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May 30, 2017

Articles of Note

It's where Confucius and Lao Tzu went to think, where Li Bai and Du Fu went to find words, where Mao demonstrated his authority. In China, everything starts with a river... more »


New Books

When sports meets philosophy. Want to test ideas about mutualism and self-interest? Try succeeding inside a cycling peloton... more »


Essays & Opinions

Of all the biographers who have written about Hemingway, not one was a woman. Now comes Mary Dearborn, immune to the writer's hairy-chested legend... more »


May 29, 2017

Articles of Note

Shakespeare and the brain. Stephen Booth is a literary critic with a penetrating view of poetic language. He's transformed our understanding not only of Shakespeare but also of how we think... more »


New Books

In 1940, Czeslaw Milosz had to choose between Nazi and Soviet occupation. Nazism threatened the body, while Communism threatened the soul. For Milosz, the latter was the greater sacrifice ... more »


Essays & Opinions

What is a library? If you think it's just a place where society stores books, then you have a dangerously impoverished view of what knowledge can be... more »


May 27, 2017

Articles of Note

At 32 Nietzsche left Basel to recuperate in Sorrento. There he separated himself from Wagner, which was odd — Wagner was also in Sorrento... more »


New Books

The Midwest wasn't always written about as a second-class culture of yokels and rednecks who lack intellect. Blame Mencken and The New Yorker... more »


Essays & Opinions

Einstein hated beets. Hitchcock wouldn't eat eggs. Colson Whitehead can't stand ice cream. We are what we eat, but what's the significance of what we don't eat?... more »


May 26, 2017

Articles of Note

How can we be? The fMRI can't identify the source of consciousness, but it can bring the problem into sharper relief... more »


New Books

How the Nazis pursued a new aesthetics for a new political order  and showed how swiftly liberal principles can be hollowed out... more »


Essays & Opinions

Fifty years after her genteel verse graced the Yale Younger Poets series, Adrienne Rich had become a dissident. She hadn’t exactly chosen poetry in the first place... more »


May 25, 2017

Articles of Note

Pound and Eliot. Lish and Carver. Brod and Kafka. Fiction editors sit uncomfortably at the intersection of art and commerce. The role is ripe for recrimination... more »


New Books

Evelyn Waugh has been viewed as chiefly a comic writer. And he was funny, in his dark and malicious way. That's not to say he was amusing... more »


Essays & Opinions

Martin Luther, unfiltered. He lived in a bachelor’s chaos and hated Jews, papists, and Calvinists, among others. Then he married a runaway nun who brewed excellent beer... more »


May 24, 2017

Articles of Note

It used to be simple: dark suit, white shirt, discreet tie, black oxfords. Then came "casual Fridays" — and all we lost by dressing down... more »


New Books

Margaret Wise Brown avoided witches, trolls, glass slippers, and sleeping beauties. Instead she revolutionized picture books, even prompting Gertrude Stein to write one... more »


Essays & Opinions

There will be cats. Murakami novels feature felines, detective heroes, and creepy sex. Readers are so hooked on the formula that the variations hardly matter... more »


May 23, 2017

Articles of Note

Is intersectionality solving social ills? Or does it make us stupid? The academic theory, once obscure, is now everywhere... more »


New Books

Diana Trilling was key to her husband's literary success. But did it come at the expense of her own? “People will celebrate one member of a household but not two”... more »


Essays & Opinions

For modern interpreters, Greek tragedy boils down to lessons of power — how to get and keep it. And sexual politics, of course... more »


May 22, 2017

Articles of Note

In 2011, Daryl Bem, a social psychologist, published a paper in a top journal suggesting that ESP is real. That touched off a crisis of confidence in science. Should he be thanked or blamed?... more »


New Books

In the mid-'60s, Edmund Wilson was living alone in the house he inherited from his mother. He was in decline. Meanwhile, Vladimir Nabokov was flush with Lolita royalties. Did envy cause their feud?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Imagination, idealism, an urge for self-transcendence: Why prominent intellectuals have been so willing to support terrible regimes ... more »


May 20, 2017

Articles of Note

Travel writing is not all Kerouac and Chatwin. In fact, it doesn’t have to involve traveling farther than around a room... more »


New Books

Post-truth and its discontents. What is and what isn’t a fact has never been obvious or uncontroversial. There was no golden age of truth... more »


Essays & Opinions

Graduate school is unkind to mind and body. To retain some health, go on dates. Have sex. Come to think of it, the world of online dating is a lot like to the academic job market... more »


May 19, 2017

Articles of Note

A decade ago, highly confessional first-person writing began to flood the internet. Now it’s nearly vanished. What killed the personal essay?... more »


New Books

Norman Podhoretz was everywhere: Arendt’s New Year’s Eve party, Capote’s Black and White Ball. He was the wonder boy of the name-dropping circuit. Then he was cast out... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Passion of Michel Foucault. He was a surrealist, masochist, militant, Maoist, reformist, structuralist, comrade, and lover. He was also suicide-obsessed and hard to ignore... more »


