April 25, 2018 | John Gray has been called a misanthrope and a nihilist. But he doesn't believe that social improvements are impossible — only that they're reversible... more »


April 24, 2018 | A more truthful representation of reality. The Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg separated storytelling from the self. Contemporary literature is only now catching up... more »


April 23, 2018 | There's no business like the da Vinci business. It's a happy hunting ground for eccentrics and conspiracy theorists. And for a half-century, Martin Kemp has lived among them... more »


April 21, 2018 | Algorithms and the end of taste. Taste is a moral capacity, an ability to recognize truth and beauty. It was once a human quality. Now it's a digital product... more »


April 20, 2018 | “Hollywood is corrupting the language,” sniffed the Telegraph. But British culture doesn't need saving from the Americans. English is thriving, and all the better for its new imports... more »


April 19, 2018 | Who can afford to write? Magazines haven’t raised their rates since the 1950s. Even New Yorker staff writers typically don’t get health insurance... more »


April 18, 2018 | She was in Paris with the Lost Generation, fled Europe in 1941 with Peggy Guggenheim, got arrested with Joan Baez. Kay Boyle went everywhere and saw everything... more »


April 17, 2018 | Neuroscience, social science, and history give us radically different ways of approaching empathy. But is empathy a moral force? Or a shibboleth?... more »


April 16, 2018 | We are all cyborgs. Our minds extend into the world and develop in response. That's the opinion of the philosopher Andy Clark, who sees this as an excellent thing. Is it?... more »


April 14, 2018 | Benjamin Franklin, “Dear Abby,” Dale Carnegie: America is unique in its hankering for advice on how to date, mourn, work, and raise children... more »


April 13, 2018 | The first dissertation on Jane Austen appeared in 1883. Ever since, the field has given rise to many Austens — moralist, humorist, ironist — and little consensus... more »


April 12, 2018 | Bill Buckley’s conservative irregulars. In its early days, the National Review’s staff included a former spokesman for Leon Trotsky, a nocturnal ex-Communist, and Russell Kirk... more »


April 11, 2018 | “I want his youth.” A deathly spirit, channeled at a séance, had it in for the literary prodigy Raymond Radiguet. He was rich, famous, fêted by the avant-garde, and doomed... more »


April 10, 2018 | Muriel Spark left Edinburgh when she was 18 but held fast to a belief she associated with the place: that contradictory ideas can have equal validity... more »


April 9, 2018 | The fate of handwriting. It was imperiled by the printing press, then the typewriter, the computer, and the phone. But is an elegy premature?... more »


April 7, 2018 | The trouble with being a witty woman. Dorothy Parker, praised for her sharpness, was marketed for her personality. She wanted to be recognized for her intellect... more »


April 6, 2018 | Reading Julia Kristeva's Bulgarian intelligence dossier feels like voyeurism. Turns out she used theoretical language even in letters to her father... more »


April 5, 2018 | By the mid-‘60s, Joan Didion was bored with writing film reviews. A murder case helped her hone a neat trick: how to convey a personal matter at a distance... more »


April 4, 2018 | For 200 years, Frankenstein has been read as a warning against unfettered scientific inquiry. That reflects a profound misunderstanding of the story... more »


April 3, 2018 | The man behind the dictionary. Noah Webster Jr. had superiority issues, a penchant for political incorrectness, and a zeal for Americanizing English... more »


April 2, 2018 | In 1941, W.H. Auden taught a class at the University of Michigan that required 6,000 pages of reading. Would a college student take such a course today? Yes, it turns out... more »


March 31, 2018 | When music went minimalist. Boos echoed around Carnegie Hall; patrons headed for the exits; a woman banged her shoe on the stage, imploring the musicians to stop... more »


March 30, 2018 | Galileo’s invention of the telescope not only broke with the church but upset philosophers as well. “To observe through those glasses gives me a headache,” said one professor... more »


March 29, 2018 | Joanna Russ isn't much remembered in the annals of science fiction, nor women’s writing, and certainly not American literature. But her influence is felt all the same... more »


March 28, 2018 | The surprisingly successful addict. During her battle with alcohol, Leslie Jamison got prestigious degrees, sold a novel, and took the world by storm... more »


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