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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Nov. 23, 2020

Articles of Note

Man of many dreams. In the early 1930s, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli began recording his dreams for Carl Jung. Somehow he remembered 1,300 of them  ... more »


New Books

The Didion gaze. What makes her work fascinating is also what makes it rare: a woman looking at men and not looking away  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Freud’s philosophy of grief. How the loss of a daughter shaped a father’s understanding of death ... more »


Nov. 21, 2020

Articles of Note

Rose Dugdale was a 33-year-old British heiress with a Ph.D. and a glowing recommendation from Iris Murdoch. How did she end up an art thief?   ... more »


New Books

Why did the West rise? Meritocracy, democracy, trust, innovation, and restraint, argues a new book. But was it really so simple?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Harold Bloom’s last book is lazy, solipsistic, vague, and plain wrong. It suggests that he may have misunderstood literature all along... more »


Nov. 20, 2020

Articles of Note

An “economy of favors.” Poetry prizes suffer from reciprocity: judges give awards to those who have given them awards... more »


New Books

From the “morally hideous” to the terroristically violent, Kate Manne offers a clear taxonomy of misogyny. And yet no vision for the future emerges   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Feynman, Hawking, and Herschel all insist that empirical evidence is the sole truth of science. Do they protest too much?   ... more »


Nov. 19, 2020

Articles of Note

Suffering from syphilis, Manet turned to alternative medicine: ergot of rye, mercury, ice showers, hydroelectric baths. Nothing helped... more »


New Books

What constituted identity in the Renaissance? According to two new books, it was a slippery concept, bounded by neither mind nor body... more »


Essays & Opinions

America’s battle is not between a “liberal” left and a “fascist” right, but rather between the people and a grandiose system of political management   ... more »


Nov. 18, 2020

Articles of Note

The old-world strangeness of her diction, the stirringly beautiful chest voice: What it means to finally take Dolly Parton seriously... more »


New Books

Selecting Adrienne Rich for a poetry prize, Auden praised her “neatly and modestly” finished work. So began her desire to be “messily passionate and grand”   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Literature defines itself against the pedantry of popular advice. Self-help promotes itself as an antidote to intellectual bombast. Are the genres antithetical?   ... more »


Nov. 17, 2020

Articles of Note

Amid extreme deprivation, food and shelter matter, of course. But so do laughter, stories, play, dance, music... more »


New Books

Even when the history of philosophy doesn't make sense philosophically, it does makes sense as a story   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“The world is a wild and unlikely place: the giraffe, stranger than the griffin, taller than a tall house, does us the incomparable gift of being proof of it”   ... more »


Nov. 16, 2020

Articles of Note

Once a patrician malady, gout is now more widespread. Fortunately, treatments have advanced beyond poultices of fermented ox dung ... more »


New Books

War has advanced in lockstep with civilization, argues Margaret MacMillan. It is "the most organized of all human activities” ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A profusion of new voices, all clamoring for readership, most unable to pay the bills: the 18th-century writing life... more »


Nov. 14, 2020

Articles of Note

Literature is distinct from politics. And yet, from Walt Whitman to Curtis Sittenfeld, American writers can’t look away... more »


New Books

A rage to possess: Degas could not say no to calico headdresses, Normandy handkerchiefs, Gavarni prints, and Oriental carpets   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Though his ideas have faded, the charismatic philosopher Franz Brentano achieved immortality by other means — his students   ... more »


Nov. 13, 2020

Articles of Note

America is on the brink of civilization collapse, argues Peter Turchin. The cause: an overproduction of elites... more »


New Books

What's the best book of 2020? The New Statesman rounds up picks from Hilary Mantel, Steven Pinker, Pankaj Mishra, and other readers ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Before there was cancel culture, Wagner was canceled. He hated Jews and was embraced by the Nazis. Yet his work has persisted  ... more »


Nov. 12, 2020

Articles of Note

Classical music offers the last true unmediated listening experience: no microphones, no amplifiers, no speakers ... more »


New Books

In a new book of essays, Zadie Smith offers advice for getting through the pandemic: “Think, reflexively, of whoever suffers”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A new translation casts Beowulf as a modern bro, making a point about toxic masculinity and leaving a trail of clichés ... more »


