March 22, 2018 | The mysterious Cormac McCarthy. He’s intensely private about interviews and public appearances. But why, at 83, has he ventured into nonfiction?... more »


March 21, 2018 | Profanity was long considered low and dirty, the opposite of the sublime. Then came Philip Larkin, Eileen Myles, and the rise of poetic profanity... more »


March 20, 2018 | In the room where Mailer and Talese and Capote got drunk, about a dozen people — mostly women — vie to become the next editor of The Paris Review ... more »


March 19, 2018 | Ivan Ilyin, an apologist for political violence, wrote 40 books. His aim was to advance a moral justification for totalitarianism. It's working... more »


March 17, 2018 | The lofty verb "curate" has been adopted eagerly, even anxiously, in a vain attempt to sprinkle fairy dust over something quite ordinary... more »


March 16, 2018 | If only he’d been a lawyer. Samuel Johnson was too poor to afford legal studies — instead he did hack writing and signed a letter “Impransus”— the supperless one... more »


March 15, 2018 | Alain Locke, dean of the Harlem Renaissance, believed in the “ethics of beauty itself.” But the creation of art, he knew, has political consequences... more »


March 14, 2018 | Leo Stein was dogmatic, pompous, even a bit deranged, and essential. The professional dilettante's backing came at a crucial time for modernism... more »


March 13, 2018 | Quotable Einstein. He's remembered for musing on education, intelligence, politics, religion, marriage, money, and music-making. How much of it is apocryphal?... more »


March 12, 2018 | Skepticism toward intellectual authority runs deep in America. It's a healthy instinct, until it's not. Tom Nichols is worried about the death of expertise... more »


March 10, 2018 | He arrived in America in 1774, broke and sick. Two years later, he was at the heart of the revolutionary movement. Thomas Paine has quite a story... more »


March 9, 2018 | In praise of profanity. Swearing helps us manages stress and build trust. In fact, with proper tone and timing, it’s an art... more »


March 8, 2018 | Norman Mailer's library: On the shelf: Dostoyevsky, Proust, Graham Greene, and two sets of the Warren Commission Report. In the bathroom: poetry anthologies... more »


March 7, 2018 | The mind’s struggle over the body has become a kind of mortal combat. “Have a good workout” is no longer sufficient. You must “crush your workout”... more »


March 6, 2018 | Norman Podhoretz's Making It was the object of ridicule even before it was published. But Janet Malcolm detects a discreet charm in this tale of ambition... more »


March 5, 2018 | The economist Amartya Sen was early to see the folly of acting as if we can separate our moral lives from our material concerns. It's made him our greatest living critic of capitalism... more »


March 3, 2018 | "I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out," says James Wood. He’s "not slaying people anymore"... more »


March 2, 2018 | Welcome to Roswell, New Mexico, the convergence of America's weakness for the strange, penchant for conspiratorial thinking, and knack for turning a buck... more »


March 1, 2018 | From her harsh theater reviews to her novel My Ántonia, Willa Cather demonstrated an intensity of observation. Jane Smiley explains... more »


Feb. 28, 2018 | In 1905 the poet George Sterling established an artists' colony at Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. Then things got dark: murders and suicide pacts... more »


Feb. 27, 2018 | At Cornell's legendary Food and Brand Lab, research is conducted in an unusual way: Collect data first, form hypotheses later. “This is not science, it is storytelling"... more »


Feb. 26, 2018 | Debussy’s idiotic ballet about a tennis match remained an avant-garde favorite 40 years later. In music, revolutionary styles and popularity are wedded... more »


Feb. 24, 2018 | By the time a new dictionary is complete, it’s out of date. Still, the quest to capture the meaning of everything remains a noble one... more »


Feb. 23, 2018 | The dean of the Harlem Renaissance was not Langston Hughes or Zora Neale Hurston, but the editor and impresario Alain Locke. Such obscurity is undeserved... more »


Feb. 22, 2018 | Edward Abbey was a bus driver, park ranger, anarchist, and philosopher of the desert. He sought solitude but secretly craved the approval of the New York literati... more »


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