April 25, 2017 | In 2010, Google said it would scan all 129,864,880 books in the world, building the greatest library that's ever existed. It failed, sort of  ... more »


April 24, 2017 | Nabokov was self-involved, even callous. His fiction isn't praised for its compassion. But was he so uncaring as to leave a wounded man to die?... more »


April 22, 2017 | Why are we still interested in the story of the Benson family? Sure, it includes eccentrics, Victorian patriarchs, and repressed sexuality. But also: That clan couldn’t stop writing... more »


April 21, 2017 | We suffer from “nature-deficit disorder” and the accompanying pretenses of citified life. Take a cue from Hobbes, Rousseau, Einstein, Dickens, and Hazlitt: Take a hike... more »


April 20, 2017 | Once upon a time, a bar-brawling but talented malcontent could make a career as a professor. Consider the improbable 30-year employment of Harry Crews... more »


April 19, 2017 | Transhumanists tend to see religion as a threat. But the movement's appeal is fundamentally religious, a secular outgrowth of Christian eschatology... more »


April 18, 2017 | A dyspeptic crank? The music critic Virgil Thomson slept through performances, dismissed beloved works, and reviewed his own compositions. Yet he changed classical music for the better... more »


April 17, 2017 | When Empson went East. The literary critic, booted from Cambridge after condoms were discovered in his room, left for Japan and China. It was a professional calamity that proved fortunate ... more »


April 15, 2017 | Against celebrity profiles. They’re manufactured, devoid of connection between subject and writer, and fail to reveal the self-delusions and rationalizations that make people interesting... more »


April 14, 2017 | What makes a critical judgment true? It's a question that preoccupied T.S. Eliot, whose case for the proper function of criticism is brilliant, angry, and unsatisfying... more »


April 13, 2017 | "We’re in a culture with very few real friends, and an enormous number of unctuous sales people who will adopt the language of friendship, care and help.” Mark Greif on our dishonest times... more »


April 12, 2017 | The marketplace of ideas is now the Ideas Industry. This has empowered "Thought Leaders" and undermined public intellectuals... more »


April 11, 2017 | “Dead of the world, unite!” urged the Russian school of cosmism in the 1920’s. How dissimilar is today’s refrain from Silicon Valley: “Immortality now!”?... more »


April 10, 2017 | In 1961, a Vienesse bibliophile purchased a mysterious text for $24,500. The Voynich Manuscript remains an enigma. It isn't a modern forgery, but it may be a medieval hoax... more »


April 8, 2017 | Long ago the ideas of equality and a common humanity were unthinkable; today they are the default position of almost all of us. How did that happen?... more »


April 7, 2017 | Is style ancillary to an artist’s genius or fundamental to it? Consider Georgia O’Keeffe’s silk dresses, blouses, shoes, along with her self-crafted persona... more »


April 6, 2017 | The writing of John Berger can seem kitschy, deluded, masculinist, creepy. But in his strangeness were kindness and sincerity. He sought above all to help us see more clearly... more »


April 5, 2017 | How to think like a philosopher: Consider contrary cases, test grandiose claims with extreme examples, accept that it’s rare to prove anything conclusively... more »


April 4, 2017 | Freud envisioned civilization’s advances bringing not happiness but unassuaged guilt. That's one explanation for the prestige of victims in the contemporary world... more »


April 3, 2017 | Granta asks, Is travel writing dead? Silly question, says Geoff Dyer. Dickens, Dickinson, and Dillard can all be placed in the genre. What writing isn’t travel writing?... more »


April 1, 2017 | Darwin worked a few hours a day. Trollope wrote only between 5 to 8 a.m. — and published 47 novels. They weren't accomplished despite their leisurely schedules; they were accomplished because of them... more »


March 31, 2017 | Picture your ideal cultural critics. Can they weigh in on poetry, film, literature? Speak multiple languages? Write with wit and a political edge? Didn’t think so... more »


March 30, 2017 | Pick a topic, say traveling while being frugal and worshipful. There's a podcast about that; it's called "Hobo for Christ." Podcasts tend to be specialized. That's the problem... more »


March 29, 2017 | Long before he encountered Marx, Lenin was radicalized by literature. He read Shakespeare, Goethe, and Pushkin aloud. He was hostile to the avant-garde... more »


March 28, 2017 | Writers have long been envious of the visual language of painters. Yet “We don’t read Maupassant for the colors, or Zola for the lighting,” says Julian Barnes... more »


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