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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Feb. 2, 2023

Articles of Note

The first ordinary woman in English literature, the Wife of Bath gossips, drinks, and tells her husband’s secrets... more »


New Books

"There are two ways to write didactic fiction: with a straight face or playing it for laughs. Rushdie has always gone for the laughs"... more »


Essays & Opinions

The real controversy behind the film The Woman King? The poor state of our knowledge of African history... more »


Feb. 1, 2023

Articles of Note

How a canvas bag with reinforced handles and a flat bottom became a literary trophy and status symbol... more »


New Books

The “Outrider” tradition of peripatetic experimental artists extends from Allen Ginsberg to Amiri Baraka to the poet Anne Waldman... more »


Essays & Opinions

How does the Philippines — a nation with at least 150 languages — read José Rizal, the national poet and novelist? In English... more »


Jan. 31, 2023

Articles of Note

Women’s magazines like Mirabella, Elle, and Allure were not second-class citizens in the Grand Republic of Letters... more »


New Books

Was John Keats a thinker similar to Karl Marx, but working in a radically different mode? Jacobin makes the case... more »


Essays & Opinions

Some clever-seeming, rich young men have renounced reading books. Their moral vision is severely lacking... more »


Jan. 30, 2023

Articles of Note

Across 60 books, 3,000 judicial decisions, and myriad essays and articles, Richard Posner held no dogma sacred, and no norm beyond question... more »


New Books

What constitutes an act of mourning? For Jonathan Lear, it is an attempt to turn loss into gain by imaginative alchemy... more »


Essays & Opinions

ChatGPT has prompted hand-wringing that "the college essay is dead." The obit is late: The college essay died years ago... more »


Jan. 28, 2023

Articles of Note

The Transylvanian Marxist Gáspár Miklós Tamás watched as leftists became liberals; he didn’t make that transition himself... more »


New Books

Hemingway had four wives, Bellow five, Mailer six. Not all literary marriages are alike; each is unhappy in its own way ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Full of architectural fantasies, the plans for Neom, a new city in Saudi Arabia, reveal a dystopia in the desert... more »


Jan. 27, 2023

Articles of Note

The work of Edward Hopper presents an enigma: Why is a great city like New York both a cause and a cure of loneliness?... more »


New Books

Epicurus was no debauched hedonist. The greatest pleasure, he thought, wasn't fame or fortune, but freedom from anxiety... more »


Essays & Opinions

Vsevolod Garshin, Russia’s most underrated writer, was both an incorrigible idealist and a skeptic paralyzed by doubt ... more »


Jan. 26, 2023

Articles of Note

Glenn Loury on God, incarceration, higher ed, political correctness, race, and retirement after 46 years of teaching... more »


New Books

The modern man is struggling. Do his below-par outcomes deserve attention and policy solutions?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The archive mole toils in obscure used-book stores, poring over sad-looking, dog-eared paperbacks... more »


Jan. 25, 2023

Articles of Note

Victor Navasky — writer, editor, publisher, wry iconocast — is dead at 90... more »


New Books

Chekhov's stories have small titles — “A Trifle,” “A Misfortune,” “A Trivial Incident" — but carry big stakes... more »


Essays & Opinions

Matisse beguiles and bewilders. He renders tree trunks in incandescent primary colors or turns the view out a window into a black void” ... more »


Jan. 24, 2023

Articles of Note

Janet Malcolm's personal papers reflect the care and concern of someone deeply wary of becoming another writer's subject ... more »


New Books

Taking African agency seriously. Exaggerating the influence of colonialism, Olúfemi Táíwò argues, can disrespect Africans... more »


Essays & Opinions

Most kids’ books uplift and delight, or at least instruct. Then there’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day... more »


Jan. 23, 2023

Articles of Note

Jean Valtin’s 1941 autobiography was a sensation. But just how truthful was his account of life in the German underground? ... more »


