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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Dec. 11, 2019

Articles of Note

Isaiah Berlin produced political theory for real people, showing that humanity itself is the main barrier to making the world a better place... more »


New Books

Nabokov enjoyed knockout punches — both in boxing, where he took them, and in criticism, where he landed them... more »


Essays & Opinions

Walter Benjamin wrote his last work on the backs of colorful envelopes — green, yellow, orange, blue, cream. They were written for a future he would never know... more »


Dec. 10, 2019

Articles of Note

Michelangelo was unmarried and lived with a motley bunch of "housemates." Scholars have been left to puzzle over the precise nature of these relationships... more »


New Books

Imagine what life was like 245 million years ago. Hard, isn’t it? Forget fossils — the world of dinosaurs is inherently unfathomable to us... more »


Essays & Opinions

What differentiates people from pigs? Perhaps just the existence of autobiographical memories, from which we construct a self... more »


Dec. 9, 2019

Articles of Note

Walter Benton was once one of America’s most popular poets. His secret? Sensuous, risqué writing that caused teenagers to mob bookstores... more »


New Books

As any pet owner can attest, animals do communicate. But do they have languages? Do mating dances, alarm calls, and meows have a grammar?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Lucian Freud sought to "move the senses by giving an intensification of reality.” He wanted to “shock and amaze.” At that he succeeded spectacularly... more »


Dec. 7, 2019

Articles of Note

The death of Camus. Did the KGB rig his car to make it crash at high speed?... more »


New Books

The genius of Philip Larkin’s poetry was his gift for somehow sublimating our appreciation of life by amplifying its ordinariness... more »


Essays & Opinions

Just as the invisible man’s retreat is a hibernation preparatory to action, Ralph Ellison’s letters are a map of his planned advance... more »


Dec. 6, 2019

Articles of Note

In the '90s, Stanley Fish infamously bemoaned the prevalence of Volvos on college campuses. Now he's dismayed by the ubiquity of Subarus — and what that means... more »


New Books

Who was Edison? To his employees, an Ubermensch; to his investors, a fantasist; to his rivals, a publicity whore; to his family, a stranger... more »


Essays & Opinions

A new science of humanity. In the first half of the 20th century, anthropologists were at the forefront of “the greatest moral battle of our time”... more »


Dec. 5, 2019

Articles of Note

John Berger’s 1972 TV series, Ways of Seeing, was a grenade lobbed at art history. But, as he learned, it’s not easy to follow an act of demolition... more »


New Books

Not her sister’s keeper. Mary-Kay Wilmers is exacting and suspicious of didacticism, especially where feminism is involved... more »


Essays & Opinions

Every era has its fashionable argot. Ours is rife with buzzwords that have gone mainstream: "privilege," "problematic," "cisgender"... more »


Dec. 4, 2019

Articles of Note

For Derrida, friendship was both an ecstatic and a political act — one that required constant thinking about how we’d eulogize our friends... more »


New Books

What you think of religion largely depends on what you think is religion. Stephen Asma has been changing his mind... more »


Essays & Opinions

A more scientifically literate public, it’s presumed, could better distinguish truth. But our problem is not too little science in public culture, but too much... more »


Dec. 3, 2019

Articles of Note

Nabokov’s dislikes: Thomas Mann is a bad writer on a big scale. Freud merits unrelenting mockery. And never trust a translator... more »


New Books

“Historians of ideas were the least useful kind of historians,” held Isaiah Berlin. But there was one exception: Lewis Namier... more »


Essays & Opinions

The flummery of neuroscience: Defeated by the “hard problem” of consciousness, the field postulates one improbable theory after another... more »


Dec. 2, 2019

Articles of Note

John Simon and the art of the brutal pan. "When he saw something he hated, he eviscerated it and ate its liver, and those meals were not infrequent"... more »


New Books

As America’s identity wars go on, the combatants forget a simple truth: Holier-than-thou-ism is as old as the country itself... more »


Essays & Opinions

Amid the grief, grievances, and betrayal in the marriage of Elizabeth Hardwick and Robert Lowell, what remained was a need to write to each other... more »


Nov. 30, 2019

Articles of Note

To accuse someone of “virtue signaling” is to commit that offense yourself, just to a different audience. A philosopher unpacks the moral morass... more »


New Books

For 176 years, The Economist has been the ur-magazine of Anglophone liberalism. Can it survive an illiberal era?... more »


Essays & Opinions

What do the digital, medical, and legal humanities have in common? They subjugate the humanities to applied fields... more »


