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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
April 24, 2024

Articles of Note

“A death by bureaucracy.” Why is the University of Oxford shuttering its Future of Humanity Institute?... more »


New Books

Dwight Garner on Joseph Epstein: “His sentences read as if they were written by a sentient tasseled loafer and edited by a sentient bow tie”... more »


Essays & Opinions

In 1953, Margaret Macdonald advanced a bold theory: “Philosophical theories are much more like good stories than scientific explanations”... more »


April 23, 2024

Articles of Note

When did it become embarrassing to like classical music? When it became thought of as an elite art... more »


New Books

A tidy lawn, a model home, good local schools — suburbia lured Americans by the millions. But it was a trap... more »


Essays & Opinions

Animals mock efforts to classify and master them. Our formidable opponents include coral, rattlesnakes, stingrays, and raccoons... more »


April 22, 2024

Articles of Note

Leonard Cohen was in a dark place: He hated poetry, and folk music, the hippie scene. Then the Yom Kippur War broke out... more »


New Books

Nostalgia” was coined in 1688 to denote a painful, even deadly form of homesickness. It still has a bad reputation... more »


Essays & Opinions

Descartes’s stove. Comfort is key to thought, and so the maxim “I think, therefore I am,” may be rewritten: “I think in a stove-heated room, therefore I am”... more »


April 19, 2024

Articles of Note

A homogeneous Harlem Renaissance? The period’s art depicts pool halls, jazz clubs, formal dinners, and social groups at odds with one another... more »


New Books

A provocation: What if our world is not enlightened at all, but a product of the Enlightenment’s failure?... more »


Essays & Opinions

“I was born for opposition.” Lord Byron’s scandalous affairs and flouting of convention led to his becoming a social outcast... more »


April 18, 2024

Articles of Note

We read the classics but ignore much of what readers once enjoyed: forgeries, pseudotranslations, and other ephemera from the dustbin of literary history... more »


New Books

For the philosopher Byung-Chul Han, relentless posting and liking on social media are evidence of the vacuity of modern life... more »


Essays & Opinions

Culture is no longer a way of transcending the political but the language in which certain key political demands are framed and fought out”... more »


April 17, 2024

Articles of Note

“The Recluse of Amherst.” Emily Dickinson’s life, it turns out, was full of baking, corresponding, and humor... more »


New Books

Hypochondria is a learning disease. The more we understand about the ways our bodies can fail, the more we have to fear... more »


Essays & Opinions

How do artists begin? By making sketches and lines in notebooks, by waiting, by gathering fragments, and by finding hope... more »


April 16, 2024

Articles of Note

Making art in the streaming era: Wall Street cash buoyed the era of “prestige TV,” but then that money dried up... more »


New Books

AI robots can help us explore Mars, perform surgeries, and deliver aid to disaster zones. So is our robot-assisted future bright?... more »


Essays & Opinions

In praise of walking. “At three miles an hour, the world is a continuum. … There are no beginnings or endings, only continuity”... more »


April 15, 2024

Articles of Note

Is Glenn Loury’s new memoir a brave act of self-reckoning or a reckless act of self-sabotage?... more »


New Books

Between the emergence of humans and the invention of writing is blank space. To fill it, we have a half-cocked concept: prehistory... more »


Essays & Opinions

“There’s an invigorating novelty in seeing a master try something new without immediately becoming virtuosic”... more »


April 12, 2024

Articles of Note

“That is right,” Joseph Priestley said when he completed editing the manuscript. “I have now done.” Minutes later, he was dead... more »


New Books

A decade before the Sokal hoax, critical theory was lampooned in a German essay: “Lacancan und Derridada”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, a compelling account of nationalism’s origins, speaks little to its contemporary re-emergence... more »


April 11, 2024

Articles of Note

“I will dedicate all my work to her, forever.” The novelist Carson McCullers had a habit of overdoing her romantic pronouncements... more »


New Books

Norman Podhoretz's masculinity problem — and ours. Why were the New York Intellectuals so preoccupied with manliness? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Most newspaper columnists sink into a comfortable bath of hackery. Others have a fountain of ideas, but all of their ideas are bad... more »