New Books

Demon of distraction. For early monks, inattentiveness was an original sin of the mind. The war to concentrate was a primordial struggle ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Step aside, Sartre. It is not an exaggeration to say that Karl Jaspers is the forgotten father of existentialism ... more »


Jan. 21, 2023

Articles of Note

When Truman Capote went to jail. In 1970, playing fast and loose with the facts finally caught up with him... more »


New Books

For transhumanists, the replacement of humanity by a better, more intelligent species would be a worthy upgrade... more »


Essays & Opinions

Thomas Kuhn highlighted the differences among scientific communities — and then emphasized the similarities within those differences... more »


Jan. 20, 2023

Articles of Note

Charles Simic: “The truth is, everything I wrote in books — it was the money. I was tempted by the money” ... more »


New Books

Surrealism, expressionism, existentialism, theosophy, Jewish mysticism: Kafka managed to transcend any philosophical movement... more »


Essays & Opinions

Do not fear ChatGPT. It won’t replace human intelligence, but it might provide new starting points for our thinking... more »


Jan. 19, 2023

Articles of Note

Club Freud. At a party for a new literary magazine dedicated to psychoanalysis, analysts and analysands mingle on the dance floor ... more »


New Books

Why did European music thrive in the 19th century? Because it wasn’t yet overinstitutionalized or overcredentialed... more »


Essays & Opinions

The workaholics of Jewish Currents magazine ponder a difficult question: What is the Sabbath for?... more »


Jan. 18, 2023

Articles of Note

Struggling with bipolar disorder and the drama of the book world, a romance writer faked her own death. Now she’s back ... more »


New Books

Kathy Acker’s writing is allergic to any stable narratives about how women, artists, or outsiders might “find their identity”... more »


Essays & Opinions

“To hell with culture,” argued Herbert Read. In a “natural society” there would be no artists, only workers ... more »


Jan. 17, 2023

Articles of Note

Sandro Botticelli was the great painter of hair. Enter the Church, for which hair was a theological superfluity... more »


New Books

Heinrich Päs’s “monism” combines quantum physics, general relativity, hallucinogens, and the Book of Genesis ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Literary criticism has professionalized. Its reward? The pettiness, narcissism, and insecurity of its practitioners... more »


Jan. 16, 2023

Articles of Note

With an obsessive interest in food, Katherine Mansfield constructed her best stories as snacks for modern appetites... more »


New Books

Cormac McCarthy’s latest work ditches his liturgical, ecstatic style for a more demanding and heartless mode of inquiry... more »


Essays & Opinions

Public spitting, defecation, urination, masturbation — shamelessness was part of Diogenes the Cynic’s philosophical strategy ... more »


Jan. 14, 2023

Articles of Note

Graduates from even elite Ph.D. programs in the humanities have virtually no chance of a tenure-track job. What’s to be done?   ... more »


New Books

Mozart and Beethoven were freelance musicians. Two centuries later, they would have disappeared into a university and never heard from again ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Anyone who cares about the origins of ideas must take an interest in mathematics. Yet on this front, the willful ignorance of intellectuals passes for cultivation ... more »


Jan. 13, 2023

Articles of Note

For Duchamp, "Nude Descending” and the uproar it caused were transformative. He dropped painting and chose to be a provocateur... more »


New Books

Janet Malcolm, masterly interviewer and cagey interviewee, was uniquely aware of the dangers of a tape recorder... more »


Essays & Opinions

Enter the conductrice. Male conductors claim physical, forceful authority over a symphony. Does having women in the role change that?... more »


Jan. 12, 2023

Articles of Note

The Islamic painting at the heart of the controversy that led to an adjunct professor losing her job: Is it truly Islamophobic?... more »


New Books

“I’m not here to demonize the petroleum industry.” So begins a fundamentally misguided work of environmental history ... more »


Essays & Opinions

English prose used to be ornate and elegant. Now it is simple and minimal, denuded of nuance, elegance, intricacy, and originality... more »


