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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
March 6, 2021

Articles of Note

Paul Valéry hobnobbed with princesses, ministers, and scientists. By the 1930s, he was France’s poetic stuffed shirt extraordinaire ... more »


New Books

The White Operation. For decades, Dr. Robert J. White pursued his quest: to transplant a human head. He came close ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The French journal Le Débat is no more. Cause of death? American social theory. How the intellectual tides have turned   ... more »


March 5, 2021

Articles of Note

Originalism’s original sin. The judicial philosophy is best understood not in a legal context, but as an extension of biblical literalism  ... more »


New Books

High society in interwar England: late nights, hangovers, petty insecurities, ghastly conversation, and fascist sympathies  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Camus, metereologist. At the Algiers Geophysics Institute, he grew increasingly disenchanted: “Observation here represents an arbitrary slice of reality”  ... more »


March 4, 2021

Articles of Note

Two of the largest U.S. publishers want to merge. How many imprints will fold? How many jobs will be lost? ... more »


New Books

Soviet shame culture. The party constantly invented new mistakes. One could never be free from the risk of humiliation — or worse ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Harold Bloom’s final books reveal that he was never the cosmopolitan we took him to be. Rather, his work is a beautiful, narrow province  ... more »


March 3, 2021

Articles of Note

Jordan Petersen is rich, famous, and unhappy. His anxiety landed him in a Russian hospital. Now he's back from breakdown  ... more »


New Books

How do we pin down an artist who has meant so many things to so many people? The revolutionary contradictions of Richard Wagner... more »


Essays & Opinions

We disagree not just over values and facts, but also over our very standards for determining what the facts are... more »


March 2, 2021

Articles of Note

Sherry Turkle, MIT’s “one-woman emergency empathy squad,” is a critic of technology amid its evangelists...more... more »


New Books

What can we learn from Philip Roth, master careerist? Lawyer up early, listen to critics while scorning them publicly, sell out whenever possible  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Americans’ dogmatism about democracy strengthens their attachment to it," says Mark Lilla, "but it weakens their understanding of it"  ... more »


March 1, 2021

Articles of Note

The tragic legacy of “comfort women” has divided South Korea and Japan for decades. Enter the dubious claims of a Harvard law professor  ... more »


New Books

What Freud got right. According to a new book, his ideas weren’t just ahead of his time — they are ahead of ours  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A social movement has successfully pushed the idea that people get to choose their own pronoun. How will things look a decade from now? ... more »


Feb. 27, 2021

Articles of Note

Parul Sehgal read 125 years of writing in The New York Times Book Review. She found mostly a dearth of style and a failure of criticism... more »


New Books

At a white-tie ball in 1949, a tipsy Princess Margaret belted out a tune and was greeted by "thunderous booing." It was Francis Bacon... more »


Essays & Opinions

Wealthy colleges talk a lot about equity. But a chasm exists between symbolic gestures and real social progress  ... more »


Feb. 26, 2021

Articles of Note

The book blurb requires too much work and induces too much guilt. As Viet Thanh Nguyen says, “Kill it. Bury it. Dance on its grave.”... more »


New Books

René Girard’s one-liners: Nietzsche was “so wrong that in some ways he’s right”; Sartre was “too even-keeled to become a true genius”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Psychoanalysis and the novel. Authors and analysts are repositories of insight about our motives and behaviors   ... more »


Feb. 25, 2021

Articles of Note

What happens when race, class, and power collide at an elite liberal-arts college? No one emerges unscathed  ... more »


New Books

More people than ever are sending photos of themselves naked. The pleasures and perils of the nude selfie... more »


Essays & Opinions

Dear Abby, Dear Prudence, Ask Polly - we've reached Peak Advice. But are readers getting anything from all the edification?  ... more »


Feb. 24, 2021

Articles of Note

No human invention has destroyed the civilization that invented it. We haven't been careful or wise — just lucky  ... more »


New Books

Borges, Le Guin, Daniel Keyes — the best philosophical fiction prickles your conscience and knocks your moral sense askew  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“The right advice to an ‘Unhappily Married Woman’ is not to tell her to imagine having sex with a different man, but as a different woman”  ... more »


