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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Jan. 21, 2022

Articles of Note

Terry Teachout's criticism was marked by a philosophical, non-political conservatism. That might be rare, but is it extinct? ... more »


New Books

H.G. Wells was short and stocky, sporting a comb-over. He looked like a seedy groper. He was irresistible ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Once, “vibe,” “mood,” and “energy” were watchwords of the counterculture. Now everyone uses them — and they have lost their force   ... more »


Jan. 20, 2022

Articles of Note

Emotions are amorphous. Attempts to catalog them, in order to master them, are doomed to fail ... more »


New Books

The unbearable mawkishness of Michael Ignatieff. He is never so platitudinous as he is regarding consolation ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A literary injustice: The ambitious, serious Russell Hoban is best remembered for his children’s books about Frances the Badger  ... more »


Jan. 19, 2022

Articles of Note

Art crimes are as old as art itself. But the FBI's Art Crime Team is fairly new — and busier than ever... more »


New Books

Socrates scoffed at grief. The Stoics regarded it as a messy distraction. Why has this central experience been overlooked by philosophers? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Art’s not a commodity,” held Donald Judd, a mainstay of the art town Marfa, Tex. Now the place confronts the NFT craze... more »


Jan. 18, 2022

Articles of Note

Molière and the art of hypocrisy. He understood that a certain kind of dissembling is a necessary vice ... more »


New Books

Black power and Black arts were “so twinned and joined at the hip that it is impossible, really, to tell where one begins and the other ends”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Has the Thomas Mann revival trivialized him, reducing the Great Ambiguator to an op-ed columnist? Alex Ross makes the case ... more »


Jan. 17, 2022

Articles of Note

In his early 70s, Bernard-Henri Lévy has survived several cycles of literary fame. Who is he now? ... more »


New Books

Ali Baba, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White: These fairy tales endure because they respond to a deep human need ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The hatchet job is back, made for internet virality. These book reviews have even given rise to a new literary mode ... more »


Jan. 15, 2022

Articles of Note

A titanic forfeiture of intellectual capital? Into the crossword craze of the 1920s came an even more time-consuming task: the cryptic crossword... more »


New Books

Pablo Picasso, emotional monster. His genius was rivaled by his talent for manipulation — as is evident in his art ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Thou shalt not…” “To be or not to be?” “I would prefer not to.” Words of negation like “not” have a mysterious power   ... more »


Jan. 14, 2022

Articles of Note

Humans are creatures of habit. What does that mean in a world increasingly dominated by automation? ... more »


New Books

“Hobbes’s story is still our story.” For David Runciman, the state — not democracy — is central to modern political experience ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Does art serve social justice? Does social justice serve art? Such questions promote a narrow view of what art can do... more »


Jan. 13, 2022

Articles of Note

A catalyst increases the rate of a chemical reaction. E.O. Wilson played that role in the biological science... more »


New Books

An emphasis on “relevance” in art is troubling Jed Perl. Where does the threat come from? He won’t say ... more »


Essays & Opinions

David Hume and a footnote. In one sentence, he forever tarnished his reputation. What lesson do we take?... more »


Jan. 12, 2022

Articles of Note

Spanish intellectual culture treasures Miguel de Unamuno’s 1936 denunciation of fascism. But did it really happen? ... more »


New Books

In the critic Harold Rosenberg’s hard-drinking milieu, cultural and political sparring sometimes erupted into fistfights ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Martha Nussbaum: “With humor, with science, with kindness, let us resist the ignoble and damaging project of disgust”  ... more »


Jan. 11, 2022

Articles of Note

Surrealism is no longer the art world’s reigning movement. But it’s uniquely suited to making us slow down and look... more »


New Books

Jane Austen had six novels published in six years. But her writing life was spread across three decades... more »


Essays & Opinions

In praise of tackiness: Cheesecake Factory, Guy Fieri, the band Creed — where would we be without such low aesthetics?... more »


Jan. 10, 2022

Articles of Note

Science used to advance theory by theory. Now breakthroughs often emerge without explanation. Is this progress? ... more »