May 18, 2017

Articles of Note

For four days at a sold-out, $1,250-per-ticket conference at a Boston hotel, content marketers offered a vision of the future of media. It's terrifying... more »


New Books

Douglas Coupland gave Generation X its name and became its voice. Then he suffered the fate of most voices of generations: He became irrelevant ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Veronica Forrest-Thomson wrote one volume of criticism before dying at 27. Her ideas are so central that we’ve lost sight of her... more »


May 17, 2017

Articles of Note

“The past is yours, to keep invisible if you wish,” wrote John Ashbery. His own past is quite public, including a 1,000-page teenage diary... more »


New Books

Forget “less is more.” History shows that “more is more” — a saying attributed to an architect, a fashion designer, a novelist, and Dolly Parton ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Laura Kipnis goes in search of that rare thing, a memoir of midlife with no epiphanies and no life lessons. Nothing’s figured out and nothing gets better ... more »


May 16, 2017

Articles of Note

Encouraged by success, F. Scott Fitzgerald continued in a lofty, literary, yet Hollywood-ready mode. But the demands of art and audience rarely aligned... more »


New Books

What comes from a 79-year-old French Maoist lecturing young people about being young? Some genuine insight, surprisingly... more »


Essays & Opinions

Though seen as titans of the literary left, Jameson, Eagleton, and Raymond Williams were more concerned with scholarship than with social intervention. Do they belong to the right?... more »


May 15, 2017

Articles of Note

Do you believe that technology should speed up and intensify? Are you OK with social and political upheaval? Then you might be an accelerationist... more »


New Books

It's not that Heidegger was a windbag with nothing to say. His appeal stemmed from how he said nothing with a capital “N.” In emergencies we listen for capital letters... more »


Essays & Opinions

Anger is a popular emotion. It is seen as an engine of progress, a check on injustice. But it also pollutes democratic politics and is of dubious value in both life and the law, says Martha Nussbaum... more »


May 13, 2017

Articles of Note

While his archrival eluded the KGB to cruise boy bars, Emil Gilels, foremost pianist of the Soviet era, fell in line. In the end, it didn’t matter... more »


New Books

Is pop music poetry? Adam Bradley has a compelling answer: “Pop is a poetry whose success lies in getting you to forget that it is poetry at all”... more »


Essays & Opinions

How cool is cool itself? Not very. It's been the preoccupation of less-than-first-rate writers, shoddy thinkers, and poseurs in general... more »


May 12, 2017

Articles of Note

Christophe Guilluy, who calls himself a geographer, studies gentrification in France. Ideologically and intellectually, he is difficult to place. He's becoming impossible to ignore... more »


New Books

In 1927 the Mississippi River flooded, spreading 80 miles wide at points. One byproduct of the catastrophe: the beginning of the literary careers of Faulkner and Richard Wright... more »


Essays & Opinions

Since Hegel, philosophers have declared the end of art, meaning that no further progress is possible. In that sense, it’s a good thing: Art is now free to be anything... more »


May 11, 2017

Articles of Note

Pointed hats, broomsticks, caldrons, cats. Why do we assume witches look a certain way? Blame the rise of the mass-produced woodcut... more »


New Books

Addicted to opium and always in debt, Thomas De Quincey fled his own child’s wake to escape a creditor. And yet he maintained a curious optimism... more »


Essays & Opinions

Why do Japanese audiences adore Woody Allen films? Because Jewish humor has become a marker of elite sophistication... more »


May 10, 2017

Articles of Note

You’re in your early 20s, your first book is a big success, you're called a genius. How would you react? If you're Dostoevsky, you'd become an insufferable jerk... more »


New Books

For 50 years, William F. Buckley Jr. policed the boundaries of conservatism, casting out extremists, bigots, kooks, anti-Semites, and racists. Or so he thought... more »


Essays & Opinions

Writers once sought silence, exile, and cunning. Today they seek dialogue, community, and workshopping. What's lost when writers are afraid to stand alone?... more »


May 9, 2017

Articles of Note

Poor Nietzsche. Not only is he blamed for World War I and Nazism, but he's maligned as the godfather of postmodern relativism. Nonsense. He was a champion of the Enlightenment... more »


New Books

How Martin Luther King Jr., who married a black sound — a rhythm, a style — to flawless Standard English, helped make "black talk" America's lingua franca ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Canons are formed through critical consensus. Yet consider this: None of the five most profitable films are canonical. You've probably seen them, but don't feel guilty... more »


May 8, 2017

Articles of Note

Shakespeare receives a disproportionate amount of attention. He's unavoidable. But his dominance serves a purpose: It keeps the literary ecosystem functioning... more »


New Books

With the exception of Jesus Christ, more books have been written about Martin Luther than about any other person. What can a new biography add? Quite a lot, actually... more »


