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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. 27, 2020

Articles of Note

Every writer is unique in some way; D.H. Lawrence was unique in most ways: in his prose style, in his personality, and in his opinions. George Scialabba explains ... more »


New Books

A new biography of Lucian Freud withholds gossip into “private affairs.” That’s a shame — Freud’s private affairs propelled his art   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Does history really “have its eyes on us,” as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s George Washington says? Where did this idea come from, anyway?   ... more »


Oct. 26, 2020

Articles of Note

Books bound in human skin have a long history, though one less sensational and more ambiguous than the urban legends  ... more »


New Books

Intellectual detours are key to learning, and the ability to take them is a skill to nurture  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Hannah Arendt is the most used and abused philosophical source to interpret American politics. Sam Moyn explains  ... more »


Oct. 24, 2020

Articles of Note

Many colleges are fighting for survival. Is it even reasonable to expect the humanities to survive?  ... more »


New Books

Jew, poet, homosexual, painter, punster, novelist, critic, palm-reader, ether-addict, Kabbalist, Catholic: Who was Max Jacob?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"The mob is drunk on the new power that surveillance provides them, seemingly unaware of the many ways it could come back to bite them next" ... more »


Oct. 23, 2020

Articles of Note

“It’s not a love affair or a marriage; it’s a job," says the biographer Hermione Lee, who is taking on her first living subject... more »


New Books

Dickens is infinitely greater than his critics,” John Carey wrote. But not necessarily wiser... more »


Essays & Opinions

Political poems were “excruciating”; the “so-called arts of the left” were insincere — for George and Mary Oppen, politics and the arts did not mix   ... more »


Oct. 22, 2020

Articles of Note

Academia, a theater of “grinding competition and relentless banality,” is no longer a place to live the contemplative life... more »


New Books

The maddening Martin Amis. He denounces authors’ asides into dreams, sex, and religion… and then commits those very novelistic sins  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Ruthlessly self-absorbed, obsessed with power, a sexual predator — Simone de Beauvoir was not a good person. But at least she stood for something  ... more »


Oct. 21, 2020

Articles of Note

What defines the literature of the far right? Pseudo-academic pretensions, worship of the male physique, and a fixation on technological determinism  ... more »


New Books

The voice of The Atlantic is authoritative, high-minded, empirical — and, once you’ve heard it enough, utterly tedious ... more »


Essays & Opinions

What makes Chekhov unique? His perception, his ability to discern the subtlest emotional shades of human experience. Gary Saul Morson explains ... more »


Oct. 20, 2020

Articles of Note

An American Bacchus. James Beard was 310 pounds of blazing appetite — “for money, for applause, for butter, for more butter”  ... more »


New Books

The history of knowledge and its enemies was best summed up by Heinrich Heine: “Wherever they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn human beings” ... more »


Essays & Opinions

"A grabby talky disorderly inferno of the spirit." William Gaddis's J R was almost comically ahead of its time  ... more »


Oct. 19, 2020

Articles of Note

We all experience loneliness, but we experience it differently. For Hannah Arendt, it was the essence of totalitarianism... more »


New Books

Alexis de Tocqueville mastered many styles. He could be romantic, clever, or ruthlessly withering... more »


Essays & Opinions

What do we mean when we say a piece of art is "relevant"? The characterization says less about the work than about the audience... more »


Oct. 17, 2020

Articles of Note

The miracle of Jonathan Edwards. He was born into an austere society, far from centers of learning, and yet become an Aquinas of Protestants  ... more »


New Books

His legacy may be oppressive factory work, but in 1914 Henry Ford also gave America the $5 work day: “Social justice begins at home,” the company said  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The talents of the painter and poet Max Jacob were legion. Their fullest expression may have come in an overcrowded prison cell for Jews in Orléans in 1944  ... more »


Oct. 15, 2020

Articles of Note

The 1619 Project does not argue that 1619 is America’s true founding. Or maybe it does. The debate roils the New York Times and beyond  ... more »


New Books

The decade between World War I and the Great Depression featured intense intellectual creativity. Was this German philosophy's last great moment? ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The meaning of a mustache. For Wesley Morris, it’s a way to connect to Blackness, and to a legacy of improving America ... more »


