March 21, 2019 | “I detonate around him.” It’s easy to mock bad sex writing — especially that of Lawrence, Mailer, or E.L. James. But does that get us any closer to good sex writing?... more »


March 20, 2019 | J. Edgar Hoover sought to destroy Nelson Algren’s career — and was largely successful. Now Algren’s proletarian literature is back in fashion... more »


March 19, 2019 | A history of the color black. From Goya’s terrifying “black paintings” to Tristram Shandy’s entirely black page, the color has a singular power... more »


March 18, 2019 | Who has the gall to tell the entire human race how to feel? Philosophers, that's who. Their counsel: Calm down, be rational. Is anyone listening?... more »


March 16, 2019 | The cheery, bland age of “books coverage.” Reviews have been replaced by listicles, gift ideas, and promotional Q&As. We deserve better... more »


March 15, 2019 | Call it what you want – the fix, the bunco, the gyp, the sting – what exactly is it that we find so compelling about con artists?... more »


March 14, 2019 | We celebrate foreignness in literature — but only the sort that we recognize in our own lives. A true acceptance of international writing requires more... more »


March 13, 2019 | A scourge has taken hold of English departments: niceness. Where once political criticism thrived, fandom now reigns... more »


March 12, 2019 | Were John Ruskin to see our society, he would find its two most notable features to be hatred of beauty and worship of machines. Alan Jacobs explains... more »


March 11, 2019 | In defense of Instagram poetry. As Samuel Johnson said, “to circumscribe poetry by a definition will only show the narrowness of the definer”... more »


March 9, 2019 | Murdering to Mozart. Once, classical music was the backbone of popular entertainment. Now it's portrayed as a handmaiden to sadism and psychopathic violence... more »


March 8, 2019 | Vonnegut’s moral clarity. More than any other writer, he cut through cant and sophistry to expose self-deceptions for what they are... more »


March 7, 2019 | Richard Rorty took a therapeutic approach to philosophy. Indeed, he wanted to transform it into therapy. We're still dealing with the political implications... more »


March 6, 2019 | The idea of a "good death" is commonplace, as if death were something at which we succeed or fail, something to achieve. Better to think of a "fitting death"... more »


March 5, 2019 | Art forces us to consider the experience of others — but it that a good thing? For Paul Bloom, empathy is selfish and shortsighted. For Knausgaard, it's banal... more »


March 4, 2019 | It's been said that if nature could write, it would write like Tolstoy. It's his unsurpassed realism that makes reading War and Peace unlike reading any other book... more »


March 2, 2019 | The rise of the pedantic professor. When academic self-regard becomes an intellectual style, no nit is too small to pick... more »


March 1, 2019 | The “female Byron.” With her amorous poetry and drug addiction, Letitia Elizabeth Landon was ill-suited for her increasingly Victorian times... more »


Feb. 28, 2019 | Philosophers tend to speak to one another. But so-called public philosophy aspires to liberate the field from the academy. Is that a good thing?... more »


Feb. 27, 2019 | Lionel Trilling is known foremost as a critic and professor. Turns out he didn't want to be either. He yearned to be a novelist... more »


Feb. 26, 2019 | Jordan Peterson’s collection of Soviet-era artworks, comprising more than 300 pieces, has taught him something: "Nothing is powerful enough to stand in the way of art"... more »


Feb. 25, 2019 | The film project Dau began simply enough, as a biopic about a physicist. It became something else entirely — either a work of genius or total madness... more »


Feb. 23, 2019 | Failure is at the heart of both learning and moral complexity. It was David Foster Wallace’s master theme, his tool for evoking irony and tragedy... more »


Feb. 22, 2019 | The continuing uglification of our world. Modernism, with its place-destroying structures, has transformed architecture. It’s time for a return to aesthetics... more »


Feb. 21, 2019 | It’s time for Diderot, long overshadowed by Voltaire and Rousseau, to receive his due: He was not only a founder of modernity; he was the first postmodernist... more »


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