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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
July 24, 2021

Articles of Note

Who was the original Falstaff or Iago? So iconic are these characters, it’s hard to imagine the actors who originally performed them   ... more »


New Books

To cool down, seals urinate on themselves, bees vomit, storks defecate. We sweat, for better and worse   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A mystery novel by a pseudonymous author arrives with a warning: “Advance Promotional Copy: Do Not Read.” Was it just a ploy for virality, or something else?   ... more »


July 23, 2021

Articles of Note

Moby Dick, the shark from Jaws, Stephen King's Cujo - animals perpetrate plenty of violence in art. Violence against animals, however? That's taboo  ... more »


New Books

Almost every culture has a ritual of getting drunk in one another's company. What evolutionary purpose does intoxication serve?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The kind of writing that Janet Malcolm practiced so beautifully had long been disappearing when she died. Today it is nearly gone ... more »


July 22, 2021

Articles of Note

We give professional titles too much status. Why use an honorific for your physician but not your plumber? Tyler Cowen explains  ... more »


New Books

Out with cataloging, in with “interventions”? The study of antiquity is increasingly designed to buttress rather than question contemporary pieties  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The symbolic and social-media triumphs of Black celebrity intellectuals do not translate into meaningful change for the masses  ... more »


July 21, 2021

Articles of Note

"Bad philosophy — like bad sex — can be formulaic and uninspired." That hasn't stopped Amia Srinivasan from developing a philosophy of porn... more »


New Books

Thoreau-bashing is in vogue, but it is misdirected. The real problem isn’t his quietism, but his obsession with self-emancipation  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Our fact-challenged times have inspired a cottage industry testifying to the prescience of Hannah Arendt. But what was she actually saying?  ... more »


July 20, 2021

Articles of Note

Ishmael Reed is not a fan of Hamilton, Amanda Gorman, the James Baldwin revival, or anti-racism — which he calls “the new yoga”   ... more »


New Books

Gabo and Mercedes met when she was 9 and he was 14. It was a marriage that lasted decades and survived literary stardom  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Classics has been charged with racism, colonialism, and fascism. Some rush to condemn the field, others to defend it — but there’s a middle way   ... more »


July 19, 2021

Articles of Note

What happens when an academic idea escapes into the wild? It simplifies, evolves, and becomes untethered from empirical reality ... more »


New Books

Was Graham Greene a Catholic writer or a writer who happened to be Catholic? Either way, he knew not to confuse theological and literary standards ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The future-oriented poetry of Osip Mandelstam’s contemporaries seems dated now. His words, however, have flourished with time ... more »


July 17, 2021

Articles of Note

How do you tell the difference between a for-profit online master's program and an M.F.A. from Columbia? You can't. Kevin Carey explains... more »


New Books

Among other things, Jenny Diski proved that invention can arise from indolence as much as creativity... more »


Essays & Opinions

Nuclear war, rising oceans, biotech gone mad — literature is awash with dystopian themes. We need a little more of the utopian impulse... more »


July 16, 2021

Articles of Note

Christopher Ricks, 87, sounds off on Harold Bloom, Iris Murdoch, and the unfortunate rise of personal anecdotes in book reviewing  ... more »


New Books

Decades of occasional pieces and private blasts reveal Richard Dawkins’s inimitable mix of grandeur and scorn  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Lauren Berlant’s “beautiful disservice”: making others believe “that the university was a place where love, care, and original thought could flourish”  ... more »


July 15, 2021

Articles of Note

Is it racist to not agree with Robin DiAngelo about what things are racist? Her new book suggests so... more »


New Books

A litany of recent novels skewers the art world not for its hypocrisy, venality, or elitism, but for its disturbing vacuousness... more »


Essays & Opinions

America’s aspirational class assumes that its social and cultural capital are valued and coveted by all. They’re not   ... more »


July 14, 2021

Articles of Note

For Simone Weil, what we owe each other isn’t couched in considerations of circumstance, but rather in the universality of pain   ... more »


New Books

“I have a rule of never looking back,” Ian Fleming said. “Otherwise I’d wonder, ‘How could I write such piffle?’”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Almanacs strike a balance between practicality, poetry, and serendipity. The reward is a wonderfully freeing randomness   ... more »


