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Since 1998, Arts & Letters Daily has linked to more than 17,000 articles, book reviews and essays. Consider supporting us. »
Jan. 18, 2021

Articles of Note

In the late '90s, a professor began talking to Bruno Lohse, art agent to Hermann Göring. Then things got complicated ... more »


New Books

John Richardson once cracked: “Pampered lunatics often reach a great age.” And so it was with Lucian Freud... more »


Essays & Opinions

There’s an app for that! The notion that technology offers the best solution to any problem is appealing. It's also dangerous   ... more »


Jan. 16, 2021

Articles of Note

How many wives did King Henry VIII have? Where does the f-word come from? Wikipedia has the answers. But where did Wikipedia come from?   ... more »


New Books

Dostoevsky in love. What's romance to a man who believed that suffering gave value to existence?   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

How should we read? For Will Self, “we would read as gourmands eat, gobbling down huge gobbets of text” ... more »


Jan. 15, 2021

Articles of Note

1984 is again atop the best-seller list. Cue the rampant misuse of the term “Orwellian” ... more »


New Books

Stop reading like a critic. It’s time we treat Beckett and de Beauvoir the same way we do Beyoncé and the Boss — with devotion  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The paradox of political science: Only by remaining aloof from the messiness of politics can it achieve the scientific authority it craves  ... more »


Jan. 14, 2021

Articles of Note

It was a “moral compass,” “a Grapes of Wrath for our times.” And then it was not. The inside story of American Dirt’s implosion  ... more »


New Books

More than the mother of feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft was the mother of two flesh-and-blood daughters  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“I have never written a plot-driven novel,” held Ursula Le Guin. “I don’t do it; never did it; don’t want to; can’t”  ... more »


Jan. 13, 2021

Articles of Note

Cavemen have been widely studied. Cavewomen, less so. Now science is learning more about the Sheanderthal... more »


New Books

For George Saunders, fiction is fundamentally moral. Despite all that it can teach us, however, it is not our salvation ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The isolation artist. Edward Hopper's paintings make an emotional resurgence amid our sustained solitude  ... more »


Jan. 12, 2021

Articles of Note

Being a beginner is hard at any age, but it gets harder as you get older. Kids, knowing less, can learn more ... more »


New Books

Anne Applebaum is deft at critiquing anyone to her left or right. She is far less willing to interrogate her own assumptions  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

When Catherine Camus was informed of the death of her son Albert, all she could say was, “Too young”  ... more »


Jan. 11, 2021

Articles of Note

Hockney at 83. Pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, crayon, watercolor, photography, iPhone: No medium is uncongenial to his talent ... more »


New Books

“All things are made of elementary particles," says Frank Wilczek. Understanding them is a triumph of modern physics  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Americans say they want 2.5 children, but they're having only 1.7, on average. Why? Ross Douthat's case for larger families... more »


Jan. 9, 2021

Articles of Note

What to do with Nazi art? Hundreds of works, collecting dust in an Army fort in Virginia, may stay there forever ... more »


New Books

When did "fitness" become not just a physical but a moral good, the obligatory aim of every citizen? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ferociously dull and laden with puffery, the academic book review is a tedious genre that's outlived its purpose ... more »


Jan. 8, 2021

Articles of Note

Sylvia Plath is more than the way she died and the man she married. Her art transcends tragedy  ... more »


New Books

The age of wood. Lewis Mumford called it “the most various, the most shapeable, the most serviceable” of materials. It's also the most underappreciated ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The genius of Schubert’s syphilitic years was to draw the listener into his melancholy world, all the while pointing to an unattainable beauty ... more »


Jan. 7, 2021

Articles of Note

What do writers and editors do? Karl Ove Knausgaard investigates an often fraught relationship  ... more »


New Books

Amid these apocalyptic-seeming times, one philosopher’s vision stands out. This is a moment for Machiavelli... more »


Essays & Opinions

René Girard was not a particularly great theorist. It's easy to spot his weaknesses and lacunae. But he is the theorist our era deserves... more »


