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Sept. 20, 2018

Articles of Note

Monologues last for hundreds of pages; sentences repeat with subtle, endless differences; the plot is indescribable. Behold: the world’s least readable book... more »


New Books

Overconfident, often drunk, a foe to feminism, Norman Mailer is an odd fit for our time. As his work comes back into print, what does it mean for our culture?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The death of the celebrity profile. It’s been supplanted by Instagram and the first-person essays of the famous. The loss to public culture is real... more »


Sept. 19, 2018

Articles of Note

Tolstoy died an eccentric, self-denying, hypocritical, despised, beloved, myopic visionary. Ever since, people have tried to follow his example... more »


New Books

A publishing romance. James Laughlin was 6-foot-6, a handsome champion skier. Tennessee Williams was hunched over and wore dirty gray pants. The rest was history... more »


Essays & Opinions

Remembering the Village Voice. Drugs were delivered to the office, writers stabbed one another in the back, headlocks were occasionally employed... more »


Sept. 18, 2018

Articles of Note

What if you could start a canon from scratch? New York magazine thought it'd be fun to try. Here's what a 21st-century canon might look like... more »


New Books

Nietzsche aimed to terrify rather than instruct. If his philosophy can be used as therapy, it’s through the ability to deliver an electric jolt to our souls... more »


Essays & Opinions

An accursed genre of personal essay has now emerged: “My Year of Being Held Responsible for My Own Behavior”... more »


Sept. 17, 2018

Articles of Note

David Streitfeld looks back on David Foster Wallace, who sent chain letters and considered becoming “an advice columnist for the highly distraught”... more »


New Books

Across nearly 50 books, Terry Eagleton has proven the adage that being usefully wrong is often better than being trivially right... more »


Essays & Opinions

Maeve Brennan had lost it. She was sleeping next to a bathroom at The New Yorker and was giving away her money. All William Shawn would say was, “She’s a beautiful writer”... more »


Sept. 15, 2018

Articles of Note

The five radical types: democrats, Manicheans, identitarians, propagandists, and technocrats. We need more of the first and the last. Cass Sunstein explains... more »


New Books

John Steinbeck was a bad husband. How bad? On his wedding night, he spent more than an hour on the phone with his mistress... more »


Essays & Opinions

When we are young, we are taught that art comes from lofty places — the pursuit of truth, beauty, sublimity. Nonsense. It comes from antipathy, insecurity, jealousy... more »


Sept. 14, 2018

Articles of Note

In 1791, a depressed Austrian woman wrote to Kant seeking advice. She later killed herself. Oh, the folly of asking philosophers for practical advice... more »


New Books

The aggression of Anthony Burgess. He skewered John le Carré, Stephen Hawking, and Umberto Eco. He even skewered himself... more »


Essays & Opinions

Literary biography is a strange addiction. Reading a life is like reading a poem — full of ambiguity. This is rarely truer than in the case of Pablo Neruda... more »


Sept. 13, 2018

Articles of Note

What happens when two fiercely clever controversialists, skilled in the art of mandarin invective, clash on national TV?... more »


New Books

Pretentious historicizing and sophistry on nearly every page. When Knausgaard writes about himself, it’s transcendent; when he writes about Hitler, it’s a train wreck... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Please be kind to Muriel.” A love affair gone wrong, intimate letters leaked — blackmail and betrayal hovered over both Muriel Spark’s fiction and her life... more »


Sept. 12, 2018

Articles of Note

Meet the Data Thugs, the foot soldiers behind psychology’s replication crisis. Are they saving science — or destroying it?... more »


New Books

Eleven-year-old Sally Horner was kidnapped in June 1948 and spent two years as the captive of an older man. Was this Nabokov's inspiration?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The number of scientists is growing at a faster rate than the human population. Why haven't more scientists produced more discoveries?... more »


Sept. 11, 2018

Articles of Note

It’s easy to admire the maxim “Know thyself” — but what about other Delphic wisdom, such as “Beget from noble routes” and “Admire oracles”?... more »


New Books

A biographer’s plight: Philip Larkin was observant, romantic, and tender. He was also selfish, vulgar, and intolerant... more »


Essays & Opinions

The aphorism is rhetorical algebra, an elevated and ambitious format. Too bad the genre’s current state is one of disgrace... more »


Sept. 10, 2018

Articles of Note

The Village Voice is dead — sort of. Its cultural and political assumptions, once marginal, are now baked into the mainstream... more »


New Books

Every age offers its own cures for the previous generation’s supposedly poor parenting. The corrective du jour: Keep kids safe, but not too safe... more »


Essays & Opinions

1968 and the fate of radical protest. The counterculture evaporated into New Age bromides and identity politics. But the core of resistance never entirely disappeared... more »