Essays & Opinions

Satan's emissary, cunning fox, cold-blooded destroyer: That's the conventional view of Machiavelli. But was his advice in The Prince really meant to be followed?... more »


May 6, 2017

Articles of Note

Ezra and Papa. They partied in Paris, promoted each other's work, and took up boxing. Then Hemingway moved to Key West, and Pound took an interest in Italian politics... more »


New Books

Walt Whitman, lifestyle guru. To cultivate "manly health,” he advised: Get up early, wash with cold water, climb trees, grow beards... more »


Essays & Opinions

Edgar Allan Poe is known for his supernatural horror and detective stories. But in his final major work, Eureka, he turned to cosmology — and was uncannily prescient... more »


May 5, 2017

Articles of Note

Fake Modiglianis began to emerge in the 1920s, soon after his death. Now he is one of the world's most faked artists. There are even fake fakes... more »


New Books

Flaubert lived in revolutionary times. It left him with scorn for political movements and the chronic delusions that enable them ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Art is rooted in emotions. So what happens when algorithms are able to understand and manipulate human emotions better than Mozart, Picasso, or Shakespeare? ... more »


May 4, 2017

Articles of Note

Sex letters. James Joyce sent them. So did Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Proust sent one to his grandfather. In the age of Tinder, does the sex letter have staying power?... more »


New Books

Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil: Critics saw them as "pitiless," "icy," "clinical." They pursued heartlessness as an intellectual style... more »


Essays & Opinions

Nostalgia used to be considered a disease; causes, symptoms, and cures were debated by doctors. Now it's a cultural condition, but no less dangerous... more »


May 3, 2017

Articles of Note

Welcome to Scrutopia, the English countryside enclave of farmers and philosophers, Wagner and wine, animals and Aristotle. Roger Scruton calls it home... more »


New Books

Conventional, proper, unthreatening: That's the Jane Austen we think we know. But modern readers misunderstand her. She was a radical, and not a secret one... more »


Essays & Opinions

"As a writer, my principal observation about why other writers fail is that they are in too much of a hurry," says Malcolm Gladwell. "I don’t think you can write a good book in two years."... more »


May 2, 2017

Articles of Note

Robert Nozick was fed up with trying to win people over to his views. So he limited himself to explaining systems of thought, and forever altered analytic philosophy... more »


New Books

In September 1939, the first days of World War II, Londoners slaughtered 400,000 of their own pets. A curious moral logic was at work... more »


Essays & Opinions

That $1,200 margarita? Blame late capitalism. A $400 internet-connected juicer? Also late capitalism. Fancy lettuces? You guessed it. It's the buzzword that explains everything — or nothing... more »


May 1, 2017

Articles of Note

He conducted without a baton, his hair flopping on his large face. Leonard Bernstein was a star, and that made him suspect... more »


New Books

Ever get the feeling that tech companies took your solitude and monetized it? They have. We've forgotten the value of being alone... more »


Essays & Opinions

Science succeeds because it's evidence-based, which has built public trust. That's now at risk, for reasons technical and cultural... more »


April 29, 2017

Articles of Note

From 1500 to 1700, the way humans read was transformed. They did it in private, at their own pace, rereading and thinking about reading. They deepened a new set of cognitive skills... more »


New Books

Hemingway, the spartan minimalist, and Dos Passos, the cinematic maximalist, became friends in 1923. They parted as enemies at a train station in 1937... more »


Essays & Opinions

George Steiner grew up trilingual, soaked in high culture. Few critics or scholars have been as wide-ranging or provocative. He is the last of the great elitists... more »


April 28, 2017

Articles of Note

For centuries the peat bogs of Northern Europe have yielded remarkably well-preserved ancient cadavers. At least we know how they died... more »


New Books

We think we know more than our ancestors, but as individuals we know less. We comfort ourselves with an illusion of knowledge... more »


Essays & Opinions

In 1973, Jerry Saltz was 22, full of himself and making art obsessively. He battled self-doubt and lost. But he learned how to be a critic... more »


April 27, 2017

Articles of Note

The seeker. Rod Dreher is a spiritually and intellectually restless writer: He's confessional, sincere, and sometimes overwrought. Can he ignite a turn toward modern monasticism?... more »


New Books

Why did Les Misérables, a 500,000-word novel composed over 16 years, conquer the world? Because Victor Hugo, who believed in progress, told a story of irrepressible optimism... more »


Essays & Opinions

The idea that free speech is contrary to social inclusiveness represents a pernicious shift in Western culture. Stifling hate speech does not safeguard the oppressed. It empowers the oppressors... more »


April 26, 2017

Articles of Note

Virginia and Leonard Woolf started Hogarth Press to escape the limitations of publishers. Soon, however, those limitations became their own... more »


New Books

Stalin once thought that under Communism alcohol could be abolished because people would be so happy they wouldn’t want it. Moonshine flourished in the USSR... more »


Essays & Opinions

"To believe that change is driven by technology, when technology is driven by humans, renders force and power invisible," says Jill Lepore... more »