Nov. 13, 2018 | Automata of antiquity. Mythic Crete was the Silicon Valley of the ancient world, home of the cryptic maze, manned flight, self-guided arrows... more »


Nov. 12, 2018 | Tragedy and religion. Disease killed her son; her husband fell off a mountain. "No one escapes terrible loss," says Elaine Pagels... more »


Nov. 10, 2018 | Hermann Hesse was intent on alienating his parents. He smoked, read Turgenev with a revolver, and wrote bad poetry... more »


Nov. 9, 2018 | The Enlightenment definitively and rigidly shapes modern society. But the idea of all-encompassing rationality is a mirage... more »


Nov. 8, 2018 | The unlikely odyssey of Sergei Shchukin: How a Russian textile magnate became one of the most important patrons of the Parisian avant-garde... more »


Nov. 7, 2018 | The two Sylvia Plaths. How to reconcile her cheery letters — cooking, acquiring a hunky husband — with a disenchanting domestic life?... more »


Nov. 6, 2018 | The Beast of Beverly Hills. Architectural Digest made a fortune by placing a good bet: Americans would drool over celebrity, money, and power... more »


Nov. 5, 2018 | Life on the lecture circuit. Frederick Douglass’s moral crusade entailed exhausting rail journeys, hostile mobs, and time away from his dysfunctional family... more »


Nov. 3, 2018 | The many Karl Marxes: He is relentlessly reinterpreted, analyzed, medicalized, flattered, and diminished. Why can't we stop talking about him?... more »


Nov. 2, 2018 | Saul Bellow's youthful Trotskyism had, by the mid-‘60s, given way to liberalism. Then he wrote the first neoconservative novel, Mr. Sammler’s Planet... more »


Nov. 1, 2018 | The cloaked fiend. Vampires, seen philosophically, represent “black illumination” and “blasphemous life.” They are a dark, epistemic riddle... more »


Oct. 31, 2018 | The appeal of Stoic philosophy to both ancient Romans and today’s therapy-chasing Americans is unsurprising. But darkness is at the heart of Stoicism... more »


Oct. 30, 2018 | "By one estimate," says Carl Zimmer, "genealogy has now become the second-most-popular search topic on the internet. It is outranked only by porn"... more »


Oct. 29, 2018 | A character study of God. Literary criticism is a valuable way to understand religious texts. But do the same methods work for the Bible and Quran?... more »


Oct. 27, 2018 | For Jill Lepore, history is about how we know what we know (or think we do), and what to make of the gap between evidence and truth... more »


Oct. 26, 2018 | His mother was his muse. Philip Larkin wrote home with terrifying frequency but didn’t have much to say beyond the trivial... more »


Oct. 25, 2018 | Hauntings, haints, and wraiths of every stripe and disposition appear in today’s literary fiction. But what to make of literature’s spectral moment?... more »


Oct. 24, 2018 | Lionel Trilling did not care to be a critic or to be thought of as one. He always seemed to want to be somewhere else, doing something else... more »


Oct. 23, 2018 | Writers and their fathers. In the space between what Joyce knew about his father, a violent drunk, and what Joyce felt about him, the author forged his style... more »


Oct. 22, 2018 | It’s tempting to think that enchantment ended with the Enlightenment. But what of Isaac Newton’s alchemy, the Frankfurt School’s occult leanings, Americans’ belief in demonic possession?... more »


Oct. 20, 2018 | A strange first job. After Oxford, Anthony Powell joined perhaps the only publishing house run by someone who hated books and considered authors “a natural enemy”... more »


Oct. 19, 2018 | The literature of identity can be self-obsessed, isolating, and overwhelmingly aggrieved. But it can also rally us to the cause of individual freedom... more »


Oct. 18, 2018 | Cy Twombly fell for Robert Rauschenberg, an Italian heiress, and, reportedly, his own assistant. His art, like his love life, was inscrutable... more »


Oct. 17, 2018 | George Scialabba is a mind out of time. His temper — a radical who demonstrates the virtues of conservatism — is the very opposite of what passes for serious thought these days... more »


Oct. 16, 2018 | Gandhi: Behind the cuddly icon was a relentlessly counterintuitive thinker — self-sacrifice over self-interest, obligations over rights, dying over killing... more »


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