Nov. 29, 2019

Articles of Note

Clive James is dead. The critic, poet, and incomparable wit, who seemed incapable of writing a limp sentence, was 80... more »


New Books

The unbearable loneliness of the concert pianist. Applause, green room, hotel room, taxi, airport lounge. Reprise, repeat... more »


Essays & Opinions

Wherever one looks in history, rationality is haunted and teased by its other, irrationality. Now the boundary is being abandoned altogether... more »


Nov. 28, 2019

Articles of Note

Napoleon Chagnon, who died recently at the age of 81, was a rebuke to those scholars who don't regard seeking truth as their primary duty... more »


New Books

Horrified by campus debauchery, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia to aim higher. But it quickly became a training ground for “young despots”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Liberal, literary attacks on “woke” culture have something in common: They are expressed in irritable gestures rather than ideas... more »


Nov. 27, 2019

Articles of Note

In 1899 a coal miner died in an accident with a copy of Thucydides in his pocket. The classics used to be integral to working-class British life... more »


New Books

Few architects have been studied more thoroughly than Frank Lloyd Wright. The problem isn't a lack of material. It's a lack of answers... more »


Essays & Opinions

Has Silicon Valley killed creativity? Artists, astrologers, and addicts, pushed out by high rent, find themselves in an impossible situation... more »


Nov. 26, 2019

Articles of Note

George Frideric Handel was, of course, a virtuoso performer and composer. He was good at managing his money, too... more »


New Books

The Epicurean life has a serious side. Hedonists cultivate a practical, prudent way of taking their pleasures... more »


Essays & Opinions

Social media has devolved into a contagion of moral grandstanding and outrage-mongering. And yet it can be fixed... more »


Nov. 25, 2019

Articles of Note

A charismatic leader, a creation myth that begins with an epiphany, and legions of rapturous followers: Is positive psychology science or religion?... more »


New Books

Jared Diamond's new book is a sustained but misleading metaphor. His giant category error: that nation-states behave like individual humans... more »


Essays & Opinions

Modern science rejected Aristotle, turning him into a caricature and a bogeyman. Time to unlearn something important. Aristotle was not “pre-scientific”... more »


Nov. 23, 2019

Articles of Note

Nobel Prize-winning scientists are about 17 times more likely than other scientists to create visual art, 12 times more likely to write poetry... more »


New Books

Ibram Kendi is here to teach you how to be antiracist. His book has the tone of a fundamentalist sermon. Andrew Sullivan is having none of it... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Forcing opinions into the mouths of dead writers is a dangerous style of necrophilia, especially when the writer is Adorno"... more »


Nov. 22, 2019

Articles of Note

Ode to a useless language. Literary Latin is an aesthetic delight masking a dark history... more »


New Books

What is real? How should one live? What government is best? Why do the good suffer and the evil prosper? Philosophy is ever-changing and never-ending... more »


Essays & Opinions

Elaine Showalter was a target of Harold Bloom's attacks. Yet she still found his combination of the melodramatic and ridiculous an engaging shtick... more »


Nov. 21, 2019

Articles of Note

Instead of big, sprawling novels like White Teeth, we now have Knausgaard and Ferrante, who promise so little... more »


New Books

For their coiled, angry masculinity, D.H. Lawrence's essays are indefensible. For their sweep and immaculate style, they are unforgettable... more »


Essays & Opinions

Is plagiarism wrong? Worry less about people stealing from you. Worry more about saying something worth stealing... more »


Nov. 20, 2019

Articles of Note

“She’s turning 80 and she’s just put out the biggest book in the world.” The making of Margaret Atwood... more »


New Books

Puritan” was at first a spiteful nickname for those who were not purer than others but were seen as thinking of themselves that way... more »


Essays & Opinions

September 1, 1939,” perhaps Auden's most-quoted poem, is the one he liked least. Why did it survive all of his attempts to mute or suppress it?... more »


Nov. 19, 2019

Articles of Note

Clifton Fadiman, monarch of the middlebrows, was the target of endless snobby, self-regarding attacks. He deserved better... more »


New Books

James Wood’s transformation: Once fizzing with aphoristic insights, he now writes more carefully, often of aging, exile, and emotion... more »


Essays & Opinions

“I had rather see the portrait of a dog that I know than all the allegorical paintings they can show me,” held Samuel Johnson... more »


Nov. 18, 2019

Articles of Note

"Creepy" is a popular pejorative. But what exactly do we mean when we describe people, usually men, as creepy?... more »