Nov. 11, 2020

Articles of Note

Book publishing is a business, and a difficult one. One result of our hard times: a well-made book is tougher to find ... more »


New Books

“This is the difficult miracle of Black poetry in America: that we persist, published or not, and loved or unloved. We persist.”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Self-awareness as a literary tic doesn’t arise out of thin air. So why have writers become so annoyingly self-conscious?  ... more »


Nov. 10, 2020

Articles of Note

At The New York Times, liberal institutionalists and woke insurrectionists duke it out. Is the paper of the resistance still the paper of record? ... more »


New Books

When Michael Dirda first heard Wagner, he understood why Victorian mothers shielded their daughters from it. "This wasn’t just a 40-minute duet, it was aural sex"  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

In praise of minor aesthetics. The beautiful and sublime are rare; the cute, zany, interesting, and gimmicky are ubiquitous  ... more »


Nov. 9, 2020

Articles of Note

The study of civilizational collapse was once a preoccupation of marginal scholars. Now it's growing  ... more »


New Books

It's been said that "humans’ greatest invention was the invention of invention itself." What are the origins of our ingenuity?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The election is over, but anti-intellectual resentment remains strong. What does that mean for the academy?  ... more »


Nov. 7, 2020

Articles of Note

With wit and an aversion to self-help, Kate Baer is the Instagram poet for people who don’t like Instagram poets   ... more »


New Books

Sybille Bedford ran in elite literary circles with Peggy Guggenheim and Cyril Connolly. She kept her friends close — and exploited them mercilessly   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ours is an intellectually enfeebled milieu in which the self-interest of privileged white men is passed off as “global thinking”... more »


Nov. 6, 2020

Articles of Note

Writing with a pen used to be a leaky, smudgy, frustrating affair. That all changed on October 29, 1945  ... more »


Articles of Note

After Oxford, the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane headed to the World War I trenches. He found happiness... more »


Essays & Opinions

Don DeLillo and Martin Amis ruled the literary ’80s. Now they poke along, referencing their former genius  ... more »


Nov. 5, 2020

Articles of Note

Hegel criticized the Romantics for placing individualism above institutions, producing rebellion and disharmony. What would he make of us?... more »


New Books

It’s easy to hate Ezra Pound for his racism and fascism. But consider his painful postwar years and another emotion may emerge: pity   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The “first-person industrial complex.” Confessional writing — from Augustine to Jia Tolentino — turns desire into discourse. But why is it so dominant now?... more »


Nov. 4, 2020

Articles of Note

Why was a retrospective of Philip Guston’s paintings put on hold? The powers that be couldn’t distinguish between racist imagery and images depicting racists  ... more »


New Books

The growth of specialization is by no means regrettable. Pathological pedantry is a prerequisite for producing knowledge  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

What happens when we pray? An anthropologist embeds with an evangelical church to distinguish the metaphorical from the miraculous ... more »


Nov. 3, 2020

Articles of Note

After decades of political repression, Kenya is trying to shed its reputation as a literary desert. The global publishing industry isn’t helping  ... more »


New Books

Historians have lost influence to economists and political scientists. Is that because the latter are more willing to court the powerful?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

In praise of politics. It’s messy, unpredictable, and often disappointing. It’s also the starting point for meaningful societal change  ... more »


Nov. 2, 2020

Articles of Note

The film industry is beleaguered, but the experience of watching a movie on a big screen, as part of an audience, will not disappear  ... more »


New Books

Was Ted Hughes a wife-beater? That may depend on your interpretation of Sylvia Plath’s tale of a glass thrown across a dark room  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The “full-naming” crusade — against referring to some composers only by last name (Beethoven) but to others by full name — is just silly ... more »


Oct. 31, 2020

Articles of Note

When humanities professors wade into legal debates, things go south quickly. Consider, for instance, their argument that “originalism is dumb”... more »


New Books

Gogol was strange, but consider his parents: His father was a sort of court jester; his mother thought her son invented the steamboat and the railroad... more »