Feb. 23, 2021

Articles of Note

Two bookshelves, all but identical in appearance and construction, exemplify two radically different ideas about politics and design... more »


New Books

Pankaj Mishra styles himself an outsider against an irredeemable establishment. But increasingly he finds himself in the mainstream... more »


Essays & Opinions

Andy Owen went to war certain that he was advancing the cause of progress. He found a necessary rebuke in the work of John Gray... more »


Feb. 22, 2021

Articles of Note

Unearthing Caligula's pleasure garden. Was he assassinated because he was a monster, or was he made into a monster because he was assassinated? ... more »


New Books

When the moment calls for buffoonery and slapstick, ribald invective, and comedy that turns on bodily functions, enter Aristophanes... more »


Essays & Opinions

In our time of plague, a cast of literary oracles has emerged: Camus, Defoe, Saramago. But in feeling trapped, Kafka is paramount... more »


Feb. 20, 2021

Articles of Note

How to write, according to Martin Amis: No fancy syntax; use line breaks liberally; be original; see things with a poet’s eye... more »


New Books

A Romantic-era notion holds that science kills wonder. The work of Alan Lightman only multiplies it... more »


Essays & Opinions

In literary studies, melodrama reigns as paranoia is pitted against repair, violence against nurture, suspicion against trust   ... more »


Feb. 19, 2021

Articles of Note

Psychosis and dissociation were key mechanisms for Surrealist artists. Down with Western logic! they cried. Long live paranoia!... more »


New Books

Alan Greenspan wished he’d never spoken of “irrational exuberance”; Thomas Kuhn rued introducing “paradigm shift” — coiner’s remorse is real ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Most anti-Semites hate Jews for what they imagine Jews to be. T.S. Eliot, by contrast, hated Jews for what they really are ... more »


Feb. 18, 2021

Articles of Note

What is the cultural sway of magazines when there are 20-year-old TikTok influencers with many more subscribers than Time?  ... more »


New Books

A mammoth new biography of Philip Roth is imminent. Who better to review it than, well, Philip Roth?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"At 43 I constantly feel out of place with you. I have all the wrong thoughts and desires." A writer breaks up with his writing career... more »


Feb. 17, 2021

Articles of Note

In Victorian times, one sat erect in polite society. Enter the scandalous American rocking chair — a “lazy and ungraceful indulgence”... more »


New Books

The legacy of British imperialism is everywhere: Even the word “loot” is appropriated — from the Hindi “lut,” the spoils of war... more »


Essays & Opinions

Can you be traumatized by a secondhand experience? For historians of humankind’s darkest chapters, the answer appears to be “yes”... more »


Feb. 16, 2021

Articles of Note

Classics is beholden to a traditional, triumphalist, “Western civ” model. If the field doesn’t change, it doesn’t deserve to survive  ... more »


New Books

When it comes to Patricia Highsmith, the question of mental illness, of course, arises. Her personality was interwoven with those of her characters  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Loving literature can be an entrée to the academic world. Such passion can also imprison you in academe’s broken system  ... more »


Feb. 15, 2021

Articles of Note

Computers can’t understand a haiku or conjure a fairytale. They can't grasp literature at all. And they never will. Here's proof   ... more »


New Books

Joan Didion's potency and influence stems for her ability to repurpose an ingrained sense of futility into a tool of critical analysis... more »


Essays & Opinions

Every generation of artists has its problems with museums. Museums were once too corporate. Now they are “carceral and colonial, and thus ableist”   ... more »


Feb. 13, 2021

Articles of Note

Seth Abramson's books promise "proof" of Trumpian misdeeds. In reality, they are incoherent summaries of other people's reporting  ... more »


New Books

To separate science from pseudoscience, it helps to consider the rationales of UFOlogists, Yeti enthusiasts, and yes, anti-vaxxers  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Forget lords and ladies - the true history of the Middle Ages is found in legal accounts of peasants' crimes, conflicts, and inheritances  ... more »


Feb. 12, 2021

Articles of Note

There is “a new kind of marginalized literature: literature that does not serve the didactic purposes of the postcolonial survey course”  ... more »