New Books

When Elaine Stritch was called “iconic," she'd get exasperated. “Let’s all level and tell each other what ‘iconic’ means,” she'd say. “It’s a mouthwash!”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Victor Serge was a permanent oppositionist — a committed revolutionary who was a thorn in the side of every movement he supported... more »


Nov. 16, 2019

Articles of Note

John M. Ford was a celebrated science-fiction writer and a dazzling storyteller. When he died, his works disappeared. How did this happen?... more »


New Books

Chaucer’s family was proud of him. But did he really have to wear a tunic so short that it exposed his loins, in red-and-black hosiery?... more »


Essays & Opinions

"The question of what you are is qualitative, not quantitative. What sort? What life? What team? In late 1995, I chose to switch teams.” Deirdre McCloskey on changing gender... more »


Nov. 15, 2019

Articles of Note

“Do we have to read every fucking word the guy writes?” Philip Roth asked about John Updike. The two had spats but saw beyond the rivalry... more »


New Books

“I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child,” wrote Nabokov. So are his interviews at all worthwhile?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Unable to predict a crash or facilitate prosperity, economics is now a field of dubious value. And yet it retains an unearned intellectual authority... more »


Nov. 14, 2019

Articles of Note

Kate Manne’s moral quandary: to respond to all suffering, at the expense of herself? Or to prioritize her philosophical work and live with the guilt?... more »


New Books

When Wittgenstein went to war, the gossip machine quickly determined that he was a burnt-out wreck and a disgrace to the field... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ibsen was reviled by some as immoral, hailed by others as prophetic. James Joyce thought him the most influential intellect of his time. Ibsen retains his potency today... more »


Nov. 13, 2019

Articles of Note

What makes a "bad movie" good? "These sorts of movies fascinate me in the way a too-honest idiot does, after he’s had three or four drinks"... more »


New Books

Is most modern liberalism just the Christian heresy of Pelagianism by another name? A revisionist critique of John Rawls says yes... more »


Essays & Opinions

Which words should be banished? “Adorkable,” “YOLO,” and “influencer” are popular suggestions. But policing language is a fraught exercise... more »


Nov. 12, 2019

Articles of Note

Guilty pleasures make us feel guilty because we know the shoddiness of what we’re getting but desire it all the same. What's going on? Ask Adorno... more »


New Books

Elizabeth Bishop’s dogged pertinacity: She would spend years, even decades, on a poem. Every word, every nuance, had to be perfect... more »


Essays & Opinions

The origin stories of big ideas highlight the eureka moments. But it's the mundane work that is key. Inspiration favors the prepared mind... more »


Nov. 11, 2019

Articles of Note

On May 30, 1975, Nabokov appeared on Apostrophes, a French talk show. He drank whiskey from a teapot and glanced at notecards. The interview was marvelous... more »


New Books

The National Review, American Greatness, and The Claremont Review of Books share a vision of American nationalism. That vision is a lie... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Liberalism" is a slippery word for Americans, who have no experience of anything else. Now critics are falling over themselves... more »


Nov. 9, 2019

Articles of Note

“She walks like a bird, but that bird is a duck.” Short, plump, and ungainly, Loie Fuller was the unlikely star of the French Folies... more »


New Books

Lucian Freud thought Celia Paul was just another pretty muse. But she was a painter herself. Zadie Smith unpacks “museography”... more »


Essays & Opinions

When the Aztecs met Cortés, they did not think he was a deity. Rather, they scouted his forces and set up a war room. So why does another tale persist?... more »


Nov. 8, 2019

Articles of Note

A sexy, transgressive ’70s cult classic urged rolling the dice on life’s big decisions. A search for its elusive, alluring author ... more »


New Books

Science is trustworthy because it works, right? Well, most scientific theories throughout history have turned out to be false. Is our time different?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The sad-lady literary sirens are legion: Plath, Woolf, Jean Rhys. What would it mean, wonders Leslie Jamison, to move beyond them?... more »


Nov. 7, 2019

Articles of Note

In what way is Frank Sinatra the Jacques Derrida of pop music? Because no one was better at multilayered interpretations of lyrics. Ted Gioia explains... more »


New Books

Rivalries, alleged plagiarism, rapturous fandom — the giants of Russia’s golden age of literature had complicated relationships with one another... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Where man strives for knowledge, the Devil will never be far away.” Knausgaard contemplates the power and temptations of literature... more »