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 »

July 27, 2016 | New ideas are necessary engines of progress. Most aren't new, however, but result from what Steven Poole calls the looping "evolution of ideas"... more »

July 26, 2016 | H.L. Mencken, who died 60 years ago, was irritable, unpredictable, bigoted, brilliant — and he's as relevant as ever... more »

July 25, 2016 | You can’t weigh, record, or export it. You can’t eat it, collect it, or give it away. But in a noisy world, silence sells. Just ask Finland... more »

July 23, 2016 | Wasps are a threat, often putting us at risk of a sting. But wasps lead exemplary lives, and they're responsible for a great shift in cultural history... more »

July 22, 2016 | Literature is full of impostors, but few have pulled off a hoax as brazen or bizarre as JT Leroy, the novelist who wasn't who he seemed ... more »

July 21, 2016 | "A story is like a human face," says Svetlana Alexievich. "We have as many stories as human faces. You might have similar facial features, but they're all a little different"... more »

July 20, 2016 | Diane Arbus is remembered for taking her camera into the street to capture images of outsiders. Her career began as the quieter half of a polite fashion-photography couple... more »

July 19, 2016 | For Martha Nussbaum, aging wisely requires coming to terms with one's body. She’s done so through opera singing, running, Botox, semi-public urination, and an unsedated colonoscopy... more »

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 »

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