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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
June 24, 2019

Articles of Note

Philip Larkin's parents were awkward people and not very good at being happy. "These things rub off," he said... more »


New Books

Einstein during World War I. Cut off from scientists abroad, he tried to extend his untested ideas about relativity into a more powerful theory... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Summer reading is always a balancing act between the books I have loved, the books I feel I oughta love, and the books I sense I will love"... more »


June 22, 2019

Articles of Note

Want to see how components of modernism become a source of lament? Enter the fallen world of motels. Geoff Dyer explains... more »


New Books

Thirty years since Cass Sunstein's first steps as a public intellectual, the world has changed. But not his ideas, or his dreary prose... more »


Essays & Opinions

Is discussion overrated? Is it not as likely to generate bitterness, and division as it is to enlighten or foster consensus?... more »


June 21, 2019

Articles of Note

The knowledge illusion. Only rarely do we allow ourselves to glimpse the epistemological abyss gaping beneath our beliefs... more »


New Books

Sherlock Holmes and his world are an inexhaustible source of spinoffs, parodies, and adaptations. Michael Dirda has the latest... more »


Essays & Opinions

If the Apollo missions brought us the age of consumer technology, Jill Lepore isn't impressed: "My country went to the moon and all I got was this lousy surveillance state"... more »


June 20, 2019

Articles of Note

Planning to stay at peak intellectual performance into old age? Odds are you won’t. Indeed, decline may already have set in... more »


New Books

"If what makes humans unique is the power of seeing what is not there, what makes them so destructive is that they believe what they have seen to be real"... more »


Essays & Opinions

The buzzword of this decade is authenticity, which is a shame because it impedes progress and aspiration... more »


June 19, 2019

Articles of Note

"There’s been a degradation of the quality of our intellectual life," says Glenn Loury. "To the extent that I’ve contributed to that, I regret it."... more »


New Books

A psychologist studying empathy is like a climatologist studying polar ice: "We discover how valuable it is just as it recedes all around us”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Svetlana Alexievich is on a mission to collect memories before they disappear, to correct for the rewriting of history by propaganda... more »


June 18, 2019

Articles of Note

In 1943, Francoise Gilot was a wannabe painter and an aspiring intellectual with little firsthand experience. Then she met Picasso... more »


New Books

When people write about Vasily Grossman, they often start by complaining that he is insufficiently appreciated — which is hardly true... more »


Essays & Opinions

“We live today in a laboratory of human suffering as vast and terrible as that in which Dickens and Dostoyevsky wrote.” The America of Nelson Algren’s imagination... more »


June 17, 2019

Articles of Note

The painter Étienne Terrus had been largely forgotten until a museum devoted to his work was established in the mid-'90s. Why is the collection riddled with fakes?... more »


New Books

Before its “golden age,” TV was thought to be formulaic, fluffy trash. The change in regard is in no small part the work of Emily Nussbaum... more »


Essays & Opinions

Lacan, the terrible. He was avaricious, classist, and an awful father. Tasked with treating his suffering daughter, he headed to the brothel instead... more »


June 15, 2019

Articles of Note

Science wars, Seinfeld, Sokal: What was postmodernism? No other idea from the humanities had so major, if murky, an influence... more »


New Books

Pundit on a pilgrimage. For David Brooks, a midlife awakening yielded a most unexpected insight into himself: “I realized I was a religious person”... more »


Essays & Opinions

The origins of beach reading. A 19th-century invention, it was for “airy, buoyant, salty, sunny, breezy” books. Or, it was the consumption of “pestiferous trash”... more »


June 14, 2019

Articles of Note

There simply is no such person as a young Janet Malcolm. So ostentatious is she in her adulthood, young writers experience it as a rebuke... more »


New Books

Graham Greene in Havana. What better destination for a novelist who delighted in exposing conflicting loyalties and shifting political allegiances?... more »


Essays & Opinions

What is liberalism? A politics? A temperament? A credo? Maybe it's like a rhinoceros: A once-successful animal that now stands on the edge of extinction... more »


June 13, 2019

Articles of Note

The day Agatha Christie disappeared. She left her house on the evening of December 4, 1926, and wasn't seen again for two weeks... more »


New Books

Robert Caro is a scholar of power — how it's obtained, how it's used. So it's odd that he seems so oblivious to his own... more »


