May 26, 2018 | Heinrich Heine was neither deep nor strikingly original, and he did little to advance the intellectual debates of his time. What made him a major figure was his indomitable spirit... more »


May 25, 2018 | A work of art can be incisive, beautiful, discomfiting, or representative, but not necessary. So why do critics keep using that word?... more »


May 24, 2018 | Leonardo and the riddle of authentication. His works have resurfaced with surprising frequency. Can an expert eye really detect when it's the real thing?... more »


May 23, 2018 | “Performance art” once involved raucous Dadaists; now it’s a Lady Gaga performance or Kanye West tweet. Why have pop stars started dealing in high-concept abstractions?... more »


May 22, 2018 | In higher education, the ubiquity of innovation-speak masks a dearth of actual innovation. The latest fad: design thinking. It's a boondoggle... more »


May 21, 2018 | When erotic misadventures and poetry became tiresome for Byron, he turned to military command, with 600 Greek troops and an audacious plan. Fiasco followed... more »


May 19, 2018 | The Enlightenment started with philosophical insights spread by a new technology. We face a dominant technology — artificial intelligence — in search of a philosophy... more »


May 18, 2018 | Dickens heard his characters speak. Woolf heard birds singing in Greek. The treatment for hearing voices has long been: ignore them. What if we listened instead?... more »


May 17, 2018 | Is an intellectual’s responsibility to think, or to enact a political argument? The question once distinguished little magazines from think tanks, but that has changed... more »


May 16, 2018 | Travel writing is a genre prone to indulgence but also capable of carrying considerable weight. Patrick Leigh Fermor was a master at managing that tension... more »


May 15, 2018 | Think of genius not as an isolated individual, but as the spirit of circumstance. Genius is contingent — precarious, rare, magical... more »


May 14, 2018 | How Victorian essayists used tact to come up with a creative rather than controlling, playful rather than violent way of handling not only other people but also the world and its objects... more »


May 12, 2018 | “The evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza.” At the age of 23, the future philosopher was expelled from his Jewish community. What had he done?... more »


May 11, 2018 | Chekhov, Beckett, Woolf, Poe — all childless. Thomas Mann had kids but locked himself in his room and forbade them to disturb him. Are kids kryptonite to writers?... more »


May 10, 2018 | Dostoevsky, broke. He ducked landlords, always lost at roulette, and pawned his wife’s dowry and their clothing. One project dominated his thinking: The Idiot... more »


May 9, 2018 | Derided by Dadaists and Surrealists and hijacked by contemporary narcissism, beauty is an idea that's been up and down. What does it mean today?... more »


May 8, 2018 | Timothy Snyder is one of our foremost historians of evil. He also personifies a certain paranoid style that has taken hold of liberals... more »


May 7, 2018 | Much of the work we do has no social value, and we hate doing it. Then there’s higher education, where the problem is acute. David Graeber on the bullshitization of academic life... more »


May 5, 2018 | The Nobel Prize for Literature is beset by scandal. But this has nothing to do with sex. The scandal is that the prize ever had any credibility at all... more »


May 4, 2018 | Who doesn't love to beat up on literary theory? It's justified, but it's not the reason undergraduates aren't getting the education they deserve... more »


May 3, 2018 | The Kuhn cult. Admiration for the philosopher is misplaced, says Errol Morris. Kuhn's thinking is unoriginal. Worse, it's an assault on truth... more »


May 2, 2018 | Poems that hide in plain sight. Famous works, anthologized, widely read, become so encrusted with criticism it’s hard to see them anew... more »


May 1, 2018 | Pity the poor pun. Reviled for its smirking stupidity, its ubiquity in advertising and talk-show banter, the wordplay deserves better... more »


April 30, 2018 | Wallace Thurman: editor, novelist, playwright. “A strangely brilliant Black boy who had read everything," said Langston Hughes, "and whose critical mind could find something wrong with everything he read”... more »


April 28, 2018 | What Frida Kahlo is to Mexico, Julia de Burgos is to Puerto Rico. Except that de Burgos isn't well known to the rest of the world. Why not?... more »


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