July 18, 2016 | Victorian spiritualism was not just a fixation on death. Its history includes Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, P.T. Barnum, and the telegraph... more »


July 16, 2016 | The agonies of H.T. Tsiang: literary rejection, an imagined feud with Pearl S. Buck, a deportation order. His life was stranger than his fiction... more »


July 15, 2016 | In his youth, Voltaire, spendthrift and gambler, met writers who were "penniless and held in contempt.” He would avoid that fate. So he gamed the lottery... more »


July 14, 2016 | Helen DeWitt went to Oxford to study Euripides and discovered she’d rather be Euripides. Now she rages against the publishing industry: “Plato did not have an editor”... more »


July 13, 2016 | Sleep was once about the spiritual, the Greek gods, the Sandman. Now it’s about physiology, medicalization, insomnia. Philosophical consequences abound... more »


July 12, 2016 | Catullus’ corpus of 116 poems teems with rage and obscenity. He was Rome’s most erotic poet, but we know almost nothing of him. Cue the dark arts of speculative historical reconstruction... more »


July 11, 2016 | 11 Picassos, six van Goghs, five Cézannes and a rare pair of Monets. That's what's at stake in a family art feud. “It’s Agatha Christie meets Homer”... more »


July 9, 2016 | The plight of the precursor. It's better than not being remembered at all, but the word damns with faint praise. Consider Theodore Rousseau, precursor to Monet and Cezanne ... more »


July 8, 2016 | Schooled in both Aquinas and Marx, Terry Eagleton remains the best advertisement for articulate argument and trenchant literary judgment... more »


July 7, 2016 | Authors and editors. The relationship is symbiotic, fruitful, and fraught. The possibilities for bruised feelings are, of course, endless... more »


July 6, 2016 | What was it like to be edited by William Shawn? I'm appending “a few questions,” he told a writer of a New Yorker profile. There were 178... more »


July 5, 2016 | Igor Stravinsky thought standard arrangements of the "Star-Spangled Banner" were amateurish. In 1941 he wrote a new version. Then the police intervened... more »


July 4, 2016 | The Nabokovs were "Zelig-like figures of twentieth-century catastrophe." They were wanderers, by necessity and maybe inclination. Memory was what rooted them ... more »


July 2, 2016 | The average English film subtitle is a bar of thin sans-serif text of around 40 characters. A model of economy, it's an art form worthy of critical scrutiny... more »


July 1, 2016 | Edna O'Brien has written often about love and beauty. In her new novel - maybe her last - she turns her attention toward evil ... more »


June 30, 2016 | Anxieties about democracy — the electorate is an ignorant and fickle mob — are as old as democracy itself. Mary Beard on the problem with people power... more »


June 29, 2016 | Picasso created more than 13,000 paintings and drawings. Defoe wrote 500 published works. When it comes to creativity, how much is too much?... more »


June 28, 2016 | Twelve years after Buchenwald, Elie Wiesel went to Disneyland. “The person who created this land, this universe, must be a genius, a rare genius”... more »


June 27, 2016 | Goethe had an uneasy relationship with money, yet he anticipated the economics of the mid-20th century. Where markets are concerned, he realized, information is power... more »


June 25, 2016 | Karl von Frisch, Jewish researcher of bees, was spared by the Nazis when a bee disease struck. He was known as “the neutral scholar.” But was he?... more »


June 24, 2016 | Cynthia Ozick used to think it was wrong to live only for literature, to approach it with idolatry. “At this point, I don’t think it’s wrong”... more »


June 23, 2016 | Onanism and its discontents. Condemnation has given way to acceptance. But talk of self-pleasure is still likely to produce giggles... more »


June 22, 2016 | The triumph of Judith Butler. Today teenagers throw around terms like “heteronormativity” and “performative.” At 60, she’s still fighting for the right not to be called a "lady"... more »


June 21, 2016 | For several weeks, Luke Mogelson visited a bridge every day hoping to find a murder victim. The moral queasiness of on-the-ground reportage... more »


June 20, 2016 | Thirty-six percent of internet content is pornography. One in four internet searches is about porn. Cause for concern? Probably not... more »


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