Essays & Opinions

The debate over political correctness has devolved into camps hardened by moralism and hypocrisy. Another path is possible... more »


June 12, 2019

Articles of Note

How did Frantz Fanon, intellectual father of third-world revolution, end up dying in a Maryland hospital “almost literally in the arms of the CIA”?... more »


New Books

“London’s only Lady detective.” Maud West had a talent for disguise, infiltration, and self-promotion. Her career is a snapshot of social change... more »


Essays & Opinions

Jared Diamond once at least went through the motions of adding statistical and scholarly evidence to his books. No longer... more »


June 11, 2019

Articles of Note

What makes an “auteur“”? Answering requires a look back at the diatribe of a 21-year-old against “false legends” in French cinema... more »


New Books

Nothing to lose but our iPhones. Cal Newport’s "digital minimalism" might restore solitude, conversation, and leisure to overcrowded lives... more »


Essays & Opinions

Intellectuals easily uncover Orwellian traits in American politics. They have a harder time, writes George Packer, acknowledging the Thought Police closer to home... more »


June 10, 2019

Articles of Note

Manet's final years were marked by syphilis, severe and chronic pain, and amputation of a leg. Also, some of his most remarkable paintings... more »


New Books

The lost art of reading holy texts. We too often seek only superficial confirmation of our interpretive biases. A more deliberate approach is needed... more »


Essays & Opinions

Andrea Dworkin was prescient; she lived a version of Me Too long before Me Too. Yet her analysis of pornography has little traction. Why?... more »


June 8, 2019

Articles of Note

Farewell, Tin House. After 20 years of publishing more than 1,500 writers, the literary magazine for “brilliant weirdos” is calling it quits... more »


New Books

Why we obsess over what we wear: New clothes appear to bestow a charm and intellect we otherwise can’t quite muster... more »


Essays & Opinions

Sylvia Plath at Smith College. She read Chaucer and Dante, and she broke off relationships. “I want a man who isn’t jealous of my creativity in other fields than children”... more »


June 7, 2019

Articles of Note

Trust books to be accurate? Big mistake: There are no good mechanisms to make sure they aren't laden with errors — as some are... more »


New Books

The most enterprising Marxist. Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin, offers a manifesto for socialism that is thrillingly non-utopian... more »


Essays & Opinions

This year the Modern Language Association’s annual conference took as its principal subject the death of its own significance... more »


June 6, 2019

Articles of Note

Where to begin, upon discovering an entire world of knowledge? Such was the plight of the 12th-century scholar Bernard of Chartres... more »


New Books

The Naomi Wolf formula: convert dissatisfaction into epiphany, ignore facts and laws of nature, make blanket recommendations for all women... more »


Essays & Opinions

The ever-expanding subtitle. Publishers pile up keywords in a mad attempt to boost SEO. Time for readers to revolt?... more »


June 5, 2019

Articles of Note

“This is a warning message as to what’s coming.” FBI documents allege that Martin Luther King Jr. was a bystander to rape. Is the evidence credible?... more »


New Books

How best to tell the story of philosophy? Instead of moving from one peak to another, wander the fertile valleys in between... more »


Essays & Opinions

Against knowledge. It’s a crude, archaic concept, a relic of a bygone age, and it harms our real ways of thinking... more »


June 4, 2019

Articles of Note

"Back then, God help us, it was a badge of dishonor not to have slept with your professor." Bennington College in the 1980s... more »


New Books

Time to read and think and, for Wordsworth, ply his skills with the spade. Why were the Quantock Hills so inspiring to Romantic poets?... more »


Essays & Opinions

It’s like Waze, but for social theory. Cass Sunstein wants government to help citizens navigate their lives. What if they don’t know where to go?... more »


June 3, 2019

Articles of Note

H.G. Wells didn’t know when to stop. He kept writing long after the fires of originality had burned out, and so ruined his reputation... more »


New Books

The rise of Pushkinography. Academics have flocked to the author, at the rate of three books published per day. Is there anything new to say?... more »


Essays & Opinions

For Adrienne Rich, the great philosopher of secrets, the wish to keep and share them goes to the heart of intimacy, and why we value art... more »


June 1, 2019

Articles of Note

Walt Whitman's homosexuality. To think of him simply as a gay man is fraught, not least because he was primarily interested in boys, not men... more »


New Books

The first appearance of the word Orwellian? Mary McCarthy used it to describe the fashion magazine Flair... more »


