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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Oct. 12, 2019

Articles of Note

Did Susan Sontag’s husband, Philip Rieff, steal credit for her first book? Whoever wrote The Mind of the Moralist is guilty of plagiarism... more »


New Books

Auberon Waugh and the art of writing about wine. Tasting notes include stale cardboard, French train stations, old penknives, and a dead chrysanthemum... more »


Essays & Opinions

The competing visions for modernism included “Make it new,” of course, but also: “Art is dead,” “Realism = Abstraction,” and “victory over the sun”... more »


Oct. 11, 2019

Articles of Note

Noise is a clever enemy — and a ubiquitous one. The noise warriors are committed to combating every gurgle, squeal, clank, and creak... more »


New Books

The anthropologists who coined “cultural relativism” discovered that, in fact, not all cultures were equal. American culture, they felt, was inadequate... more »


Essays & Opinions

“There is a cure for everything. Except longing.” The imprisoned Turkish writer Ahmet Altan on the role of the imagination in prison... more »


Oct. 10, 2019

Articles of Note

We worry that AI will take our jobs. What we should be worried about, writes Ronald Dworkin, is that AI will cause us to lose our minds... more »


New Books

“All they do is show you’ve been to college,” wrote Vonnegut about semicolons. Why does punctuation inspire such strong feelings?... more »


Essays & Opinions

What does sober creativity look like? To find out, Leslie Jamison went to the archives. Early results weren’t promising... more »


Oct. 9, 2019

Articles of Note

A taxonomy of quackery. For centuries, mathematical cranks have promised to square circles and trisect angles. Thus the “crackpot index”... more »


New Books

Philosophy progresses, not by producing better theories, but by the elimination of confusion through the clarification of what, in some sense, we knew all along.”... more »


Essays & Opinions

How Saul Bellow thought about America. The novelist began his career as a critic. He ended it as an eloquent guardian of the nation's soul... more »


Oct. 8, 2019

Articles of Note

He supported war with Mexico, was fiercely nationalistic, and thought abolitionists were too radical. Why do we still venerate Walt Whitman?... more »


New Books

In Greece, Byron’s doctor diagnosed epilepsy and siphoned off half the blood in his body. But perhaps it was the poet’s diet that did him in... more »


Essays & Opinions

Nietzsche’s lonely, desperate intellectual heroism: “Wherever you travel, in sunny climates or in the shadowlands, Nietzsche has gone before you”... more »


Oct. 7, 2019

Articles of Note

Van Gogh and Gauguin are seen as two great loners. Nonsense. Whatever the painters sought to escape, it wasn't human contact... more »


New Books

Seamus Heaney is famous for poems of bogs, ditches, and sectarian violence. But he became a poet of happiness... more »


Essays & Opinions

Against street art. "Kitsch, contrived and uninspiring," it is "the act of an entitled, middle-class narcissist"... more »


Oct. 5, 2019

Articles of Note

Page-turning calamities can be funny. But to those on stage, the work is serious — and fraught. “Dry hands are a particular problem"... more »


New Books

Nicholas Coleridge has heard it all. Young people with sex tips; Prince Andrew on building a golf course; Margaret Thatcher ranting about the lottery... more »


Essays & Opinions

What's the secret to good science writing? Cormac McCarthy has some thoughts. Among them: ease up on the adjectives... more »


Oct. 4, 2019

Articles of Note

No figure in classical music is more iconic than the conductor, or more misunderstood. So what, exactly, do conductors do? You’ll know it when you hear it... more »


New Books

The spectacle of celebrity entertainment coming home to rot was Norman Mailer’s foremost topic. No doubt he would have written a Trump novel... more »


Essays & Opinions

“If they’re killing people for poetry, that means they honor and esteem it, they fear it, that means poetry is power”... more »


Oct. 3, 2019

Articles of Note

“A bit of a curmudgeon, Edward Shils?” He was a man who knew his mind and spoke it freely, saving his sharpest barbs for ex-friends like Saul Bellow and Allan Bloom... more »


New Books

Despite their love, Beauvoir found Sartre rather pathetic. His skirt-chasing didn’t help — nor did his performance in bed... more »


Essays & Opinions

"You don’t bring in a 37-year-old woman to review John Updike in the year of our Lord 2019 unless you’re hoping to see blood on the ceiling"... more »


Oct. 2, 2019

Articles of Note

Foucault rejected the label “theorist.” He saw himself as an experimenter. His ideas were tentative, fragmentary, and prone to change... more »


New Books

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog, warned E.B. and Katharine S. White —nobody cares, and the frog dies in the process. Still academics persist... more »