July 13, 2021

Articles of Note

Seventy-six rediscovered pages — the holy grail of Proustianism — reveal the author’s ambivalence towards his Jewishness  ... more »


New Books

July 27, 1794, was no ordinary day. In a mere 24 hours, the tide of the French Revolution turned from radical to conservative  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“If you call for a bookstore not to stock your enemy’s book or rejoice when a problematic classic is taken out of print, your enemy will do the same”  ... more »


July 12, 2021

Articles of Note

Is the universe open-ended? A physicist unpacks Scott Aaronson’s thesis that random unpredictability is not the same as free will... more »


New Books

It’s all well and good to bash the triumphalism of the “cognitive elite.” But what does reforming meritocracy actually look like?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ibram X. Kendi: The freakout over critical race theory isn’t a culture war with two sides — it’s CRT’s critics arguing among themselves   ... more »


July 10, 2021

Articles of Note

One argument for teaching the liberal arts is that they help students deal with uncertainties in life. But that doesn’t hold up... more »


New Books

Salman Rushdie can be an infuriating, humble-bragging, preposterous, tone-deaf know-it-all. And it’s all entirely forgivable... more »


Essays & Opinions

Will future generations read The Dream Songs? John Berryman makes an easy target in today’s cultural climate   ... more »


July 9, 2021

Articles of Note

The late Lauren Berlant: “A relation of cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing”   ... more »


New Books

Condemned by Kate Millet as an apologist for the patriarchy and priest of the phallus, does D.H. Lawrence deserve a second look?... more »


Essays & Opinions

A “Cat Person” quandary: How to feel when your relationship, rewritten and memorialized, becomes the world’s most viral short story... more »


July 8, 2021

Articles of Note

The newsletter is the ultimate form for a moment in which writers feel pressure to produce a steady stream of advertisements for themselves”... more »


New Books

Adrienne Rich’s war on tokenism. Honorary degrees, letters of recommendation, National Book Awards — to Rich, they all stank   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa’s political writings were a sort of fugitive polemic — an attack on everything from a vantage point of nowhere   ... more »


July 7, 2021

Articles of Note

Lord Monboddo was known for exercising naked and theorizing that orangutans were, in fact, humans too lazy to learn how to speak... more »


New Books

Poe’s triumph. He made polymathic contributions despite the challenges he faced first as an orphan and then living in debt, with an invalid wife... more »


Essays & Opinions

Alice Neel’s career as a struggling typist, stenographer, and painter raises a question: How do broke, self-supporting female artists do it?   ... more »


July 6, 2021

Articles of Note

When the Medicis reclaimed control of Florence in 1512, artists had two choices: flee — as Michelangelo did — or flatter   ... more »


New Books

Voltaire is said to have consumed 72 cups a day; Balzac ate the grounds directly. Did coffee help cause the Enlightenment?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Knowledge, truth, justice — why do we spend so much time arguing over grand abstractions? The answer is rooted in pragmatism   ... more »


July 5, 2021

Articles of Note

Wallace Stevens walking, Harold Bloom in the mailroom — the long view from the Yale English department... more »


New Books

In a new thriller written with James Patterson, Bill Clinton reveals such a naked fantasy version of himself that you can feel embarrassed for him... more »


Essays & Opinions

“The yeoman farmer as patriot and model citizen.” Did the influential books of early America contribute to cultural homogeneity?... more »


July 3, 2021

Articles of Note

Margaret Mead’s gender theories went from radical to reactionary. Was mere middle-aged frumpery to blame?  ... more »


New Books

The eccentricities of English. The language’s fitful development is an endless tussle between logic and habit  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A matter of taste. All responses to art are fundamentally personal, but not all are equally valid  ... more »


July 2, 2021

Articles of Note

Can novelists see the future? The German military decided to put that premise to a test   ... more »


New Books

The meat paradox. How do people who care about animals manage not to care about farm animals... more »


Essays & Opinions

Orwell's “Politics and the English Language” has been assigned to millions of students. We're doing them a disservice ... more »


July 1, 2021

Articles of Note

People used to visit libraries to stroll through the stacks. Now they sit and scroll. What's lost is serendipity... more »