Essays & Opinions

Amis, Barnes, Rushdie, McEwan — the British baby boomers sink toward senescence with a wave of nostalgic, self-indulgent prose... more »


Oct. 30, 2020

Articles of Note

The slow agonies of respiratory disease, like the swift drama of plague, can inspire great art... more »


New Books

Delve into Nabokov’s letters and lectures, and a familiar, impertinent question will occur: Was he a pervert? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Theory Wars of the '90s never ended; they just migrated from Diacritics to Twitter. There’s no end in sight  ... more »


Oct. 29, 2020

Articles of Note

Self-discipline, civility, and reason: these Stoic practices may allow us to live better. But don't underestimate the value of anger... more »


New Books

Across five volumes totaling 2,500 pages, Joseph Frank did more than any other critic to illuminate the mind of Dostoevsky... more »


Essays & Opinions

Being an editor requires two qualities that rarely coexist in the same person, says Norman Podhoretz: arrogance and selflessness   ... more »


Oct. 28, 2020

Articles of Note

“Journalism is the real Minotaur … It demands every year a fresh supply of young men and women: devours them … and is ready for another batch”   ... more »


New Books

The invention of alphabetical order signaled a shift from a world with intrinsic order to one we must organize   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Why is autofiction so white? Perhaps it’s an inevitable result of a literary landscape dominated by white editors and critics   ... more »


Oct. 27, 2020

Articles of Note

Every writer is unique in some way; D.H. Lawrence was unique in many ways: his prose style, his personality, his opinions. George Scialabba explains... more »


New Books

A new biography of Lucian Freud withholds gossip into “private affairs.” That’s a shame — Freud’s private affairs propelled his art   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Does history really “have its eyes on us,” as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s George Washington says? Where did this idea come from, anyway?   ... more »


Oct. 26, 2020

Articles of Note

Books bound in human skin have a long history, though one less sensational and more ambiguous than the urban legends  ... more »


New Books

Intellectual detours are key to learning, and the ability to take them is a skill to nurture  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Hannah Arendt is the most used and abused philosophical source to interpret American politics. Sam Moyn explains  ... more »


Oct. 24, 2020

Articles of Note

Many colleges are fighting for survival. Is it even reasonable to expect the humanities to survive?  ... more »


New Books

Jew, poet, homosexual, painter, punster, novelist, critic, palm-reader, ether-addict, Kabbalist, Catholic: Who was Max Jacob?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"The mob is drunk on the new power that surveillance provides them, seemingly unaware of the many ways it could come back to bite them next" ... more »


Oct. 23, 2020

Articles of Note

“It’s not a love affair or a marriage; it’s a job," says the biographer Hermione Lee, who is taking on her first living subject... more »


New Books

Dickens is infinitely greater than his critics,” John Carey wrote. But not necessarily wiser... more »


Essays & Opinions

Political poems were “excruciating”; the “so-called arts of the left” were insincere — for George and Mary Oppen, politics and the arts did not mix   ... more »


Oct. 22, 2020

Articles of Note

Academia, a theater of “grinding competition and relentless banality,” is no longer a place to live the contemplative life... more »


New Books

The maddening Martin Amis. He denounces authors’ asides into dreams, sex, and religion… and then commits those very novelistic sins  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ruthlessly self-absorbed, obsessed with power, a sexual predator — Simone de Beauvoir was not a good person. But at least she stood for something  ... more »


Oct. 21, 2020

Articles of Note

What defines the literature of the far right? Pseudo-academic pretensions, worship of the male physique, and a fixation on technological determinism  ... more »


New Books

The voice of The Atlantic is authoritative, high-minded, empirical — and, once you’ve heard it enough, utterly tedious ... more »


Essays & Opinions

What makes Chekhov unique? His perception, his ability to discern the subtlest emotional shades of human experience. Gary Saul Morson explains ... more »


Oct. 20, 2020

New Books

The history of knowledge and its enemies was best summed up by Heinrich Heine: “Wherever they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn human beings” ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"A grabby talky disorderly inferno of the spirit." William Gaddis's J R was almost comically ahead of its time  ... more »