Essays & Opinions

Has fiction, over the centuries, been the creator of compassion or a vehicle for its containment? Zadie Smith weighs the evidence... more »


Oct. 1, 2019

Articles of Note

Books have long been pronounced dead. The cause? Newspapers, screens, “telephonic sermons,” “crystomatrices.” And yet books endure... more »


New Books

Was one ménage à trois (featuring a famous mezzo-soprano, her art-dealer husband, and Ivan Turgenev) at the heart of Europe’s cultural boom?... more »


Essays & Opinions

“The art of rest,” “how to do nothing,” “digital minimalism” — new self-help books abandon productivity tips for a celebration of solitude... more »


Sept. 30, 2019

Articles of Note

Rachel Carson’s ethic of wonder: "People everywhere are desperately eager for whatever will lift them out of themselves and allow them to believe in the future."... more »


New Books

Ernst Jünger, it was said, had a good World War II. “Some people had dirty hands, some had clean hands, but Jünger had no hands”... more »


Essays & Opinions

Your taste in literature, music, and painting used to say something about you and your values. Now we have something worse: a collective taste truce... more »


Sept. 28, 2019

Articles of Note

Underground knowledge. Plants have the capacity to remember and to learn — is that enough for us to consider them intelligent?... more »


New Books

Computers were the best thing since psychedelics — early Silicon Valley had a cheery, hippie vibe. How things have changed... more »


Essays & Opinions

An inestimably vast grid of rooms linked by an endless spiral staircase. Borges’s “Library of Babel” is a terrifying glance at the horrors of infinitude... more »


Sept. 27, 2019

Articles of Note

Shhh. What do gentle videos of people whispering into overamplified microphones tell us about intimacy in the digital age?... more »


New Books

Religion did not need the growth of secularism to spawn its own criticism; it already contained the challenges that have become commonplace... more »


Essays & Opinions

Behold the prose poem, "a mode of writing that allows the stylist plenty of slack” — to be ponderous, vague, clichéd, and repetitious... more »


Sept. 26, 2019

Articles of Note

A. Alvarez, who championed confessional poetry as he lambasted the “rigid impersonality” of the genteel tradition, is dead at 90... more »


New Books

“Secular liberals dismiss Christianity as a fairy tale, but their values and their view of history remain essentially Christian”... more »


Essays & Opinions

All Ayn Randers aboard! Set sail on the anti-Paul Krugman cruise, where every Pictionary guess is “Ron Paul!”... more »


Sept. 25, 2019

Articles of Note

The criminologist accused of cooking the books. How an anonymous whistle-blower and a police investigation pit a professor against his mentor... more »


New Books

Arthur Koestler's account of the unbearable toll of intellectual orthodoxy is what makes Darkness at Noon a subversive book even today... more »


Essays & Opinions

Widely dismissed, William Blake managed to capture the heart of one wealthy, credulous benefactor. It helped that they shared a passion for séances... more »


Sept. 24, 2019

Articles of Note

The ice caps are melting, your smart fridge is spying on you, catastrophe looms. What’s the point of art in the end times?... more »


New Books

Semicolons: Melville was promiscuous; Vonnegut swore them off as "transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing." Where do you stand?... more »


Essays & Opinions

In “a marketplace of ideas,” accurate information and incisive arguments win out. Too bad no such place exists in real life... more »


Sept. 23, 2019

Articles of Note

Wittgenstein is more cult than argument. His followers know he was right, even if they don't know what he actually meant... more »


New Books

How Thomas Mann, who had written murky paeans to German nationalism, transformed himself into an antifascist polemicist... more »


Essays & Opinions

Are millennials hesitant to have children because childlessness is a moral response to climate change? Or are they merely selfish?... more »


Sept. 21, 2019

Articles of Note

Few mid-century Jewish intellectuals featured Jewishness in their work, and fewer still made it the culmination of their intellectual journey. Irving Kristol was different... more »


New Books

A new biography of Frank Lloyd Wright is convincing about his artistic greatness — and devastating about his essential humanity... more »


Essays & Opinions

Every second of every day, someone is complaining about bias, pointing to evidence that justifies outrage. This arms race in cultural analysis is unwinnable... more »


Sept. 20, 2019

Articles of Note

Want to be a writer? Have I got the workshop for you: renowned chef, massages, inspiration, camaraderie, and quiet. Oh, it'll cost $3,500... more »


New Books

The internet asks us to optimize our appearance, to banish our “dark corners”; it turns our basic humanity into an exploitable viral asset... more »


Essays & Opinions

The road to dictatorship is depressingly predictable. But there is one quality that distinguishes modern tyranny: the cult of personality... more »