Jan. 6, 2021

Articles of Note

Sixty years ago, George Steiner declared tragedy dead. Terry Eagleton has come to bury that idea... more »


New Books

Leïla Slimani wins literary accolades for busting taboos around sex and violence. But does her work actually reinforce those conventions?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The goal of all art is inexhaustible precision — something simple, like Melville’s whale, that gains endlessly in complexity... more »


Jan. 5, 2021

Articles of Note

Do dashed expectations among elites lead to social unrest? If so, beware the downwardly mobile Ph.D.... more »


New Books

Harry Houdini could escape from seemingly impossible situations. But he couldn't escape his roots   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Henri Breuil, “the Pope of Prehistory,” did more than anyone else to prove that our early ancestors were capable of symbolic thought... more »


Jan. 4, 2021

Articles of Note

In the rush to turn Frida Kahlo into a symbol, we've lost her significance as an artist, not merely a martyr  ... more »


New Books

Cary Grant's greatest role was Cary Grant, a persona of elegance, charisma, and charm  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"To find humor in death isn’t to degrade or deny the sanctity of human life, but rather to grapple with its finite nature"  ... more »


Jan. 2, 2021

Articles of Note

Charm, patience, and a big budget for cognac and cigars: how John le Carré got sources to tell him everything  ... more »


New Books

Was Louis Kahn a true sage, or just a bushwa artist talented at conning the eggheads at Yale and Penn?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"If one were interested in the sexual life of the professoriate at the turn of the last century, it would be strange to omit Veblen" ... more »


Jan. 1, 2021

Articles of Note

Marxism and religion. The Frankfurt School theorists understood that democracy requires a dialogue between theology and reason... more »


New Books

The creative class flourished for decades in the middle of the 20th century, then was crushed. Can it be rebuilt?... more »


Essays & Opinions

The artist who most acutely registers the deranged quality of contemporary American public life? Peter Saul... more »


Dec. 31, 2020

Articles of Note

“They call me a psychologist; this is not true,” Dostoevsky wrote. “I am merely a realist in the higher sense”   ... more »


New Books

Knausgaard returns, with a collection of earnest, tedious, minor essays. Is excessive literary production a social offense?   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Over the past 70 years, popular culture has gone from realism to fantasy and science fiction. Blame, in part, Ray Bradbury... more »


Dec. 30, 2020

Articles of Note

Trotsky’s sidekick. Jean van Heijenoort was his secretary and bodyguard for seven years, and then built another life ... more »


New Books

Molded in the mythos of meritocracy, millennials have now become the burnout generation... more »


Essays & Opinions

"Historians will record that in the early decades of the 21st century we became an unforgiving society, a society of furies, a society in search of guilt and shame"... more »


Dec. 29, 2020

Articles of Note

Is our sedentary lifestyle slowly killing us? Is sitting the new smoking? "Let’s relax. The chair is not the enemy"  ... more »


New Books

"I am a Christian," insisted Thomas Jefferson. But he had no patience for metaphysical claims. So he went about reinventing Jesus... more »


Essays & Opinions

More than a few writers have been drunks. Is their drinking part of a negotiation with their own impossibly high standards? ... more »


Dec. 28, 2020

Articles of Note

Being Roger Penrose. At the heart of the Nobel-winning physicist's work are his artistry and his ideas about beauty... more »


New Books

The survival of a moderate conservatism may have become inextricable from the survival of liberal democracy itself  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Graham Greene, steeped as he was in bleak moral choices, was delighted that French attempts to pronounce his name sounded like “Grim Grin” ... more »


Dec. 26, 2020

Articles of Note

Prisons are everywhere in the work of Charles Dickens, who knew the costs of confinement and the ubiquity of sequestered lives   ... more »


New Books

"Demons are more than crazed hypotheses or ungrounded thought experiments; they are quietly central to our very understanding of the world"   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Every year, David Brooks compiles a list of the best long-form essays of the year. Here are his 2020 Sidney Awards... more »