New Books

Is Slaughterhouse-Five evidence of Kurt Vonnegut’s undiagnosed PTSD? Wrong question ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Louis Menand and Roosevelt Montás clash over the purpose of studying literature. Their disagreement is both interesting and important ... more »


Jan. 8, 2022

Articles of Note

The women of the Napoleonic wars, unable to serve in battle, advanced their politics via other means... more »


New Books

“As inventive and inspiring as Emerson and Thoreau often were, their zeal for ‘individual freedom’ has curdled into a socially destructive force” ... more »


Essays & Opinions

W.E.B. Du Bois’s masterly “Black Reconstruction” got a vitriolic reception in 1935. The vitriol lingers on... more »


Jan. 7, 2022

Articles of Note

For a long time, a primary goal of the artist was to violate taboos. Then the culture simply ran out of ways to shock... more »


New Books

Is Gauguin redeemable? Probably not. Would he want to be redeemed? Almost certainly not ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Secularism has given rise to substitute religions — Romanticism, communism, social crusades. Each has failed in turn ... more »


Jan. 6, 2022

Articles of Note

What was the best scholarly book of 2021? Paul Bloom, Corey Robin, Priya Satia, and other readers make their picks... more »


New Books

Consulting psychology and data, Jonathan Gottschall has determined that storytelling is everything. Timothy Snyder begs to differ ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“While death can be an astute career move for underrecognized writers, it proved critically disastrous for T.S. Eliot” ... more »


Jan. 5, 2022

Articles of Note

Has travel writing, a once-venerated literary genre, lost its direction? ... more »


New Books

What does it mean to consult the papers of a person or institution when they're stored not on paper but in digital flotsam? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

What explains Amia Srinivasan’s popularity? Perhaps her tendency to avoid hard conclusions, argues Katha Pollitt ... more »


Jan. 4, 2022

Articles of Note

Sinclair Lewis and the invention of the midlife crisis. In the social evolution of America, George F. Babbitt is a fictional landmark... more »


New Books

Duels that didn't prove fatal often gave rise to friendship. "Facing death together prompted a mutual respect"... more »


Essays & Opinions

Even an obscure book by a great writer should never be considered obsolete. Consider the newfound relevance of Thomas Mann's Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man... more »


Jan. 3, 2022

Articles of Note

Why are Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach still regarded as the greatest composers? If Edison were born today, what would he invent? Human progress is very uneven ... more »


New Books

John Tierney raises a glass to the civilization-building power and distinct hedonic satisfaction of a stiff drink — or two... more »


Essays & Opinions

In 1865, Dostoevsky suggested a story idea to his editor and asked for 300 rubles. Thus Raskolnikov’s inauspicious origins... more »


Jan. 1, 2022

Articles of Note

With three hearts, green blood, and surprisingly advanced cognition, the humble cuttlefish may offer evolutionary clues ... more »


New Books

What to read in 2022? W Magazine... FT... WSJ... Time... Vogue... BuzzFeed... Guardian... NYT... more »


Essays & Opinions

Forget “blast!” or “confound it all!” Sometimes, as new research shows, proper swearing is what we need... more »


Dec. 31, 2021

Articles of Note

Among 19th-century American farmers distrustful of banks and England, a financial philosophy flourished: the coin-standard... more »


New Books

John McWhorter’s Woke Racism caricatures antiracist thinking and reads like an extended Twitter rant ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The history of the tractor. John Deere’s Model D squared off against Henry Ford’s Model F and an ingenious “Tractivator” ... more »


Dec. 30, 2021

Articles of Note

What if T.S. Eliot, who had a cold at the time, hadn’t turned down an invitation to visit from Virginia Woolf, who was spiraling into depression? She died shortly thereafter... more »


New Books

A critic’s lament: Too many books, too little time. Michael Dirda on 12 overlooked titles... more »


Essays & Opinions

Once you are attuned to it, disgust is everywhere. But does it really define — and explain — humanity? ... more »