April 10, 2024

Articles of Note

George Orwell was an altogether weirder person, and 1984 a weirder novel, than we’ve appreciated... more »


New Books

“[Lauren] Oyler clearly wishes to be a person who says brilliant things ... but she lacks the curiosity that would permit her to do so”... more »


Essays & Opinions

The new academic politics are not a recipe for disciplinary longevity, let alone for saving the planet... more »


April 9, 2024

Articles of Note

How do artists think? Where do they begin? How do they know when they’re done? Adam Moss looks for answers... more »


New Books

Exhortations to “sit up straight!” ring from Goop to TikTok to hatha yoga to the far reaches of YouTube. Why so much posture panic?... more »


Essays & Opinions

What was the intellectual dark web? A worthy project gone bad or a fraud based on spurious grievances?... more »


April 8, 2024

Articles of Note

In the winter of 1959, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton audited a course given by Robert Lowell. They were forever changed as poets... more »


New Books

Sheila Heti has been editing and reworking her 500,000 word diary for a decade. The result is a kind of Symbolist poetry... more »


Essays & Opinions

Beethoven’s secret code. Do handwritten scribbles in his manuscripts reveal elaborate musical directions lost for centuries?... more »


April 5, 2024

Articles of Note

“It was easy for people to just remember and regurgitate ‘r > g.’” Thomas Piketty reflects on his best seller a decade after its publication... more »


New Books

Imagine that social critics were to excise cynicism from their social criticism. Peter Gordon makes the case... more »


Essays & Opinions

Second chances teach us that repetition is not mechanistic or meaningless — and that we can be the authors, not merely the victims, of our lives... more »


April 4, 2024

Articles of Note

John Barth, who believed the old conventions of literary expression were “used up,” is dead. He was 93... more »


New Books

Stories about the end of the world are as old as stories themselves. We are obsessed with our own demise... more »


Essays & Opinions

What is space for? Yes, adventure, exploration, exploitation. But maybe space is really just for space... more »


April 3, 2024

Articles of Note

Contemporary writing on liberalism consists of two types: autopsies and demonologies... more »


New Books

The contradictions of Ian Fleming: loving yet cruel, arrogant yet insecure, spiteful yet generous... more »


Essays & Opinions

We think of Robert Frost as the good, gray poet of the New England woods. His work was darker — and more demonic — than that... more »


April 2, 2024

Articles of Note

Long a widely shared ideal, “equality” is now seen as promoting a specious universalism. A new virtue has replaced it: “equity”... more »


New Books

Crossword puzzles work because words are drenched in meanings, shapes, and sounds. Becca Rothfeld explains... more »


Essays & Opinions

“I am after small truths, not after truth with a capital T.” Daniel Kahneman in perhaps his final interview ... more »


April 1, 2024

Articles of Note

Jamaicans are ready to embrace Tacky’s Revolt, an uprising of enslaved Africans on the island in 1760. For a pioneering historian, that’s complicated... more »


New Books

Classics in crisis. What the field needs is a sweeping history of Roman emperors and their influence beyond Europe... more »


Essays & Opinions

"No matter how many books, articles, Tweets, and TikToks I’d gobbled up, it had apparently eluded me that no one was ever going to say I’d produced enough"... more »


March 29, 2024

Articles of Note

H.P. Lovecraft, philosopher. His fiction blended materialism, determinism, and atheism into a new school of thought: “cosmic indifferentism”... more »


New Books

Contemporary Stoicism is all aphorism and motivational cliche. It is toothless — practically to the point of meaninglessness... more »


Essays & Opinions

Radicalism is a complex and sometimes paradoxical posture, one that Raymond Williams wrestled with his entire life... more »


March 28, 2024

Articles of Note

Daniel Kahneman, who marveled at “endlessly complicated” human psychology, is dead. He was 90... NYT... Daniel Engber... more »


New Books

By the 19th century, educated elites had little time for ghosts, demons, and other apparitions. The Society for Psychical Research, on the other hand... more »


Essays & Opinions

As an editor, Toni Morrison wrote hundreds of rejection letters – long, generous, critical, and freshly unearthed from the archive... more »


