Dec. 25, 2018 | The science of wit. “Humor at its best is a kind of heightened truth — a super-truth,” E.B. White wrote. That principle has a corollary in nature: supernormal stimuli... more »


Dec. 24, 2018 | How to reconcile Philip Larkin's poems and prejudices? He thought his poems were for the public, whereas his letters were not. In that respect, the man was a gibbering dunce, says Clive James... more »


Dec. 22, 2018 | Toward the end of his life, Kurt Gödel grew frail and disturbed. He trusted only his wife to prepare his food. When she was hospitalized, disaster struck... more »


Dec. 21, 2018 | Claas Relotius, feature-writing wunderkind at Der Spiegel, has been revealed as a forger and fabricator. How he fooled the fact checkers... more »


Dec. 20, 2018 | Trust the process. The Oulipo produce literature by adopting a rule and seeing what happens. Anything goes as long as it somehow involves chance... more »


Dec. 19, 2018 | It is a banal philosophical idea, espoused by the Buddha, Sufi masters, Schopenhauer, Bergson, and Weil: Civilization depends on humility... more »


Dec. 18, 2018 | Ornate chandeliers, marble tables, waiters dressed like dignitaries: How the cafés of Europe became the gilded birthplace of cosmopolitanism... more »


Dec. 17, 2018 | "What would Hitchens say?" The question is asked when a new crisis emerges. But it's the wrong question. Better to think for yourself... more »


Dec. 15, 2018 | In 1965, Allen Ginsberg began using a tape recorder to produce his work — the same technology that the CIA and FBI were using to spy on him... more »


Dec. 14, 2018 | What kind of artist would tattoo someone else’s poetry on her skin and try to pass it off as her own? A scandal in the small world of online poetry... more »


Dec. 13, 2018 | What explains Agatha Christie’s durable appeal? She’s very good at murder, and at mixing orderly settings with deep malignity... more »


Dec. 12, 2018 | From 1964 until this year, the American Heritage Dictionary usage panel adjudicated linguistic disputes. Its demise marks the end of a striking episode in American English... more »


Dec. 11, 2018 | Harvey Mansfield has the tragic pleasure of bringing two books to posthumous publication. The first is by his daughter, the second by his wife... more »


Dec. 10, 2018 | Maya Angelou, food writer. A recipe — and its candid, confessional back story — can be as bracing and uncompromising as her verse and prose... more »


Dec. 8, 2018 | The world’s nicest know-it-all. Why does John McPhee know so much about Sophia Loren, the Moscow State Circus, and the golf habits of the Washington elite?... more »


Dec. 7, 2018 | The invention of the telescope sparked a revolution in art. For Milton, who visited Galileo, seeing the cosmos was a visit from the Muse... more »


Dec. 6, 2018 | Solzhenitsyn was viewed as an arch-reactionary rooted in the 19th century. But his revolt against liberal condescension foresaw the 21st... more »


Dec. 5, 2018 | The hedonist and the artist. If excess often accompanies creativity, why do so many artists seek asceticism?... more »


Dec. 4, 2018 | Ghostwriters, noms de plume, plagiarism, forgery — the elements of literary hoaxing have a long history. But the rules have changed... more »


Dec. 3, 2018 | Owen, Sassoon, Gurney, and Graves: The words of the war poets hardened into a kind of orthodoxy. But that wasn't their fault... more »


Dec. 1, 2018 | With his “free-energy principle,” the neuroscientist Karl Friston believes he has discovered the organizing principle of all life. Unfortunately, no one can understand it... more »


Nov. 30, 2018 | Poetry printed on bags of sauerkraut; a “bed” made out of bread; an exhibit called “Chicken Knickers.” What are artists who use food as their medium up to?... more »


Nov. 29, 2018 | Uwe Johnson, the Faulkner of East Germany, wrote a 1,700-page tome describing America's empty grandiosity. Is it the most ambivalent immigration novel ever written?... more »


Nov. 28, 2018 | The path to literary glory is paved with calumny, envy, bias, and malice. Past those obstacles, many others await... more »


Nov. 27, 2018 | Alexander Weygers, the Leonardo of Silicon Valley, subsisted on dandelion soup and gopher stew while designing flying saucers. It was a simpler time... more »


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