Dec. 25, 2020

Articles of Note

Fifty years ago, John Rawls published A Theory of Justice. Is it still possible to reason together about the common good? ... more »


New Books

A.J. Ayer quipped that the problem with logical positivism was that “nearly all of it was false.” But it was "true in spirit" ... more »


Essays & Opinions

What was so different about Beethoven? The novelty of his rhythms, which turned into plot, into argument, into speech ... more »


Dec. 24, 2020

Articles of Note

Does instant communication mean the death of the literary letter? It depends on how you define a letter  ... more »


New Books

Harold Bloom viewed literature as a contest, measuring writers against a yardstick of purportedly timeless values  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

America, writes David Blight, is polarized in a cold civil war. The core questions of the original Civil War and Reconstruction era remain unanswered ... more »


Dec. 23, 2020

Articles of Note

To understand why science is so widely distrusted, we must see how that attitude has arisen  ... more »


New Books

Merpeople: For Linnaeus, they were next to seals and manatees, for Darwin, they explained a missing link. Now they’re being connected to queer identity  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

“Rather than shoving all our debates into a single, hellish town square, let each town have its own” ... more »


Dec. 22, 2020

Articles of Note

For Leonora Carrington, humanity was a seductive costume donned by dummies. Abandoning the costume courted madness but also brought liberation... more »


New Books

Fredrik deBoer and Michael Sandel say meritocracy is a bad idea, but really their beef is with the imperfect implementation of the system... more »


Essays & Opinions

A failed philosophical mission: Plato urged Dionysius I to abandon wine and orgies. In response, the tyrant sold Plato into slavery... more »


Dec. 21, 2020

Articles of Note

Liberalism, a never-ending quest to find the best way for diverse people to live together, is in decline. We need a better liberalism... more »


New Books

Heinrich Heine was an idealistic devotee of German culture. That didn't blind him to what made it so dangerous  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Scientists' mistakes are regrettable but usually not sinister. Science remains the gold standard of truth. And it needs defending ... more »


Dec. 19, 2020

Articles of Note

How to start an independent publishing house in 2020? Recruit billionaire backers, make podcast and film-rights agreements, figure out distribution... more »


New Books

The best of 20th-century philosophy urges us to be fearless, critical, and creative, and to avoid orthodoxies, ideologies, and obscurantist nonsense... more »


Essays & Opinions

E.P. Thompson’s rise was a paradoxical intellectual event: “history from below” promised social uplift, yet ignored colonial realities... more »


Dec. 18, 2020

Articles of Note

In the aggregate, high expectations for the future have made the world a better place. Individually, however, it's made us miserable... more »


New Books

Isabel Wilkerson’s study of caste illuminates much about India. But in an American context, it merely obfuscates ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The banality of empathy. Empathizing with fictional characters is too often seen as an ethical good. It’s not   ... more »


Dec. 17, 2020

Articles of Note

Beethoven and freedom. "We may judge what is merely beautiful, but sublime art judges us, or better said, it challenges us to judge ourselves”  ... more »


New Books

Of the many misrepresentations about Adorno, the most persistent is that he had little aptitude for practical politics. Nonsense ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Why have restaurant reviews become smackdowns? Our appetite for blood sport distorts how critics write and think about food ... more »


Dec. 16, 2020

Articles of Note

To say that John le Carré invented the modern spy novel doesn’t do justice to his achievement. His fictional world blurred into reality... more »


New Books

For Twain and Woolf, little was as tedious as discussing the weather. And yet such conversation continues — implacably, abysmally... more »


Essays & Opinions

William Gaddis was cynical about America, wishing it were more like Costa Rica. But he never lost hope entirely... more »


Dec. 15, 2020

Articles of Note

Book thieves come in two varieties: the rogue custodians, who exploit their access to literary treasures, and the academics  ... more »


New Books

A spate of books peddles philosophers, from Socrates to William James, as gurus of the good life. Try Spinoza... more »


Essays & Opinions

Eating with Italian futurists: oranges should be balanced on one’s head, meat eating should be synchronized with trumpet blasts, pasta should be avoided ... more »