Dec. 29, 2021

Articles of Note

bell hooks, who rewrote our understanding of Black feminism, is dead. She was 69 ... NY Times... Jennifer Schuessler... Hua Hsu... Tressie McMillan Cottom... Danica Savonick... Sophie Smith... more »


New Books

When men are mistaken for gods, what follows are questions of identity, myth, and intellectual inferiority... more »


Essays & Opinions

Hannah Arendt’s work is fundamentally about the discovery of human freedom and its gradual disappearance... more »


Dec. 28, 2021

Articles of Note

Seventy-one writers reflect on 2021: an evil year, a relentless year, a year of suffering and loss ... more »


New Books

Often overlooked for contemporary novels like Lolita or Catch-22, Evan S. Connell’s Mrs. Bridge is a quiet masterpiece... more »


Essays & Opinions

“In a world infatuated with victimhood, has trauma emerged as a passport to status — our red badge of courage?”... more »


Dec. 27, 2021

Articles of Note

Our hearing influences how we feel, see, move, and think. But we've forgotten how to listen... more »


New Books

"I can't tell if it's ignorance or cynicism, but for Andrew Sullivan to condemn tribal thinking is like watching an arsonist call the fire department"  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"If art ... performs any form of moral service, it does so by alerting us to the difficulties of being moral"  ... more »


Dec. 25, 2021

Articles of Note

In 1913, Kandinsky produced a 33-page exegesis on three of his paintings. Should works of art require such explanatory aids? ... more »


New Books

As interviewer, essayist, editor, or critic, Donald Hall produced prose that was always supple, probing, funny... more »


Essays & Opinions

Who needs English or political science, universities are wondering, when there’s engineering and computer science ... more »


Dec. 24, 2021

Articles of Note

Joan Didion — novelist, essayist, memoirist, consummate stylist, icon of cool — is dead. She was 87... Parul Sehgal... Megan Garber... Nathan Heller... Emma Cline... Zadie Smith... Michiko Kakutani... Jay Caspian Kang... Len Gutkin... Hilton Als... Ross Douthat... Washington Post... more »


New Books

Theodor Adorno and Gershom Scholem, as different as “a sea creature and a land animal,” kept up a 30-year correspondence... more »


Essays & Opinions

Wittgenstein, who regarded philosophy as a “kind of magic,” noted more than a few parallels linking conjurers and philosophers ... more »


Dec. 23, 2021

Articles of Note

What is it about our politics that no matter the topic, we usually end up arguing over the definitions of our words?... more »


New Books

When it comes to the stickiness of economic ideas, what matters more: stories or theories? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Robert Zaretsky is a professor devoted to reading in a world where his students are not. How absurd, right?... more »


Dec. 22, 2021

Articles of Note

The publishing house Merve intended to jump-start German Marxism. It failed miserably... more »


New Books

In 1792, Francisco Goya went deaf. He found a new language through sketching in pen and ink ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Graydon Carter: “The Christopher Hitchens I knew and adored wouldn’t be like the majority of us, huddling in our trembling silence” ... more »


Dec. 21, 2021

Articles of Note

Wilfred M. McClay's paradox: While we "know” more about the American past, we know less because we fail to grasp its overarching meaning ... more »


New Books

It’s fashionable to think that the writing life is built on nothing but shallow notions of fame, success, and ambition. Why? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Confessions of a crossword constructor: The puzzle “acts as a window into our fantasies, tastes, and unyielding fixations” ... more »


Dec. 20, 2021

Articles of Note

Does Richard Dawkins have an impulse to offend, or the belief that one must never be afraid of stridency?  ... more »


New Books

Among today’s Goth, New Age, and Wicca cultists, the monstrous has acquired a new seductiveness ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Suicide has long been a concern of theology, philosophy, and, more recently, medicine. But what of the things no medicine can cure?  ... more »


Dec. 18, 2021

Articles of Note

In the wake of the French Revolution, dancing swept Paris. The “waltzmania” was not well received by all  ... more »


New Books

We live in infantilizing times. Let us at least drink like adults. Eric Felten explains ... more »


Essays & Opinions

George Steiner didn't give rise to a distinctive school of criticism. He was foremost a critic of critics  ... more »