Aug. 1, 2017 | Music as mental exercise. The pianist Mal Waldron did more than gig with Billie Holiday, Allen Ginsberg, and Lenny Bruce. He cultivated an analytical style... more »


July 31, 2017 | Paul Fussell radiated curmudgeonly intelligence about Orwell, nude beaches, the Indianapolis 500, and his great topic: class in America... more »


July 29, 2017 | A book can change the world. Can a book review? In 1967, Norman Mailer reviewed a memoir by his friend Norman Podhoretz. American politics has never quite been the same... more »


July 28, 2017 | Richard Rorty thought of himself as an American philosopher. American philosophers saw him as a European intellectual, and his philosophy as a betrayal. It wasn't... more »


July 27, 2017 | Disturbed by the state of the world, W.S. Merwin turned to environmentalism. He cultivated a garden composted with manuscripts that other poets had sent him... more »


July 26, 2017 | The tradition of Kant, Hegel, and Habermas has given way to slick performers. Is German philosophy exchanging profundity for popularity?... more »


July 25, 2017 | After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern humiliated Tom Stoppard, the play took off. Asked what it was really about, he said, “It’s about to make me very rich”... more »


July 24, 2017 | Le Monde diplo v. Bernard-Henri Lévy. The monthly releases a "dossier" portraying him as a mafia-type oligarch. BHL responds... more »


July 22, 2017 | Leonardo and Michelangelo were driven and difficult, which is central to their modern appeal. The less mercurial Raphael is more admired than loved... more »


July 21, 2017 | A new history of the right is red meat for the left. Critics have tried to dismantle the book, footnote by footnote. Has anyone actually read it?... more »


July 20, 2017 | Gene editing threatens to homogenize society, says Atul Gawande. Aberrant yet valuable characteristics are under threat. Think of George Church's narcolepsy... more »


July 19, 2017 | Rather than “Which side are you on?,” Samuel Huntington wrote, the question in the post-Cold War world would be “Who are you?” What a prescient insight... more »


July 18, 2017 | Darwin and women. Publicly dismissive of the female intellect, in private he was completely dependent on it... more »


July 17, 2017 | Among most economists, globalization has been seen as both inevitable and salutary. Now the cracks in that consensus have split wide open... more »


July 15, 2017 | Questions of policy and of social science run on different tracks. Mixing them gets complicated. Consider Brown v. Board of Education... more »


July 14, 2017 | Information existed before Claude Shannon, but there was little sense of it as an idea, an object of hard science. His insight made our world possible... more »


July 13, 2017 | 20th-century American conservatism was a combination of inherited reflexes and political opportunism that never made any sense. Now it's come undone... more »


July 12, 2017 | Digital text alone is impoverished and, on occasion, emotionally arid. It lacks the nonverbal cues — body language — of spoken communication. That's why we need emoji... more »


July 11, 2017 | Philip Larkin's things include a Hitler figurine, empty spines of the diaries that he wished shredded after his death, and ample evidence of his own self-loathing... more »


July 10, 2017 | At 23, Charlotte Brontë became a governess. The experience would inform her later fiction: What better way to learn subordination, exploitation, and humiliation?... more »


July 8, 2017 | The history of the closet. It made itself useful in 15th-century Italy, where studioli housed secret poems and experimental philosophy... more »


July 7, 2017 | Félix Nadar's guestbook reveals what preoccupied the cultural elite of the Second Empire: morality, boredom, politics, inside jokes, and above all else, artistic ego... more »


July 6, 2017 | Isaiah Berlin called Toscanini “the most morally dignified and inspiring hero of our time.” Now he’s seen as the false messiah of middlebrow music appreciation. What gives?... more »


July 5, 2017 | The glory of the Hollywood memoir. Idiosyncratic, biased, boastful, unctuous, and vain, it nevertheless gives us a revealing glimpse into the past... more »


July 4, 2017 | Hemingway vs. Eastman. The literary “battle of the ages” involved evaluations of chest hair, a blow to the face (with a book, of course), slaps, and wrestling moves... more »


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