Nov. 30, 2015 | There is always a need for wise, omnivorous critics, advocates of complexity over simplicity. Clive James is among the best of them... more »


Nov. 28, 2015 | Aldous Huxley was a prolific and panoramic thinker on the question of human potential. He was also something of a dupe... more »


Nov. 27, 2015 | Primo Levi was a great writer, a vivid writer, an unflinching writer, an indispensable writer. He was also a limited writer... more »


Nov. 26, 2015 | On the floor of an old factory in Boston: fungus, dirt, and scat. On the walls: 8,000 books, a record of William James's obsession with the supernatural... more »


Nov. 25, 2015 | When he dictated his autobiography, Mark Twain said whatever came to mind: “I collect pets: young girls from 10 to 16 years old; girls who are pretty and sweet... more »


Nov. 24, 2015 | Tap used to be everywhere — vaudeville, nightclubs, movies, musicals. Then Bill (Bojangles) Robinson died. Now tap is kept alive — just barely — by grants and private patronage... more »


Nov. 23, 2015 | Carefully wrought, melancholy, many-comma’d prose featuring affluent white characters and lengthy physical descriptions: The New Yorker story is born... more »


Nov. 21, 2015 | John Horton Conway, a man of great ambition and wit, is a brilliant mathematician  but will be remembered best as a game inventor... more »


Nov. 20, 2015 | How did Sam Phillips invent rock ’n’ roll? By listening to the voices of poor people neglected by history ... more »


Nov. 19, 2015 | Eliminating hunger is more a matter of politics than of food production. Consider the relationship between war and famine... more »


Nov. 18, 2015 | Sir George Scharf was a Victorian art curator who lived with his mother and had bad digestion. Is he the most boring man in history?... more »


Nov. 17, 2015 | Doris Lessing’s MI5 file opens in 1943 and ends in 1959. Along the way, we learn little about Lessing but much about British intelligence... more »


Nov. 16, 2015 | Laszlo Polgár had a plan for raising prodigies. His three daughters all became chess champions. Has a Hungarian home-schooler solved the nature-nurture debate?... more »


Nov. 14, 2015 | If the the intellectual world has a center, the Paris apartment of André Glucksmann has long been one of its locales... more »


Nov. 13, 2015 | Word after word, page after page, mile after mile: Why do so many writers take up running? They're chasing a state of mind... more »


Nov. 12, 2015 | Every age has its scolds, at least since the codex replaced the scroll. Literary culture, they warn, is being dumbed down. This is nonsense... more »


Nov. 11, 2015 | "Fail again. Fail better.” With that, Samuel Beckett entered the annals of self-help. But what did he really mean?... more »


Nov. 10, 2015 | Truman Streckfus Persons was the son of a con man and an alcoholic. Spirited and strange, remarkably precocious, he made his way in New York as Truman Capote... more »


Nov. 9, 2015 | After 18 books, Jenny Diski is 70,000 words into her cancer diary. She writes between swigs of morphine. It will be her last book... more »


Nov. 7, 2015 | Thomas Merton’s forgotten chapter. Before he was a poet/monk, he was a Cambridge student, drinking too much and sleeping around... more »


Nov. 6, 2015 | We have two visions of how reality works: general relativity and quantum mechanics. Problem is, they are fundamentally incompatible... more »


Nov. 5, 2015 | The mufti of Jerusalem during World War II admired the Nazis and hated and feared Jews. But did he instigate the Holocaust?... more »


Nov. 4, 2015 | Known to friends as “Ogie” — as in ogre — and to Virginia Woolf as “the gigantic grasshopper,” Aldous Huxley loomed large... more »


Nov. 3, 2015 | Religion doesn't poison everything, but it's poisoning politics. Education is meant not to destroy religion but to encourage doubt. Lawrence Krauss explains... more »


Nov. 2, 2015 | David Brooks knows he's veered into weird territory. The political columnist has grown tired of politics. His new beat: morality... more »


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