April 20, 2016 | The Coetzee archives. “All writing is autobiography,” he likes to say. But how much could he bear to reveal in his own papers?... more »


April 19, 2016 | The cult of science. As it gains more and more prestige, it attracts opportunists and charlatans spewing an ocean of nonsense... more »


April 18, 2016 | “The food of the true revolutionary is the red pepper,” declared Mao, who liked his meals spicy. Turns out, he may have been on to something... more »


April 16, 2016 | Inspired by Nietzsche, the architect Philip Johnson went to Berlin to understand both art and power. There he marveled at blond boys in black leather paying homage to Hitler... more »


April 15, 2016 | Edward Copleston was a shrewd observer of the literary scene. His essay "Advice to a Young Reviewer" was published in 1807. It holds up disturbingly well... more »


April 14, 2016 | How societies make progress. It can't be engineered or managed, as technocrats and many academics think. Rather, social institutions evolve... more »


April 13, 2016 | Nabokov made hundreds of magnified drawings of butterfly genitalia. What can his lepidoptery tell us about his literary output?... more »


April 12, 2016 | Is academic prose really an unintelligible stew of bloviating inanities and polysyllabic gibberish? Sure looks that way... more »


April 11, 2016 | Meet Irv Teibel, the man who took his recording equipment to the seashore and came back New York's least likely media mogul... more »


April 9, 2016 | Violette Leduc - thief, smuggler, writer, lesbian - articulated a feminism of lived experience. Not like her mentor, Simone de Beauvoir... more »


April 8, 2016 | Cervantes and Shakespeare. One was a man of action, a warrior, and, for a time, a slave. The other preferred writing tales of men at war... more »


April 7, 2016 | Praise pretension! It’s a noble cultural yearning, an assertion of intellectual ambition, a refusal to be defined by a reductive understanding of oneself... more »


April 6, 2016 | Eugenics is now seen as harmful folly. But once it was beloved of progressives, reformers, and intellectual elites. And nowhere was it more central than at Harvard... more »


April 5, 2016 | Adrienne Rich’s feminism changed her life and her poetry. It also placed her at odds with Susan Sontag, who regarded such moralizing as powerful but limiting... more »


April 4, 2016 | Paranoia, brutality, longevity: Stalin's three decades in power have the ingredients of a great novel. So why the dearth of Stalinist fiction?... more »


April 2, 2016 | Who was Terry Southern? Writer, faded celebrity, stoner-raconteur, and pioneer of all that was breathless, new, and weird in the '60s... more »


April 1, 2016 | Darwin did not take metaphors lightly. He honed them and defended them. That was the case with "natural selection," which wasn't his first choice for evolution... more »


March 31, 2016 | When languages meet, one usually dies. And revival is rare. That’s a depressing thought for a linguist who finds English kind of boring... more »


March 30, 2016 | Nathan Glazer is an intellectual loner by temperament and design. Also because he possesses that rare thing: a willingness to change his mind... more »


March 29, 2016 | Was Shakespeare rich? He was well-to-do, akin to the minor gentry in Stratford-upon-Avon, but not wealthy. Nothing like his rival, Ben Jonson... more »


March 28, 2016 | Camus in America. He was attracted by the hospitality but repelled by the superficiality. “The secret to conversation here is to talk in order to say nothing” ... more »


March 26, 2016 | It's magisterial, built of mahogany with a leather writing surface. It even appeared on a book jacket. Will no one buy Saul Bellow's desk?... more »


March 25, 2016 | Odd fact: More than a few jihadists have studied engineering. Why? It's not about nationality or religion, but about how they think... more »


March 24, 2016 | They gather each morning at 8:30 in a converted warehouse in Long Island City. What brings them together is a shared belief that the 20th century ruined art... more »


March 23, 2016 | Economics has a reputation for ideological diversity, even conservatism. But the field has a radical past that argues for a different future... more »


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