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 »

July 16, 2016 | The agonies of H.T. Tsiang: literary rejection, an imagined feud with Pearl S. Buck, a deportation order. His life was stranger than his fiction... more »

July 15, 2016 | In his youth, Voltaire, spendthrift and gambler, met writers who were "penniless and held in contempt.” He would avoid that fate. So he gamed the lottery... more »

July 14, 2016 | Helen DeWitt went to Oxford to study Euripides and discovered she’d rather be Euripides. Now she rages against the publishing industry: “Plato did not have an editor”... more »

July 13, 2016 | Sleep was once about the spiritual, the Greek gods, the Sandman. Now it’s about physiology, medicalization, insomnia. Philosophical consequences abound... more »

July 12, 2016 | Catullus’ corpus of 116 poems teems with rage and obscenity. He was Rome’s most erotic poet, but we know almost nothing of him. Cue the dark arts of speculative historical reconstruction... more »

July 11, 2016 | 11 Picassos, six van Goghs, five Cézannes and a rare pair of Monets. That's what's at stake in a family art feud. “It’s Agatha Christie meets Homer”... more »

July 9, 2016 | The plight of the precursor. It's better than not being remembered at all, but the word damns with faint praise. Consider Theodore Rousseau, precursor to Monet and Cezanne ... more »

July 8, 2016 | Schooled in both Aquinas and Marx, Terry Eagleton remains the best advertisement for articulate argument and trenchant literary judgment... more »

July 7, 2016 | Authors and editors. The relationship is symbiotic, fruitful, and fraught. The possibilities for bruised feelings are, of course, endless... more »

July 6, 2016 | What was it like to be edited by William Shawn? I'm appending “a few questions,” he told a writer of a New Yorker profile. There were 178... more »

July 5, 2016 | Igor Stravinsky thought standard arrangements of the "Star-Spangled Banner" were amateurish. In 1941 he wrote a new version. Then the police intervened... more »

July 4, 2016 | The Nabokovs were "Zelig-like figures of twentieth-century catastrophe." They were wanderers, by necessity and maybe inclination. Memory was what rooted them ... more »

July 2, 2016 | The average English film subtitle is a bar of thin sans-serif text of around 40 characters. A model of economy, it's an art form worthy of critical scrutiny... more »

July 1, 2016 | Edna O'Brien has written often about love and beauty. In her new novel - maybe her last - she turns her attention toward evil ... more »

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