Nov. 6, 2017 | Can a pure and radical idealism be sustained without eventually curdling into despair or cynicism? The Center for Political Beauty, in Berlin, tests the limits of aggressive optimism... more »


Nov. 4, 2017 | We talk about books we haven’t read and books we’ve read but forgotten. Maybe one day we’ll discuss books that we’ve imagined... more »


Nov. 3, 2017 | The curious influence of Samuel Moyn. How did the deceptively boyish-looking historian at Yale became a role model to a generation of young political thinkers?... more »


Nov. 2, 2017 | Herman Melville’s son, Stanwix Melville, rode through cemeteries, experienced a shipwreck, and dealt with failing eyesight. He was dead at 34... more »


Nov. 1, 2017 | Theodore Dreiser tried just about everything to succeed, even working for a publishing house whose motto was “The worse the swill, the more the public will buy”... more »


Oct. 31, 2017 | Where does the human capacity for counting come from? Is our understanding of, say, “18” a biological endowment? Or is it a product of culture? ... more »


Oct. 30, 2017 | Reading books is an excellent thing to do, but there are any number of excellent things that someone, even a writer, might wish to do. Orwell did them.... more »


Oct. 28, 2017 | How to be good at literary parties: Stay away from rich people. Skip networking events. The best way to befriend famous people is to have no idea who they are... more »


Oct. 27, 2017 | Mark Twain had one goal: Make money. By the age of 50, he was rich. “I am frightened by the proportions of my prosperity,” he said, and he was right to be afraid... more »


Oct. 26, 2017 | Historical analogies are simplistic, misleading, and essential. We compare because it's necessary, even inevitable... more »


Oct. 25, 2017 | Kirkus, one of the country’s most prolific book reviews, has managed to misapprehend both the nature of reviewing and the nature of books... more »


Oct. 24, 2017 | Edgar Allan Poe was a savage but uncalculating critic. He spent years mocking “The Literati of New York City,” then attempted to work among them... more »


Oct. 23, 2017 | Under fire with Allied troops during World War II, Jean-Pierre Melville made an oath to himself: If he survived, he'd get back to Paris and build a film studio... more »


Oct. 21, 2017 | War is horrible. It's also alarmingly attractive. Philip Caputo had to reconcile those two reactions before he could write about his experience in Vietnam... more »


Oct. 20, 2017 | “O Niebuhr, Where Art Thou?” He died along with the literate public's interest in theology. Now Christian thought is in a long retreat. It doesn’t have to be that way... more »


Oct. 19, 2017 | Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a political writer. But to see life solely in political terms, he believed, is to misunderstand it. The meaning of life lies elsewhere... more »


Oct. 18, 2017 | A philosophy of being at home. Consider your domestic surroundings along with Gaston Bachelard, and you will have “unlocked a door to daydreaming”... more »


Oct. 17, 2017 | Dream King, Swan King, Kitsch King: Ludwig II, Europe's most elusive bachelor, died in 1886. He still qualifies as the world's greatest opera fan... more »


Oct. 16, 2017 | “The key to writing biography is the capacity to be empathetic,” says James Atlas, who failed in that regard when writing his book on Saul Bellow... more »


Oct. 14, 2017 | Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene are more readable than Henry Green. But Green is more rereadable — his opaque works reward our repeated attention... more »


Oct. 13, 2017 | When music wielded imperial might. The Chinese Music Bureau, founded around 120 BC, was led by someone whose primary career experience was training hunting dogs... more »


Oct. 12, 2017 | In its belief that what matters is information rather than insight, society has become what Wittgenstein feared. That could explain his unpopularity... more »


Oct. 11, 2017 | Orwell has become less flesh and blood than a set of moral positions. But deep in his letters and diaries and remembrances, one can glimpse the man... more »


Oct. 10, 2017 | Oxford's Very Short Introductions series taps into a very old human desire to know everything. Eight million copies have been sold to readers who yearn for mastery... more »


Oct. 9, 2017 | Some are excited, others scared. Some are cautious, others jubilant. Some are utopian, others pessimistic. Futurists: a taxonomy... more »


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