March 27, 2024

Articles of Note

Caravaggio’s final crimes: carrying a sword without a permit, smearing excrement on a house, smashing a plate of artichokes in the face of a waiter... more »


New Books

For women among the New York Intellectuals, men wanted to sleep with you or write like you. Or both... more »


Essays & Opinions

Gender’s enemies. Judith Butler targets conservative Christians, white supremacists, and trans-exclusionary radical feminists... more »


March 26, 2024

Articles of Note

Joseph Epstein, with scores to settle, wrote a memoir. Why was he fired as editor of The American Scholar?... more »


New Books

“Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?” Paradoxes sound absurd, but they can be logically sustained... more »


Essays & Opinions

Reading Shakespeare in its original English can be hard going at first. But his example will always show us what is possible... more »


March 25, 2024

Articles of Note

The physical world is full of inefficiencies. Cue the “digital twin,” where they can be ironed out virtually then reflected back into reality... more »


New Books

Jesus, and other magi. Early variants of Christianity championed Pontius Pilate, Apollonius, and a holy snake... more »


Essays & Opinions

“We live in an unheroic and disillusioned moment, and—as to sales—a moment when ambitious novels have become a niche taste”... more »


March 22, 2024

Articles of Note

Marilynne Robinson: “I consider the Bible to be the most complex document on the planet”... more »


New Books

Cities have become frictionless, optimized sites of consumerism and productivity. In other words, they have lost their humanity... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Monster of Ravenna, the Monk Calf, and, of course, the Pope Ass. Why were 16th-century luminaries printing pamphlets on monsters?... more »


March 21, 2024

Articles of Note

Does “coming out of the closet” turn gay men into oppressors of the more marginalized? Queer theory seems to think so... more »


New Books

In 1959, Sonny Rollins vanished. No performing and no recording for two years. Turns out he kept a diary... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Those of us who consume and participate in culture today… are all, at some level, hypocrites, complicit in the fortification of our own aesthetic prison”... more »


March 20, 2024

Articles of Note

The publishing industry is notoriously sleepy. But here come the Silicon-Valley inflected CEOs spouting MBAisms... more »


New Books

Shakespeare’s “sisters.” Women writers in the Renaissance were constrained by disinheritance, marital disputes, legal trou­bles, and humiliation... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ishiguro drafted The Remains of the Day in four weeks. It took Min Jin Lee 28 years to write Pachinko. But slow writing has its virtues... more »


March 19, 2024

Articles of Note

Whither the “litblog”? Blogs were once at the center of the online cultural ecosystem. The appetite for such work has diminished... more »


New Books

Lauren Oyler’s essays “contain not arguments or judgments so much as advertisements for a conspicuously edgy personality”... more »


Essays & Opinions

"The university campus is rapidly becoming a locus of infantilizing social control that any independent-minded student should seek to escape" ... more »


March 18, 2024

Articles of Note

Wicked baronets and disastrous marriages — the “sensation novels” of the 1860s updated Gothic elements for Victorian sensibilities... more »


New Books

The feminist history of the crossword puzzle. Some of the form’s early champions were women working for little to no pay... more »


Essays & Opinions

Dante was shaped by two deep longings – for Beatrice and for the city of Florence – that together fueled his poetry... more »


March 15, 2024

Articles of Note

In 2020, a star physicist claimed an incredible advance: a room temperature superconductor. Retractions followed... more »


New Books

Bernard Malamud sounded nothing like Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. His stories are no less essential... more »


Essays & Opinions

Economics is in disarray, says Angus Deaton. Part of the problem is an overenthusiastic belief in the efficacy of markets... more »


March 14, 2024

Articles of Note

Wonders emerge in the ocean’s deepest trenches: corals, crustaceans, a multitude of bizarre fish. Also: nuclear waste and tins of Spam... more »


New Books

Medieval England had amulets for everything: to preserve health, to protect grain from vermin, to help children understand crows... more »


Essays & Opinions

The reputation of the historical novel is ascendant but perplexing. Is the appeal primarily pedagogical, moral, or escapist?... more »