Oct. 9, 2015 | Constable vs. Turner; Newton vs. Leibniz; Edison vs. Tesla. Does having an intellectual rival spur creativity? History suggests so... more »


Oct. 8, 2015 | George Scialabba, an introvert at work in a windowless basement at Harvard, is a critic's critic: Not widely known, but widely admired... more »


Oct. 7, 2015 | The tyranny of experts. How a superrich coterie in Washington State holds sway over the fate of the hungry and the powerless... more »


Oct. 6, 2015 | When memory disappears. Life with dementia — misery, anger, sadness, dark comedy — is an awkward teeter between despair and hope ... more »


Oct. 5, 2015 | Paul Theroux visited Patagonia and the Congo and Sikkim before reaching the American South — where he indulged in every possible cliché... more »


Oct. 3, 2015 | Ancient Romans, they're just like us: ill-fated military escapades, social-welfare policies, urban living, corruption. The similarities, however, are misleading... more »


Oct. 2, 2015 | John Updike was most openly himself as a poet. Thus his focus on the erotic and on bodily functions: “Fellatio,” "Mouse Sex," “The Beautiful Bowel Movement”... more »


Oct. 1, 2015 | Marxism Today — feisty, fractious, produced on a shoestring — published its last issue in 1991. It's never been more relevant ... more »


Sept. 30, 2015 | Invented in 1874, barbed wire has proved resilient both functionally and symbolically. Robert Zaretsky uncoils its tragic history... more »


Sept. 29, 2015 | Banned Books Week, an annual campaign against censorship in America, is well-intentioned, in the right, and completely irrelevant ... more »


Sept. 28, 2015 | Consider the blurb. What began with a note from Emerson to Whitman has become pervasive — even though there's little evidence that blurbs sell any books... more »


Sept. 26, 2015 | “No more portraits," John Berger demanded in 1967 — the genre stood for social status and celebrity. Now the critic has pulled an about-face... more »


Sept. 25, 2015 | Ivan Maisky — intelligent, spirited, polyglot — was Stalin's ambassador to London in the 1930s. His diary, while unreliable, is a revelation... more »


Sept. 24, 2015 | Flaubert, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir: French intellectual culture was once the envy of the world. Now it’s mired in malaise... more »


Sept. 23, 2015 | While heroes inspire admiration, do-gooders tend to provoke unease, as if there is something perverse about all that virtue... more »


Sept. 22, 2015 | Picture Hamlet. Is he lean, pensive, brooding? Probably, because that's how the role has been cast. But what if Hamlet were fat?... more »


Sept. 21, 2015 | A belief in the universal appeal of Western liberal values has long been a feature of American opinion. But those values are losing sway... more »


Sept. 19, 2015 | The rents were low, the cultural world was small and buzzing with theories, markets, and movements. Ah, to be in New York in the 70s... more »


Sept. 18, 2015 | Over 11 days in New York in 1964, Samuel Beckett and Buster Keaton engaged in one of the strangest experiments in movie history... more »


Sept. 17, 2015 | Did the Enlightenment have Buddhist roots? How Tibetan lamas, Siamese monks, and an Italian missionary inspired David Hume... more »


Sept. 16, 2015 | The faculty lounge was a good fit for a polymath like Saul Bellow, who thrived intellectually in the academy while deteriorating as a novelist... more »


Sept. 15, 2015 | Who is Joan Didion? We talk of her as an essayist and grief memoirist, as a political writer, and as a novelist. There must be a connection... more »


Sept. 14, 2015 | The current generation of black thinkers is distinct from its predecessors in many ways, not least this: They don't aspire to the Ivy League... more »


Sept. 12, 2015 | Philip Kelley has spent more than 50 years editing the correspondence – 11,601 letters – of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. But don't call him a scholar... more »


Sept. 11, 2015 | Yes, Aldous Huxley liked taking acid, but he also liked Renaissance madrigals. The story of an unlikely icon of psychedelic music... more »


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