Sept. 8, 2018

Articles of Note

How far can common sense go toward answering philosophy’s most difficult questions? For J.L. Austin, the answer was quite far indeed... more »


New Books

After the fall. What happened after jazz lost its cultural dominance, after it was sealed behind glass and rendered safe? It became more relevant... more »


Essays & Opinions

Higher education has historically been a bulwark against authoritarianism — or its pawn. What will it be this time?... more »


Sept. 7, 2018

Articles of Note

Joyce Maynard has published nine novels and two memoirs. Yet you probably know her as the “opportunistic onetime nymphet” who slept with a great writer... more »


New Books

Ancient Rome and Silicon Valley. In the former, a decline in power corresponded to a decline in ethics. In the latter, moral decline is accompanied by rising assets... more »


Essays & Opinions

Piero Manzoni’s 1961 work, “Artist’s Shit,” featured 90 small, sealed tins. After they exploded in market value, poor autoclaving produced some literal explosions... more »


Sept. 6, 2018

Articles of Note

A philosophical riddle: Why is listening to music pleasurable? Perhaps because of its ambiguity, subjectivity, or opacity. Or because it challenges us... more »


New Books

Hobbes, Hume, and Kant alike sympathetic to the thought that “there must be something more,” and sensitive to the limits of speculating about God... more »


Essays & Opinions

Self-help and the apostles of positivity. Why do we demand the most conspicuous happiness from people with the greatest reason to be unhappy?... more »


Sept. 5, 2018

Articles of Note

In the late 19th century, female artists from around the world began making their way to Paris. They would emerge at the forefront of Impressionism... more »


New Books

The poet Laura Riding entered Robert Graves’s life in 1926. She claimed to be a goddess capable of stopping time; her true talent was for alienation... more »


Essays & Opinions

Modernism and the middle class once ruled the art world. No longer. The firewall between art and money has been abandoned... more »


Sept. 4, 2018

Articles of Note

What's the meaning of freedom? Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, and Robert Nozick disagreed on much. But they all emphasized universal values over group identity... more »


New Books

A monument to candor. After 3,600 pages, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle comes to an end. “This novel has hurt everyone around me,” he writes... more »


Essays & Opinions

Immortality can sound appealing, but what would it really entail? Tedium and banality — like being trapped in a never-ending cocktail party ... more »


Sept. 3, 2018

Articles of Note

Tolkien’s faith. He was explicit about the theological foundation of his work. But was Christianity at the heart of his greatest achievements?... more »


New Books

Myers-Briggs is an "instrument" to discern personality types. It's also a mass-produced tool of social control. And a tool of liberation... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Art, it seems to me, should simplify.” So explained Willa Cather, who, through uncompromising effort, wrote the Great American Novel... more »


Sept. 1, 2018

Articles of Note

The End of History or The Clash of Civilizations? Which theory better captured the post-Cold War zeitgeist and predicted what would follow?... more »


New Books

The old man and the muse. Adriana Ivancich, writer of rambling and incoherent letters, was banal beyond reason. Still, she sparked Hemingway’s creativity... more »


Essays & Opinions

When genuine criticism is undertaken at the risk of ostracism, marginalization, retribution — this is where abuses like Avital Ronell’s grow like moss, or mold... more »


Aug. 31, 2018

Articles of Note

The theft of rare books from libraries has long been so easy that it makes even the least talented thief think he's a criminal mastermind... more »


New Books

Chekhov, the ultimate commitment-phobe, married at 41. When his wife became pregnant, it seemed certain he wasn’t the father. Who was?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Nietzsche wars have raged for more than a century. When a sunny, happier, and more literary Nietzsche threatened to take hold, the bad Nietzsche was never far behind... more »


Aug. 30, 2018

Articles of Note

The strange story of Amo the African. Given as a child to a German duke, he became a philosopher, then, suddenly, went back to Africa. Why?... more »


New Books

Tourists came for the scenery, the theater, the beer and sausages, the attractive blonds. Until the late 1930s, Germany was seen as the ideal place to vacation ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Romanticism vs. romance novels. For Wordsworth, the genre was “sickly and stupid”; for Coleridge, it merited reading only in indolence... more »


Aug. 29, 2018

Articles of Note

Francis Fukuyama's dalliance with deconstruction. He studied with de Man, Derrida, and Barthes. Any memories? "I decided it was total bullshit"... more »


New Books

Robert Graves regarded tranquility as the enemy of poetry. His life was chaotic, but purposely so. "The poet, like the kettle, must boil to produce... more »


Essays & Opinions

Writing and reading online is an exercise in willful misunderstanding, impatience, and hostility. The result? The op-edization of everything... more »


Aug. 28, 2018

Articles of Note

Writers and their cats. A young Doris Lessing was party to a cat massacre; for Vivian Gornick, a more typical experience: being ignored... more »