Sept. 19, 2019

Articles of Note

Is meritocracy a pernicious myth that stalls social mobility, entrenches an undeserving elite, and undermines public trust in higher education?... more »


New Books

The Yale philosopher Martin Hägglund’s call for “secular faith” is heartfelt. It is also monotonous and out of touch... more »


Essays & Opinions

There are two ways of telling the story of celebrity. The first is that it's modern. The second is that it's ancient. Both are true... more »


Sept. 18, 2019

Articles of Note

The German artist George Grosz warned against Hitler in the ’20s and Western appeasement in the ’30s. Why didn’t anyone listen?... more »


New Books

How we learn to write less badly. So much of the instruction and its fealty to fossilized rules are foolish and counterproductive... more »


Essays & Opinions

After Rawls. He is the central figure in political philosophy, despite a sea change in our political reality. It’s time for something new... more »


Sept. 17, 2019

Articles of Note

Consider the bathtub. "Baths are transformative or transportative, as though they might stroll away on their own claw-footed legs"... more »


New Books

Susan Sontag, envied by many, was without illusions about herself. She reviled her unattractive qualities. Not that she changed her ways... more »


Essays & Opinions

Walter Gropius was mocked by his first wife, scorned by art critics, and pushed out of Harvard — all before Tom Wolfe’s character assassination... more »


Sept. 16, 2019

Articles of Note

James Bennet makes party chat; an MSNBC anchor deplores "cancel culture"; John Podhoretz complains about Twitter: a Bari Weiss book party... more »


New Books

The splendor and misery of Ivan Turgenev's love life. He said he could feel love only when a woman’s heel was pushing his neck into the mud... more »


Essays & Opinions

What comes after liberalism? A network of Catholic conservative thinkers sees in our grim present the opportunity for a better world... more »


Sept. 14, 2019

Articles of Note

An inescapable fact of 20th-century classical music is its overwhelming whiteness. But the buried history of black composers is coming to light... more »


New Books

What lifted Anne Frank's diary above so many other accounts of the Holocaust? Her remarkably intimate descriptions of coming of age in a kind of cage... more »


Essays & Opinions

The political class feared John Ruskin’s anticapitalist thinking. “If we do not crush him … a moral floodgate may fly open and drown us all”... more »


Sept. 13, 2019

Articles of Note

The latest whiz-bang invention from MIT’s Media Lab: a computer that can grow any food. Is this Theranos for plants?... more »


New Books

From the “Golden Age” of TV to “Peak TV,” two constants remain: an escape from reality and the quest for commerce... more »


Essays & Opinions

Eras of elite higher education: Christian college. Gentlemen’s college. Consumer’s college. Now a new era: Comfort college... more »


Sept. 12, 2019

Articles of Note

One night in 1954, after copious amounts of sherry, the quantum physicist Hugh Everett came up with the Many-Worlds theory. It quickly ruined his career... more »


New Books

During his attenuated lifetime, George Gershwin was the most modern guy around; 82 years later — guess what — he still is... more »


Essays & Opinions

In the 1920s, Arendt was Heidegger’s “wood nymph.” When they met again in 1949, she found him childish and dishonest, a recluse lost in the hills... more »


Sept. 11, 2019

Articles of Note

Orwell on the run. Spies and collaborators were everywhere. What allowed him to escape Spain in 1937 was police incompetence... more »


New Books

Malcolm Gladwell’s critics often accuse him of oversimplification. But he's really a master of obfuscation, imposing complexity on everyday life... more »


Essays & Opinions

Cutting edge linguistics research once meant an astute-eared German grocer surveying the nation by bicycle. Today, data miners do the legwork... more »


Sept. 10, 2019

Articles of Note

How two erudite, polished, well-connected New York hustlers conspired to publish the most notorious book in the world and change the definition of obscenity forever... more »


New Books

Susan Sontag urged us to avoid the “crude trap” of linking a woman’s appearance to her intellect. An irony, then, that her biographer falls into it... more »


Essays & Opinions

"For most of his life, Wendell Berry has written as a kind of elegist, detailing the tragic path that we have taken and recalling other paths now mostly fading"... more »


Sept. 9, 2019

Articles of Note

Want to succeed at the mother of all tech incubators, Stanford University? Don’t sleep. Read René Girard (or at least pretend to). And brown-nose relentlessly... more »


New Books

George Orwell was a democratic socialist all his life. So why are 1984 and Animal Farm commonly read as indictments of socialism?... more »


Essays & Opinions

Poetry has grown boring, narcissistic, and precious — in short, easy to hate. It must recover its immediate, electric power... more »