New Books

To the philosopher Marsilio Ficino, scholars suffered from “divine madness.” His cure: rising before dawn and combing one’s hair 40 times, front to back... more »


Essays & Opinions

For Kant and Nietzsche, complaining and whining were weak, lowly actions. But Simone Weil saw beauty and magic in them... more »


June 30, 2021

Articles of Note

The infamous study of the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" was marred by fraudulent evidence and conflicts of interest - and yet there was no retraction. Why not?  ... more »


New Books

Listen to the way members of a cult talk and one thing becomes clear: You've probably at some point been in one  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Harold Rosenberg ran with no packs and subscribed to no schools. He remained an individual amid collective credos and styles  ... more »


June 29, 2021

Articles of Note

In publishing, a generational conflict rages between the under-40s and the over-40s. At stake: the relationship between art and artist... more »


New Books

Most widows of the Middle Ages have vanished into obscurity. But some of them shaped art history  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

As Adorno’s war against unthinking, nihilistic students shows, radical intellectuals should not always support leftist revolutionaries  ... more »


June 28, 2021

Articles of Note

In the life of any big idea, it eventually becomes untethered from its origins. Critical race theory is undergoing such a moment  ... more »


New Books

Yes, meritocracy is flawed. But it sure beats nepotism, patronage, clientelism, and venality  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Great storytellers are rarer than great writers, says the agent Morton Janklow. Was Jackie Collins a great storyteller?  ... more »


June 26, 2021

Articles of Note

Avaricious, vain, envious, lazy: a previously unknown memoir paints a decidedly unflattering portrait of John Locke... more »


New Books

Pablo Neruda’s memoir is stunningly vain, morally abhorrent, yet beautifully written. A new version renders it complete — or does it?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Pablo Neruda’s memoir is stunningly vain, morally abhorrent, yet beautifully written. A new version renders it complete — or does it?... more »


June 25, 2021

Articles of Note

In the West, we confine dreams to the realms of superstition and metaphysics. But in other societies, dream-sharing is a serious business   ... more »


New Books

In recent novels by Lauren Oyler and Patricia Lockwood, deceit, conspiracy theories, and dumb jokes thrive online. Tell us something we don’t know... more »


Essays & Opinions

New Black satire. The Dave Chappelle fatalism of the early 2000s has given way to sincerity and demands for action   ... more »


June 24, 2021

Articles of Note

Among the lousy job options for Venetians: serving pizza, selling fake local “artifacts,” and working at the Venice Biennale... more »


New Books

Cats seem to “accept life as a gift,” while we anxiously speculate about death, writes John Gray, who has compiled 10 feline philosophical lessons... more »


Essays & Opinions

A recurring pattern: Simone Weil acted solely on conviction — while in the background her parents made sure she survived her attempts to live out her ideals... more »


June 23, 2021

Articles of Note

The asterisk dates back at least to Aristarchus of Samothrace, who edited Homer. It has been used to signal caution — marking plagiarism, omissions, and vulgarity... more »


New Books

The economist Albert O. Hirschman’s insights have been watered down by Gladwell and Sunstein into “Hirschmanisms,” bland chestnuts repeated by the dinner-party bore... more »


Essays & Opinions

Does having views typical of one’s time absolve one from the judgment of future generations? Consider the example of Winston Churchill... more »


June 22, 2021

Articles of Note

In his later years, John Le Carré lost what had been a strength: restraint and understatement. Politics began to intrude  ... more »


New Books

Edgar Allan Poe’s zigzags from astronomy to the occult suggest a tragic narrowing in what it means to be scientific... more »


Essays & Opinions

The hopeful pessimist. For half a century, Wendell Berry has been a portrait of how to live without despair when losing is likely  ... more »


June 21, 2021

Articles of Note

The word blurb was coined in 1907, but marketing puff is as old as novels themselves. Nowadays it's a grubby economy of mutual back-scratching  ... more »


New Books

George Packer, one our best reporters and storytellers, has a knack for picking memorable subjects. His latest: his own anxieties about America's future   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Historical fiction has long been the fusty domain of mothballed characters using words like “Prithee!” No more  ... more »