Oct. 14, 2020

Articles of Note

Stanley Crouch was an intellectual in an old-fashioned sense: someone who understands systematic ideologies but does not have one ... more »


New Books

It's always been hard to make a living as an artist. But has the aspiration essentially become obsolete?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

A bookstore is a place of reverie, digression, discovery. As efficiency-accustomed customers have discovered, it is not Amazon Prime... more »


Oct. 13, 2020

Articles of Note

Amid the volatile political scene of 1920s Austria, a group of thinkers — the Vienna Circle — set the agenda for postwar philosophy  ... more »


New Books

The 2020 intellectual situation: The politics of consumerism, and of grievance, have overwhelmed the politics of unity and responsibility  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Some poets harvest a narrow field. Robert Conquest had an appetite — and a satirical bite — for the world and all it contains ... more »


Oct. 12, 2020

Articles of Note

You can say a lot of unkind things about Germaine Greer. But no one can confirm that she doesn't know how to enjoy herself  ... more »


New Books

"If you are reading this, you are very probably WEIRD," says Daniel Dennett. “But we are outliers on many psychological measures"  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Stanley Kubrick demonstrated a contradiction: He was a rebel who succeeded, yet his films are about rebels who fail  ... more »


Oct. 10, 2020

Articles of Note

The Consolation of Philosophy, a best seller for centuries, has fallen out of favor. Uet we sorely need its lessons in epistemic humility... more »


New Books

John Steinbeck did not take feedback well. He scorned the Pulitzer and the Nobel. And criticism sent him into a rage... more »


Essays & Opinions

For seven weeks in 1726, it was believed that a woman, Mary Toft, could give birth to rabbits. It was a gift to satirists, but torment for Toft... more »


Oct. 9, 2020

Articles of Note

What ruined D.H. Lawrence wasn’t second-wave feminism, but rather F.R. Leavis, who canonized the author’s blandest work ... more »


New Books

Portrait painters live to please, Dr. Johnson said, and must please to live. Goya was not like that ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Many of us still believe in UFOs, Bigfoot, and Sasquatch. Why? An improvisational millenarianism has taken root ... more »


Oct. 8, 2020

Articles of Note

For the biologist and French resistance fighter Jacques Monod, love of truth was exceeded only by hatred of lies... more »


New Books

Kafka, unfinished. To see the author as he was, turn to a new collection of his fragments... more »


Essays & Opinions

Liberalism’s discontents. Does it, as Catholic intellectuals contend, offer “thin gruel” in lieu of deeper moral commitments?... more »


Oct. 7, 2020

Articles of Note

What happened at HAU? The hip anthropology journal imploded amid threats, rumors, and infighting. Is the editor to blame?... more »


New Books

Richard Hofstadter has entered the pantheon as a status-quo-defending liberal. But what of his radical roots?... more »


Essays & Opinions

In a 50-year run at The New Yorker, Whitney Balliett produced more than 500 essays on jazz. They amount to a blueprint for arts criticism... more »


Oct. 6, 2020

Articles of Note

Caravaggio’s Baroque art exploded against the orderliness of the Renaissance, pulling viewers into “some cosmic soup of slow knowing"... more »


New Books

The knock on Derrida was that he was a peddler of gimmicks. He never shook the fear that those who saw him as a charlatan were right... more »


Essays & Opinions

In America, self-storage is a national psychopathology. Behind it lurks the dream of infinite space... more »


Oct. 5, 2020

Articles of Note

Faux Fitzgerald. We think of him as frivolous and unfailingly rhapsodic, but that obscures the bracing acidity of his satire ... more »


New Books

The 18th century brought an end to the age of the polymath. Specialization made it both more challenging and more important to seek holistic knowledge  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Luc Sante on reality TV: “It’s like the stuff I’m interested in, but with all the poetry taken out and all the money put in”  ... more »


Oct. 3, 2020

Articles of Note

For a while in the 1870s, Cézanne and Pissarro worked together. Their union is a mystery that holds key to understanding French painting  ... more »


New Books

Is there such a thing as "the Viking Mind," a shared sensibility and worldview that emanated from medieval Scandinavia?  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

