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Feb. 24, 2018 | By the time a new dictionary is complete, it’s out of date.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 »


Feb. 21, 2018 | Animal-voiced poems tend to be quirky and quaint, like T.S. Eliot’s on cats. Enter Don Marquis, a fatalistic newspaperman who wrote cockroach-based poetry... more »


Feb. 20, 2018 | The anti-Habermas. Peter Sloterdijk made his career sparring with the Frankfurt School and predicting the demise of liberal democracy. The times have caught up to him... more »


Feb. 19, 2018 | Picasso’s erotic year. In 1932 the artist, 50, had a torrid affair with his 22-year-old model. Even his banal subjects — a fruit platter, a shadow — turned phallic... more »


Feb. 17, 2018 | The comprehensive John Stuart Mill. He was out to combine Bentham with poetry, the Enlightenment with Romanticism, and to span the entire philosophy of his time... more »


Feb. 16, 2018 | A robot Rembrandt? Artificial intelligence cannot yet make fine art. When it can, the results will be both painfully boring and beyond our wildest imagination... more »


Feb. 15, 2018 | In praise of bibliomancy. The idea that literature could predict the future captivated 17th-century royals. Today it reminds us that books possess a rare magic... more »


Feb. 14, 2018 | Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon: he was poor, uneducated, and smitten; she was rich, pious, and uninterested. On their first date, they went to a Dickens reading... more »


Feb. 13, 2018 | The case of the libelous letters. In 1920s Britain, a neighborhood dispute engrossed the nation. Why? The written word was a new and exhilarating weapon... more »


Feb. 12, 2018 | In search of a sacred combe, a place of retreat and artistic genesis. It's not a real place, except when it is. Thoreau found Walden Pond; Yeats found the Isle of Innisfree... more »


Feb. 10, 2018 | To say freedom of conscience had a difficult birth would understate the matter, writes Marilynne Robinson. So she's surprised to find it disappearing before her eyes... more »


Feb. 9, 2018 | How Shakespeare wrote. He leaned heavily on George North, a minor figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth. The clue: “trundle-tail”... more »


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