New Books

We all worry about privacy. But we also willingly give it up. What does it mean to worry so much about something we seem to want so little of?... more »


Essays & Opinions

As politics has become an exercise in drawing a bright line between those on the right and those in the wrong, Meghan Daum falls back in love with an old flame: nuance... more »


Aug. 27, 2018

Articles of Note

John Coltrane said he wanted to play as though jumping into the middle of a sentence. After him, there is nothing left to say on the saxophone... more »


New Books

Claire Tomalin is known as a literary editor and biographer — Hardy, Austen, Dickens. Now she's telling her own story... more »


Essays & Opinions

For some, socialism conjures the Soviet Union and the gulag; for others, Scandinavia and guaranteed income. What do we mean, in 2018, when we talk about socialism?... more »


Aug. 25, 2018

Articles of Note

For Roger Scruton, music is rooted in subjective experience. The act of listening endows mere vibrations with meaning and purpose... more »


New Books

Architectural criticism has a rich tradition of antimodern alarm. James Stevens Curl is eager to join it. He wrote the critique of all critiques, or at least he tried... more »


Essays & Opinions

For a rare group — Witold Gombrowicz, Anaïs Nin, perhaps Franz Kafka, especially John Cheever private diaries comprise their finest writing... more »


Aug. 24, 2018

Articles of Note

It's hard to remember when the humanities weren't in crisis. But this time is different. Students are fleeing, especially at elite colleges... more »


New Books

The famously liberal philosopher John Rawls has been recast as a sharp critic of capitalism. If Rawls really was a socialist, why was he so reticent about it?... more »


Essays & Opinions

“A writer,” said V.S. Naipaul, “is in the end not his books, but his myth.” Now that he has died, what is the myth of Naipaul?... more »


Aug. 23, 2018

Articles of Note

The past is not a foolproof guide to the future. It is, however, the only guide we have. So why are historians reluctant to comment on contemporary affairs?... more »


New Books

Is your dream version of yourself a drily witty, slightly abrasive woman in a black turtleneck reading Sontag, Didion, and Arendt? This is the book for you... more »


Essays & Opinions

The best spy and detective fiction, we're told, transcends its genre. That’s a backhanded compliment, of course, but what does it even mean?... more »


Aug. 22, 2018

Articles of Note

When Caitlin Rosenthal began studying slave-plantation management, she didn't expect to find parallels with modern business practices... more »


New Books

Diversity of thought is the lifeblood of philosophy. Nothing is more exciting than a fresh idea. Yet academic philosophy in America shuns diversity... more »


Essays & Opinions

Derided as boring, indecisive, and weak, gray is overlooked and undersung. In fact, it’s full of possibility, the color that makes all the others speak... more »


Aug. 21, 2018

Articles of Note

“The thing I’m most proud of is my finish — the finish on the painting," says Alex Katz, now in his 90s. "It took me years to get to this finish.”... more »


New Books

The apocalyptic despair of the crisis-of-democracy crowd is bracing. Yes, this might be the beginning of the end. Or maybe it's the prelude to a new kind of politics... more »


Essays & Opinions

Scholars may not agree on how to measure social class, or even if it exists. But that’s no reason to stop talking about it. Kwame Anthony Appiah explains... more »


Aug. 20, 2018

Articles of Note

“In poetry, words rhyme; in puns, ideas rhyme,” says James Geary. “This is the ultimate test of wittiness, keeping your balance even when you’re of two minds.” So why do puns have a bad reputation?... more »


New Books

Maryanne Wolf was worried. She wasn't reading as she used to. She conducted an experiment on herself, which confirmed that she'd lost "cognitive patience." Have you?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Hemingway described Little Women as full of “sweetness and light.” Other critics characterize the book as treacly. True enough, in some ways. But it's also an angry book... more »


Aug. 18, 2018

Articles of Note

Sixty-six million years ago, three-quarters of the earth’s species went extinct. Why? Enter one of the longest and most rancorous controversies in science... more »


New Books

Anne Hathaway’s rough ride. She's been exploited and slandered in the dim hope that her shadowy life will tell us something essential about her husband, Shakespeare. It doesn't... more »


Essays & Opinions

Given our collective mania for attention, and the boundless opportunities we now have to seek it, we might ask: What did people believe they lost when they lost their privacy?... more »


Aug. 17, 2018

Articles of Note

More than 10 million antiquities have disappeared from China, some of them ending up in museums around the world. Why are so many being stolen?... more »


New Books

Weegee specialized in photographing crime scenes. Murder was his business, he said. Art critics loved his style. Then he slipped into obscurity... more »


Essays & Opinions

For all his renown, Hume remains a philosopher’s philosopher. Why? He's not a tragic or romantic figure, and did not offer an easily distilled message... more »