April 19, 2019 | Both Tolkien and Lewis experienced World War I’s Western Front. But it’s not clear how this formed either Middle Earth or Narnia... more »


April 18, 2019 | Lévi-Strauss at his peak. He was featured in Playboy and Elle. Even the French soccer team was reorganized along his principles... more »


April 17, 2019 | We admire law and order, embrace reasons and causes, seek predictability. Except when we don't. This tension is evident in modern aesthetics... more »


April 16, 2019 | Philosophy demands refutation and disputation, not kindness and empathy. Fighting, done right, is a form of inquiry... more »


April 15, 2019 | "The time of two balls has passed. The age of one ball has begun." Colm Tóibín confronts cancer, chemo, and months on the sofa... more »


April 13, 2019 | To use words like “fugacious,” “crepuscular,” and “chthonic” is to invite accusations of pretentiousness. But that's better than language austerity... more »


April 12, 2019 | What's happening with Hans Blumenberg? Long eclipsed, the late German thinker is having a moment. On metaphors, history, and lions... more »


April 11, 2019 | Putting sounds into words. "Writing about food is hard; writing about perfume must be even harder; but writing about music is difficult enough"... more »


April 10, 2019 | From life hacks to digital-detox schemes, the pressure to be more efficient is everywhere. Maybe it's time to try something else: Doing nothing... more »


April 9, 2019 | The problem with satire is not that it mocks and belittles; that's the point. The problem is that social media has rendered it both quaint and futile... more »


April 8, 2019 | Intellectual promiscuity, of the sort Nathan Glazer epitomized, is discouraged in higher education today. His death underscores troubling changes in American life... more »


April 6, 2019 | Our age of suspicion. Why are the most impressive intellectuals suspected of harboring the darkest reactionary thoughts? Consider the case of Alain Finkielkraut... more »


April 5, 2019 | We don’t get to choose our influences. Yet it still comes as a surprise to learn that the book that caused Harold Bloom the most "anxiety of influence" is a little-known 1920 fantasy novel... more »


April 4, 2019 | Prose over everything. William Gass’s indomitable lyricism obliterates the plot and ideas in his works. To read him is to surrender to style... more »


April 3, 2019 | A hideous history of skin. In the 16th and 17th centuries, flaying caught the notice of Titian and Sir Thomas Browne, whose attentions went beyond morbid curiosity... more »


April 2, 2019 | Ian Buruma on his tenure at the New York Review: "Editors should be able to take risks. Denunciation, instead of debate, will result in a kind of fearful conformity”... more »


April 1, 2019 | In old age, Ingmar Bergman grew exasperated with filmmaking and turned to a mode of expression that he pursued with startling intimacy: novels... more »


March 30, 2019 | How to appreciate bad books. Works that appear devoid of value — a 17th-century history of medicine, a trashy romance novel — often contain surprising depths... more »


March 29, 2019 | The digital humanities are doomed, victimized by shoddy logic and bad math. Maybe. Or maybe they promise a sunny intellectual future for a suffering field... more... more »


March 28, 2019 | "I’ve never thought about death in my entire life," says Vivian Gornick. "The people I know who talk about death are very banal and bore me to death"... more »


March 27, 2019 | Toni Morrison’s writing refuses to comfort, to seduce, or to pander to our expectations. Instead she is unabashedly, unapologetically difficult... more »


March 26, 2019 | Tchaikovsky, futurist? Though deeply conservative in life and in art, he embraced avant-garde concepts in order to counter them... more »


March 25, 2019 | Philosophy's anti-Semitism problem. To what extent has the field's history, as well as its professional habits and pieties, been shaped by religious intolerance and other forms of bigotry?... more »


March 23, 2019 | Literary parties are generally awkward disasters. This holds in fiction and in life. As John O’Hara put it, they are about “terrible people” getting “gloriously drunk”... more »


March 22, 2019 | Hannah Arendt knew that being human in inhuman times is hard, occasionally impossible work. She is a thinker of the difficult, a thinker for now... more »


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