Aug. 25, 2016 | True crimes of a Roman emperor. Was Nero a matricidal villain or the victim of a propaganda campaign? The answer may lie in art... more »


Aug. 24, 2016 | The battle between gravity and human anatomy goes on. Attempts to settle it — the stools of ancient Egypt, the chaise longue — reveal much about culture... more »


Aug. 23, 2016 | Can art help find “the real you”? Identity is under more scrutiny than ever. Cue questions of pretension, authenticity,
coolness... more »


Aug. 22, 2016 | A mood, a tint, a taint, danger, virility, possibility, royalty, beauty: parsing the many meanings of blue, that most popular of colors ... more »


Aug. 20, 2016 | An ellipsis indicates an absence, making it the language’s most unusual punctuation mark. Where did it come from, and how did it get so weird?... more »


Aug. 19, 2016 | Is there perfection in art? Sam Anderson conducts an aesthetic investigation in Florence, home of Michelangelo’s “David" and Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot... more »


Aug. 18, 2016 | You might think that the past seven decades of scientific accomplishment are the result of researchers' following their curiosity. You would be wrong... more »


Aug. 17, 2016 | We live in a golden age of profanity. But the vocabulary is small, and we're diminishing it from overuse. Time to invent new obscenities... more »


Aug. 16, 2016 | Female thinkers have rarely been cinematic subjects. But recent films about Hannah Arendt have raised the question: How should a woman in philosophy be portrayed?... more »


Aug. 15, 2016 | Pierre Bayle was renowned as an advocate of intellectual modesty and the questioning of authority. Now he's a forgotten hero of the Enlightenment... more »


Aug. 13, 2016 | Lolita is romantic and funny and perverted, but Pale Fire is the great gay comic novel — a catalogue of homosexual desire through the ages... more »


Aug. 12, 2016 | In 2013, linguists discovered a previously unknown language. Three years later, it's on the brink of extinction. Every conversation may be the last... more »


Aug. 11, 2016 | Propaganda art is crude, primitive, and inferior to real art. Except, of course, when it isn’t. Consider the career of Jacques-Louis David... more »


Aug. 10, 2016 | Scott Joplin was obsessed with fashioning ragtime as high art. He failed, and his life lingers only in factoids, fragments, snapshots, and grainy recordings... more »


Aug. 9, 2016 | For four years, William Styron pushed his No. 2 pencil across the page, writing The Confessions of Nat Turner. He'd “unwittingly created one of the first politically incorrect texts of our time”... more »


Aug. 8, 2016 | Did the Inquisition judge Galileo on the basis of theology, or did it rely on the scientific standards of the day? The answer depends on a peculiar piece of punctuation ... more »


Aug. 6, 2016 | Nabokov suffered from adenoma, heart palpitations, neuralgia, lumbago, pleurisy, and psoriasis. Did epilepsy cause his hallucinations?... more »


Aug. 5, 2016 | Mikita Brottman started a reading group at a men's jail because she believed in the power of literature to transform lives. Now she's not so sure... more »


Aug. 4, 2016 | Faber in the 1960s. The atmosphere at T.S. Eliot's publishing house was much like the man himself--old, grand, and glowering. It's where Mary-Kay Wilmers got her start... more »


Aug. 3, 2016 | Two men and the city. James Joyce and Italo Svevo met in Trieste in 1907. One was an artistic prodigy and a drunk, the other was an abstemious businessman. Both were geniuses... more »


Aug. 2, 2016 | You think Jonathan Franzen is overrated and out of touch? He's OK with that. “I go to extraordinary lengths not to hear what people are saying about me”... more »


Aug. 1, 2016 | When it comes to writing, the world is divided between Pantsers and Planners. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants; planners plan. Everyone else believes there are no rules to writing... more »


July 30, 2016 | Proust was literature's greatest mama's boy. "She takes away my life with her," he wrote when she died. He filled the void with work on his novel... more »


July 29, 2016 | Used to be that America's foremost public intellectuals were theologians on the Christian left. Their ideas triumphed, but their type disappeared. All except Marilynne Robinson... more »


July 28, 2016 | Inexplicable, almost unthinkable acts of violence; audacious, nihilistic, adolescent self-righteousness: Looking for ISIS in a 1907 novel... more »


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