April 3, 2015 | More than a scientific concept, the Anthropocene is an all-encompassing idea fraught with political, ethical, and aesthetic implications... more »

April 2, 2015 | Things that irk Mary Norris: poorly punctuated signs, the wrong sort of pencil, misused apostrophes, complaints about New Yorker style... more »

April 1, 2015 | Romance fiction accounts for half of the mass-market paperbacks sold in America. But the genre gets no love from lit scholars... more »

March 31, 2015 | In 1988, the historian Barbara Taylor arrived at a great Victorian institution: the Colney Hatch mental asylum. She was a patient... more »

March 30, 2015 | Ever lost yourself sublimely in a work of music? Schubert understood this effect two centuries before science caught up... more »

March 28, 2015 | The Quill, the Walkie-Talkie, the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin, the Shard: Skyscrapers attract strange nicknames to go with outlandish analyses... more »

March 27, 2015 | Rube Goldberg. His name is synonymous with the needless complexity of newfangled devices. His ideas, though, tended to be rudimentary... more »

March 26, 2015 | What can be gleaned from a linguistic analysis of World Bank reports? That the language ? and reality ? of global finance grows ever more opaque... more »

March 25, 2015 | Germaine Greer's archive: correspondence with Warren Beatty and Diane Arbus, color-coded annotations, evidence of a woman uneasy with her public image... more »

March 24, 2015 | Saul Bellow liked to provoke people, even providing one critic with a velvet pillow to place beneath the ?brick-size chip on his shoulder?... more »

March 23, 2015 | The idea of hell has evolved over millennia. Where did it come from, and why does it endure? A brief history of eternal punishment... more »

March 21, 2015 | Mapmaking mystery. How did a 13th-century cartographer do work so accurate that you could still navigate the Mediterranean with it?... more »

March 20, 2015 | G.K. Chesterton inveighed against pessimism, determinism, pragmatism, even Impressionism. Yes, Impressionism: 'It puts what one notices above what one knows?... more »

March 19, 2015 | The self-invention of Herman Melville. In Polynesia, as in the settings of his early books, he made it up as he went along... more »

March 18, 2015 | The problem with conspiracy theorists isn't that they lack information. The problem is that they lack intellectual character... more »

March 17, 2015 | It's nice to think that humankind is becoming more empathetic and selfless. And less violent. But is it true? John Gray takes aim at optimism... more »

March 16, 2015 | Read Raymond Williams. Only a coterie of Marxists, academics, students, and wonderful oddballs like Geoff Dyer still do. Too bad... more »

March 14, 2015 | A pernicious groupthink has infected certain branches of science, in which identity and politics trump inquiry and evidence. Ask Alice Dreger... more »

March 13, 2015 | Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm expected to be remembered long after their deaths ? for their masterful philological studies, not their fairy tales... more »

March 12, 2015 | The Sappho wars. For three millennia, the life of the poet has been the center of controversy. But how relevant is her biography to her work?... more »

March 11, 2015 | Tipping: It's a form of payment, an expression of gratitude, a sign of respect. Or is it a mark of condescension?... more »

March 10, 2015 | A pop song's life on the pop charts is short, even brutish. Maybe that's why a strain of sadness has long run through the songbook... more »

March 9, 2015 | Life was not going well for Claude Debussy: bad marriage, bad health, debt, writer's block. Then he escaped Paris for Normandy... more »

March 7, 2015 | Do you know what 'sprezzatura? means? How about 'starboard out, starboard home?? Secret frames of reference govern writing... more »

March 6, 2015 | Dylan Thomas excelled in the role of doomed poet: Drinking, debt, squalor, petty theft, not-so-petty theft... more »

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