When Nell Zink left college she was determined to avoid the trap of femininity. Then she read The Golden Notebook and affirmed her womanhood for the first time... more »

Francis Picabia was unpredictable, irreverent, improvisational, and not infrequently, amateurish: “A painter whose very maladroitness can leave you feeling uplifted"... more »

Life among the Jargonauts. How do smart academics become insufferable windbags? By failing to ask, “When is my jargon necessary and when am I just being an asshole?”... more »

When consensus was king. For a generation of historians, liberalism and centrism were taken for granted. Now historians no longer know what to think about America... more »

Karl Kraus's The Last Days of Mankind, a World War I epic, ran more than 600 pages and comprised 500 characters. A stage production would take 10 nights. Kraus wrote it for a theater on Mars... more »

Jerusalem is many things, a center of learning and a source of discord and derangement. But it's never been a multicultural paradise, whatever the claims of a blockbuster new exhibit... more »

Voltaire thought Shakespeare "a drunken savage”; Mencken dismissed Gatsby as a "glorified anecdote." Why great critics make terrible judgments... more »

Juan Luis Vives in Paris, Erasmus in Venice. Does the mobility of 16th-century intellectuals explain Europe’s rise in fortunes?... more »

Politics, religion, and calendar reform. In Russia, in 1918, the day after January 31 was proclaimed February 14. The new regime wanted to leap forward... more »

When a novelist like Arundhati Roy turns to nonfiction,it raises a few questions: Does literature still qualify as dissent? What writing do we need in times of social crisis?... more »

"If you are a tenured faculty member, you are both the instrument and the direct beneficiary of exploitation." The economic conditions ravaging the humanities ravage as well the work produced by humanists... more »

"Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." Darwin dealt with human evolution in only 12 words. But that was enough... more »

Writers like Sarah Manguso, have brought the aphorism back in vogue. But the form, which started with Hippocrates, means something new in the time of Twitter... more »

"His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work.” Thus spoke Engels at Marx's funeral, to the 10 people present... more »

"Orwell didn’t foresee Trump. But if Trump were ever to find out about Orwell, he would probably tweet. ‘Really dumb @AnimalFarm. A total loser – no clue!’"... more »

What was it like to live before and during the invention of modern sexuality? Consider Edward and Minnie Benson and their five children... more »

“When I play with my cat,” Montaigne wrote, “how do I know she is not playing with me?” We can learn a lot from cats — contentment, for instance... more »

H.L. Mencken, America's foremost "village atheist," was unmoved by Christianity, but he could not help being intrigued by it... more »

The aquatic Kafka. His journal entry for August 2, 1914 reads: “Germany has declared war on Russia — went swimming in the afternoon.” Was this merely self-absorption?... more »

From pulp writer to religious messiah. L. Ron Hubbard despised science fiction but wrote four million words of it in his lifetime. Why? Because it sold... more »

Henry Green was a writer for radio's golden age, a master of sound, dialogue, slang. When he started to go deaf, he made a joke of it — at first... more »

“The joys of motoring are more or less fictional,” wrote Zelda Fitzgerald. So why, despite Kerouac and Nabokov, do we expect road trips to inspire great writing?... more »

What Victorians looked like. Darwin had a beard and eczema, Tennyson a strange set of false teeth, George Eliot a right hand much larger than her left... more »

In defense of jargon. Words like "performativity," "problematize," and "normative" are alienating, but now is not the time to mock. It's time to double down on them... more »

"Narcissism is the new herpes," says Laura Kipnis. You didn't get it on purpose, but you got it. "Now everyone's pointing fingers and trying to pretend they don't have it, too"... more »

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