Jan. 11, 2023

Articles of Note

A stampede to Substack? The platform provides the best answers to some of journalism’s perennial problems ... more »


New Books

Kafka the diarist reveals a tormented man with a robust appetite for living... more »


Essays & Opinions

How to win a poetry prize: Get a B.A. from Harvard, an M.F.A. from Iowa, and befriend Carl Phillips and Robert Pinsky... more »


Jan. 10, 2023

Articles of Note

What it’s like to win a Nobel Prize. The typical entreaties for photos and autographs arrive, along with much stranger requests as well... more »


New Books

A new biography skewers Norman Mailer as unreadable and hilariously terrible, but it ignores his best work... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Our language is entangled with our living," says Joseph M. Keegin. "Learning how to read — in the fullest sense of what literacy entails — means learning how to live"... more »


Jan. 7, 2023

Articles of Note

Environmental activists are targeting works of art in protests. Are they justified? Peter Singer makes the case... more »


New Books

Historians rightfully challenge misconceptions of America. But the nation’s myths can play a positive role, too... more »


Essays & Opinions

Reading great literature sent a shiver between Nabokov’s shoulder blades. You won’t get that thrill out of reading from a sense of obligation... more »


Jan. 6, 2023

Articles of Note

Is the pace of scientific discovery slowing down? Data suggests that we live in an age of incrementalism... more »


New Books

The exclamation mark has been around for centuries. But we have not always known how to use it... more »


Essays & Opinions

Universities are now governed by “learning outcomes” and box-ticking bureaucracies. What education is for can’t be so neatly defined... more »


Jan. 5, 2023

Articles of Note

Richard Bernstein considered Arendt, Rorty, and Habermas not just philosophical interlocutors. They were also his friends... more »


New Books

Lost languages. Linear Elamite was finally decrypted last summer. But being able to read a script is not the same as understanding the language itself... more »


Essays & Opinions

Achilles tore at his hair; Edvard Munch painted blank faces. The aesthetics of pain have varied enormously ... more »


Jan. 4, 2023

Articles of Note

Last dance of the “academostars.” The annual meeting of the English Institute reveals a hollowed out, more egalitarian, literary studies ... more »


New Books

How did Agatha Christie take the detective story to a new level? By injecting it with playfulness and intrigue ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Upon graduation from the École Normale Supérieure, Simone Weil was poised to join the intellectual elite. Then she took a job as a factory worker ... more »


Jan. 3, 2023

Articles of Note

Are we so saturated in stories that we've become their credulous, undiscerning consumers?... more »


New Books

Joseph Roth, a writer in perpetual motion, was most at home in a Viennese cafe. And most at ease when drunk ... more »


Essays & Opinions

For Christopher Lasch, progressive optimism was merely a form of wishful thinking. But he wasn't without hope... more »


Jan. 2, 2023

Articles of Note

Yes, "fail better," as Beckett said. But perfectionism can doom such a pursuit to, well, failure... more »


New Books

The artist's studio, that "noisome cockpit of lust, crime, and virtuosity," has rarely been a place of serene creativity... more »


Essays & Opinions

Annie Ernaux's work suggests that the distinction between fiction and nonfiction matters less than how literature interprets memory ... more »


Dec. 31, 2022

Articles of Note

We know that the Americas were the last continents that humans entered, but we still don’t know exactly how this happened... more »


New Books

The search for paradise, where the domestic and the divine appear to meet, has a long history here on earth ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Lionel Trilling's prose could be maddeningly vague, underscoring the difficulty of discerning his politics ... more »


Dec. 30, 2022

Articles of Note

In Tudor England, the Christmas feast was large, but those on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Twelfth Night were more extravagant still... more »


Essays & Opinions

Mathematical models are ubiquitous and widely persuasive. Do we lean on them too heavily?... more »


Dec. 29, 2022

Articles of Note

Bob Gottlieb, 91, the last of the publishing giants, has a lament: “Publishing has grown more and more corporate.”... more »