New Books

After residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell, along with a Guggenheim and a MacArthur, Bette Howland never wrote another book  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Avoid oversimplification, question metaphors, stop talking in slogans — so urges a little book from the 1930s, a user’s manual for the mind... more »


Feb. 11, 2021

Articles of Note

Reading Heidegger in Beijing. He's a rock star in academic circles there. But kindly ignore the corruptive impact of a bad regime on a great thinker  ... more »


New Books

Golden age of the cigarette. The war over smoking is too easily cast as one of heroes and villains - in truth things were much messier  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Criticism is often a cycle of destruction, a matter of winners and losers. Tear down a peer's work to elevate your own  ... more »


Feb. 10, 2021

Articles of Note

Do "woke" American ideas on race, gender, and post-colonialism really pose an existential threat to France?... more »


New Books

Acid humor, a flair for pith, a feel for the uncanny — Joan Didion’s talents have been celebrated for decades. Let’s not stop now... more »


Essays & Opinions

In the 1950s, writers began to formulate a critique of technology. Since then we've rushed into an uncritical embrace. What now?... more »


Feb. 9, 2021

Articles of Note

When Charles Darwin met Harriet Martineau, she enjoyed a level of influence he could not imagine. And she challenged his dim view of women   ... more »


New Books

"Yeats saw so deeply into the contours of his age that the shape of the future became somewhat discernible"   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A biography paints Tom Stoppard as unfailingly kind. The playwright’s reaction? He is “not as nice as people think”   ... more »


Feb. 8, 2021

Articles of Note

Cassandra of the internet age: As far back as the mid-'80s, Michael Goldhaber was worried about the attention economy. ... more »


New Books

Was the painter Francis Bacon a truth-teller about humanity's animal nature, or a mere mimic, best at rendering feet, doorknobs, and toiletware?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

On pop futurism. The genre's method? Sketch out possible future, highlight emergent trend, and promise way for reader to benefit  ... more »


Feb. 6, 2021

Articles of Note

Juliet did not say "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore [is he] Romeo?" So why do so many people deface quotes with brackets? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The ur-existentialist. Kierkegaard was torn by his desires for recognition and for walking the path of a self-denying Christian  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The provincialism of American literary culture: We want books that "speak to the moment," espousing a political urgency. That's small-minded  ... more »


Feb. 5, 2021

Articles of Note

How Mary-Kay Wilmers refashioned the London Review of Books in her image: literary and eccentric... more »


New Books

Both Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath were caught in the web of literary fame. But he lived to 74, she died at 30. The difference is instructive  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A fact about the academic humanities? "Bomb-throwing radicals turn into humdrum humanists when they make the case for their departments"... more »


Feb. 4, 2021

Articles of Note

The book pirates of 18th-century France devised a strategy: Republish works by Voltaire. It was “an enterprise of solid gold”... more »


New Books

As a 23-year-old social-media influencer tops the best-seller list in France, the old guard fights back: “147 pages of emptiness, 19.50 lost euros” ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Transgression was the founding gesture of the avant-garde. Now the avant-garde can seem a little "rapey." What changed? ... more »


Feb. 3, 2021

Articles of Note

Dan-el Padilla Peralta is one of the most prominent classicists of his generation. He's not sure the field should exist ... more »


New Books

In her writings, Mary Wollstonecraft flouted social norms. In life, she often defied her own pronouncements ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Philosophers have sought for centuries to understand beauty. Now scientists are giving it a try ... more »


Feb. 2, 2021

Articles of Note

The law professors Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule call for rule by social-scientific elites. That would be a disaster... more »


New Books

Did E.E. Cummings’s relationship with a French prostitute really have a serious effect on his work?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Helen Frankenthaler was many things, but perhaps not “a Shakespeare of the Eisenhower era,” as a fulsome biography asserts... more »


Feb. 1, 2021

Articles of Note

Silvia Foti's grandfather is a national hero in Lithuania. He also worked with the Nazis to kill Jews. His story has echoes across Eastern Europe ... more »


New Books

We inhabit a dystopian reality, says John Gray, which may account for the dearth of dystopian fiction... more »