Oct. 21, 2015 | The president to Marilynne Robinson: “Why don’t I just have a conversation with somebody I really like and see how it turns out?”... more »


Oct. 20, 2015 | Reports of the death of classical music are hardly new. But demographics do prompt a question: Can it survive the death of its audience? ... more »


Oct. 19, 2015 | The trouble with travel writing. How to avoid mimicking its  macho, racist, colonial history? “You have to struggle”... more »


Oct. 17, 2015 | The tragedy of Oscar Wilde. Essential ingredients: theatricality, humor, bizarre innocence, self-belief, love, and betrayal... more »


Oct. 16, 2015 | One day in 1987, Patricia Highsmith, recently diagnosed with cancer, toured a crematorium. She put her hand inside a furnace, feeling "the warm of that retort"... more »


Oct. 15, 2015 | When it comes to making predictions, most experts are no more accurate than a dart-throwing chimp. But forecasting can indeed be taught... more »


Oct. 14, 2015 | Terrible Thoreau! Sanctimonious, egotistical, elitist, parochial, above all a hypocrite — why do we continue to respect his writing?... more »


Oct. 13, 2015 | Before he went mad and declared himself Lord Byron, John Clare composed poems about acorns and wildflowers. At least his environmental vision lives on... more »


Oct. 12, 2015 | Ivan Maisky became Soviet ambassador to London in 1932. He stayed for 11 years. His diary — dishy, insightful — rewrites the era... more »


Oct. 10, 2015 | In 1962, Tom Wolfe was a young, out-of-work journalist. Eighteen months later, he was famous. He knew what the public wanted: eccentricity... more »


Oct. 9, 2015 | Constable vs. Turner; Newton vs. Leibniz; Edison vs. Tesla. Does having an intellectual rival spur creativity? History suggests so... more »


Oct. 8, 2015 | George Scialabba, an introvert at work in a windowless basement at Harvard, is a critic's critic: Not widely known, but widely admired... more »


Oct. 7, 2015 | The tyranny of experts. How a superrich coterie in Washington State holds sway over the fate of the hungry and the powerless... more »


Oct. 6, 2015 | When memory disappears. Life with dementia — misery, anger, sadness, dark comedy — is an awkward teeter between despair and hope ... more »


Oct. 5, 2015 | Paul Theroux visited Patagonia and the Congo and Sikkim before reaching the American South — where he indulged in every possible cliché... more »


Oct. 3, 2015 | Ancient Romans, they're just like us: ill-fated military escapades, social-welfare policies, urban living, corruption. The similarities, however, are misleading... more »


Oct. 2, 2015 | John Updike was most openly himself as a poet. Thus his focus on the erotic and on bodily functions: “Fellatio,” "Mouse Sex," “The Beautiful Bowel Movement”... more »


Oct. 1, 2015 | Marxism Today — feisty, fractious, produced on a shoestring — published its last issue in 1991. It's never been more relevant ... more »


Sept. 30, 2015 | Invented in 1874, barbed wire has proved resilient both functionally and symbolically. Robert Zaretsky uncoils its tragic history... more »


Sept. 29, 2015 | Banned Books Week, an annual campaign against censorship in America, is well-intentioned, in the right, and completely irrelevant ... more »


Sept. 28, 2015 | Consider the blurb. What began with a note from Emerson to Whitman has become pervasive — even though there's little evidence that blurbs sell any books... more »


Sept. 26, 2015 | “No more portraits," John Berger demanded in 1967 — the genre stood for social status and celebrity. Now the critic has pulled an about-face... more »


Sept. 25, 2015 | Ivan Maisky — intelligent, spirited, polyglot — was Stalin's ambassador to London in the 1930s. His diary, while unreliable, is a revelation... more »


Sept. 24, 2015 | Flaubert, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir: French intellectual culture was once the envy of the world. Now it’s mired in malaise... more »


Sept. 23, 2015 | While heroes inspire admiration, do-gooders tend to provoke unease, as if there is something perverse about all that virtue... more »


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