To understand seduction, we must consider both Pamela and the modern pickup artist. So claims a new book, dubiously  ... more »


Oct. 2, 2020

Articles of Note

Meritocracy is an attractive, even inspiring ideal, but it has a dark side: It generates hubris among the winners and humiliation among the losers”   ... more »


New Books

For John Steinbeck, individuals revealed little of humanity. Our true nature could only be grasped in the plural — by groups and phalanxes   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

As Homer shows, truth can be revealed in concentric circles radiating out from the plot. As Sebald shows, such narrative rings can also bamboozle   ... more »


Oct. 1, 2020

Articles of Note

Troy Young got Hearst magazines to abandon elegance and glamour for clickbait riches. It worked — and then it all fell apart... more »


New Books

Is there a better parodist and pasticheur alive than Tom Stoppard? But is he an artistic parasite? Hardly... more »


Essays & Opinions

Universities have long played host to eccentric ideas. But a tolerance for debate has survived. Is that now in doubt?   ... more »


Sept. 30, 2020

Articles of Note

What is “creative destruction”? In Silicon Valley, it’s the intellectual bedrock. Elsewhere, it’s nonsense  ... more »


New Books

What was it about Nazi ideology, at least early on, that appealed to Germans? Its vagueness. People saw what they wanted to see... more »


Essays & Opinions

Surrounded by revolutionary fervor in China, Eileen Chang chronicled smaller revolutions, in romance and lust. She would have been 100 today ... more »


Sept. 29, 2020

Articles of Note

What's behind Agatha Christie’s enduring appeal? Her ability to change with the times, for one thing  ... more »


New Books

The monstrosity at the heart of modern science. To get to the top requires “a degree of single-mindedness that is quite inhuman”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop exported a literature of individualism and domesticity, not of solidarity and big ideas. Creative writing is still recovering  ... more »


Sept. 28, 2020

Articles of Note

Stanley Crouch’s position in the jazz world was formidable. Whether or not you agreed with his criticism, you had to deal with him  ... more »


New Books

Will Self is known for both his gloom and his antic joviality. His memoir reveals a life spent skirting every commitment — except to inebriation ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Beethoven, political leftist? The melodies have been dulled through overuse, their subversiveness no longer audible  ... more »


Sept. 26, 2020

Articles of Note

Lettering was everywhere in Medieval Western Europe, but only about one in 10 could read. As a result, words were considered holy... more »


New Books

What is a Shakespearean sensibility? Via musicality, rhythm, grandeur, "we seem to hear words pushing restlessly through the soil of thinking."   ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Are we living in a historical inflection point — the exact moment at which the most consequential human decisions are being made? Probably not   ... more »


Sept. 25, 2020

Articles of Note

"If the only way to get anything done at a university is to raise money from a corporation, we’re not going to know what we need to know about the world and the human condition," says Jill Lepore.  ... more »


New Books

Though their work is rooted in the visual, most art historians are readers rather than lookers. Leo Steinberg was different  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Editing RBG. She was precise and unyielding. At the book party, she wore black-lace gloves. Scalia worked the door  ... more »


Sept. 24, 2020

Articles of Note

History and its futilities. Orlando Patterson brought social science to bear on postcolonial Jamaica. Now he chronicles the failures of such efforts ... more »


New Books

Streaming music is more efficient than CDs, right? Wrong. “The environmental cost of music is now greater than at any time”  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

Camus didn't do inspiration. And hope, he believed, is for suckers. But that doesn't mean he condoned despair ... more »


Sept. 23, 2020

Articles of Note

G.E. Moore, who championed common sense, was an influential philosopher. But a great one? Probably not  ... more »


New Books

Walter Gropius achieved fame by passing off Lucia Moholy’s work as his own. Meanwhile, she lived in poverty  ... more »


Essays & Opinions

The “encrappification” of America. From the Veg-O-Matic to Beanie Babies, the nation has a long, wasteful history of loving cheap stuff  ... more »


Sept. 22, 2020

Articles of Note

If Christopher Hitchens were still around, what would he make of the world today? Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie discuss   ... more »