Essays & Opinions

The click-swipe-and-rate economy has devastated journalism, art, literature, and entertainment. Now it's coming for the academy... more »


May 31, 2019

Articles of Note

The intersectionality wars: When an obscure academic theory goes mainstream and becomes something other than itself... more »


New Books

The Regency years in Britain — 1811-1820 — involved more than spotlessly dressed dandies, lascivious rakes, and Elizabeth Bennet look-alikes... more »


Essays & Opinions

When are writers polymaths, and when are they merely trespassing superficially into areas of knowledge they haven’t mastered? The lesson of Naomi Wolf... more »


May 30, 2019

Articles of Note

To Oscar Wilde, there was no such thing as a moral or immoral piece of art. Why has this view fallen out of favor with critics?... more »


New Books

E.P. Thompson suffered an endless series of heroic defeats but refused grubby compromises and went down guns blazing... more »


Essays & Opinions

Art in an age of self-exposure. Gone is the withholding of secrets — novelists now put self-consciousness front and center... more »


May 29, 2019

Articles of Note

Peter Max’s psychedelic art always sold well. As he developed dementia, opportunists stepped in. Cue the surreal allegations and the lawsuits... more »


New Books

John Williams put a lot of himself into his most famous protagonist, William Stoner, a lackluster professor and difficult man... more »


Essays & Opinions

The idea that thinkers should distinguish private from public views is associated with Leo Strauss and the right. Now it's ascendant on the left... more »


May 28, 2019

Articles of Note

Quillette bills itself as a rare bastion of free thought. Is it an island of sanity — or reactionary conservatism for the Ph.D. set?... more »


New Books

Peacock tongue and fried dormice, brain-stuffed sausages, caviar-stuffed crayfish, liters of wine poured by naked waiters: The Romans took gluttony seriously... more »


Essays & Opinions

Should writers still make things up? With more fact-based fiction, purely fictional fiction faces a new reality... more »


May 27, 2019

Articles of Note

The enclosed life. In the Middle Ages in Europe, hundreds of religious recluses permanently sealed themselves inside small rooms. Why?... more »


New Books

Art criticism is art. It makes meaning out of the seemingly indecipherable, elucidating existential stakes. No one does this better than Peter Schjeldahl... more »


Essays & Opinions

“The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him," said Arthur Miller, who understood shame... more »


May 25, 2019

Articles of Note

Imagine writing a masterpiece and never getting to see it in print. Such was the fate of Vasily Grossman... more »


New Books

Step aside, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill. Meet the oddballs, underdogs, and outcasts of British philosophy... more »


Essays & Opinions

She had Sartre for conversation; he, only drunks and gamblers. Inside the short-lived long-distance relationship of Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir... more »


May 24, 2019

Articles of Note

Storytelling was Shakespeare’s gift, and no stories gripped him more than those of classical antiquity... more »


New Books

The dissents of Wendell Berry. His dislikes include weather forecasts, unsmelly bathrooms, ballroom dancing, and the moon landing... more »


Essays & Opinions

Leslie Epstein has spent 40 years in the same wooden chair in the same lopsided room teaching fiction. The job is changing... more »


May 23, 2019

Articles of Note

Natural preserves have been havens from the modern world, a place to get away. On social media, the good spots can no longer hide... more »


New Books

In the Western tradition, what’s the most powerful and persuasive construct of the human imagination? It’s the idea of hell... more »


Essays & Opinions

Slaughterhouse Five at 50. Despite Vonnegut’s conviction that the book was a failure, it has endured surprisingly well... more »


May 22, 2019

Articles of Note

Mozart’s revolution. He composed for aristocrats and the public alike, exploding class lines in a frenzy of creativity... more »


New Books

The history of psychiatry is the history of our beliefs about our own minds. Breakthrough and disappointment, dogmas and counter-dogmas... more »


Essays & Opinions

"How much you can learn from someone by looking very carefully at them without judgement.” Lucian Freud’s brute nudity... more »


May 21, 2019

Articles of Note

The odyssey of Sean Wilentz, part New York intellectual, part Beltway pundit, part meticulous historian... more »


New Books

It cannot be the fate of the book to become tweetlike. The book must stand above. A case study in what happens when it doesn't... more »


Essays & Opinions

The web is awash in tips from successful women writers — here’s what they’re reading, their Sunday routine. Does it help us understand them?... more »