gene’s-eye view of evolution has endured decades of criticism. Yet it remains one of biology’s most powerful thinking tools ... more »


New Books

Foucault arrived in Warsaw in 1958. A year later, he was ensnared in a secret operation and fled the country. What happened?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Stoics were wrong: A failure to mourn is an act of treason, the violation of a duty. Leon Wieseltier on grief  ... more »


Sept. 4, 2021

Articles of Note

Adam Smith was a secular genius, even though his thinking was influenced by religious beliefs he didn’t share  ... more »


New Books

Book wars. “What happens when the oldest of our media industries collides with the great technological revolution of our time?”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Among the Beethovenites. Upon his death, a creepy fabulist concocted a life  ... more »


Sept. 3, 2021

Articles of Note

The empathy riddle. Witnessing injustice can just as easily hinder responsible political action as spur it   ... more »


New Books

What springs to mind when we think of Hemingway? “Bullfight,” “war wound,” “shotgun,” “drinking” — but also “craft”... more »


Essays & Opinions

We talk about race as closed off to interpretation and social reinvention. And so race talk is apart from the humanities... more »


Sept. 2, 2021

Articles of Note

Torn between the esoteric Judaism of Scholem and the materialism of Brecht, Walter Benjamin was a Marxist awaiting the Messiah  ... more »


New Books

The sins of G.K. Chesterton. He was convivial, generous, sharply intelligent, and unforgivably anti-Semitic... more »


Essays & Opinions

In the fiction of both Ben Lerner and Sheila Heti, artists fall comically flat. But such “punchline aesthetics” are culturally elite and racially coded  ... more »


Sept. 1, 2021

Articles of Note

Last year the Poetry Foundation and the book critics' circle were roiled by debates over race. Now similar drama has erupted in the Romance Writers of America... more »


New Books

The downward trajectory of Robert Walser. Why did the Swiss modernist writer come to revile his own work?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Intellectual life is now policed by a new mob justice. If you make a mistake, expect punishment and ostracism - not forgiveness  ... more »


Aug. 31, 2021

Articles of Note

“The news that a well-known study on dishonesty was based on a lie is, as ironies go, almost too perfect” ... more »


New Books

For John Keats, literature was life. For F. Scott Fitzgerald, everything alive became literature. From both, literature exacted a high price... more »


Essays & Opinions

Is reading all seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time a way of merely renouncing the wider world?  ... more »


Aug. 30, 2021

Articles of Note

“Self-help for the aspiring ratiocinator.” What to think about the raft of books that purport to train us to be better thinkers... more »


New Books

Artificial intelligence attracts megalomaniacs, inspiring both overblown promises and existential angst. Enter Jeannette Winterson ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Exhausted by all the rancor? Try poetry. It restores the value of words in a culture intent on cheapening them  ... more »


Aug. 28, 2021

Articles of Note

“I like an example that’s a pure counterintuitive,” says Zeynep Tufekci. “But in reality, they’re almost never true”  ... more »


New Books

If America is in the grip of an epistemological crisis, is there any evidence that philosophy can help? No ... more »


Essays & Opinions

When Raymond Williams died, his influence seemed sure to endure. Then it dwindled — disastrously  ... more »


Aug. 27, 2021

Articles of Note

Since the 1970s, America has seen the rise of a curious coterie of political thinkers: elite anti-intellectuals... more »


New Books

In 1470, a printer in Cologne published a short sermon and changed everything. He included page numbers... more »


Essays & Opinions

Remember when the Jonathans -- Franzen, Lethem, Safran Foer -- first roamed the earth? Novelists could still have careers as novelists   ... more »


Aug. 26, 2021

Articles of Note

For years a clever thief has plagued the publishing world. No one knows who it is, but everyone has a theory  ... more »


New Books

Marie Aymard, born in 1713, was a shopkeeper's illiterate daughter. Can her story tell the story of France? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

When high culture was in high regard, joining the counterculture meant rejecting its values. Now high culture is the counterculture... more »


Aug. 25, 2021

Articles of Note

Denis Donoghue was an opponent of what he called the “political turn in criticism.” But he wasn’t indifferent to politics  ... more »


New Books

The romance between Sartre and Beauvoir was haunted by the friend whom she wrote about again and again  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Eric Rohmer’s films tend to be all talk and no sex. But embracing restraint, he recovered eroticism  ... more »


Aug. 24, 2021

Articles of Note

The legacy of the Jewish quota at colleges is how beliefs about merit that were defined by race were redefined under a new banner: “diversity”  ... more »


New Books

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was no lovesick confessional poet, passive victim, or weak invalid. Quite the contrary  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“I wonder if, like the church, the humanities can’t really do without overpromising,” says Len Gutkin. “Otherwise people might stop believing in us”  ... more »


Aug. 23, 2021

Articles of Note

“This is not what real data look like, and we can’t think of a plausible benign explanation for it.” Was a landmark study about dishonesty faked?  ... more »


New Books

1851 was a turning point for Charles Dickens and how he thought of the novel.  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

How did “Let people enjoy things” evolve from an annoying internet meme to an all-out campaign against negative criticism? B.D. McClay explains  ... more »


Aug. 21, 2021

Articles of Note

Hum, frump, prat, bilk, hoax: Whatever you call it, were 18th-century Britons uniquely gullible?  ... more »


New Books

What makes a WASP a WASP? Patrician bloodlines, political and cultural influence, and, it seems, neurosis  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Frankfurt School comprised impotent professors issuing scarcely comprehensible jeremiads. So why is it thought to be so powerful?  ... more »


Aug. 20, 2021

Articles of Note

Hard-working spinster jilted by publisher after years of faithful service: The Barbara Pym story... more »


New Books

What would Richard Rorty say about America’s political predicament? Some new translations offer our clearest account   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“The human impulse is to look for order, but there isn’t any,” says Ann Patchett. “People come and go”  ... more »


Aug. 19, 2021

Articles of Note

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus is known as a great work of philosophy. Is it also an immaculate volume of modernist poetry?  ... more »


New Books

It was Richard Feynman’s belief that no one understands quantum physics. Perhaps explaining it is even more difficult than understanding it  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

In a just world, says Jonny Thakkar, the college where he teaches wouldn’t exist. “The mere possibility would be regarded as obscene” ... more »


Aug. 18, 2021

Articles of Note

Robert Burton kept returning to the subject of melancholy because writing helped him assuage his own despair... more »


New Books

Building an art collection is akin to building an identity. What happens when that collection is looted?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

How to run a collective fantasy racket: make outrageous promises, woo and criticize followers, frame everything in apocalyptic terms... more »