July 18, 2018 | When Mount Vesuvius erupted, thousands of papyrus scrolls were buried — the only intact ancient library. Will they finally be read?... more »


July 17, 2018 | Auden left Britain for America in 1939 — “at the first squeak of an air-raid warning,” said Evelyn Waugh. Was it mere cowardice?... more »


July 16, 2018 | In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea that became the internet. Since then he's thought of little but how to guard it — and of how he's failed to do so... more »


July 14, 2018 | For the past 25 years, in novel after novel, Michel Houellebecq advanced a case against modern sexuality. Now his dystopia is our reality... more »


July 13, 2018 | During Shoah’s, 9 1/2 hours, Claude Lanzmann, who died last week, displayed a genius for not looking away from enormities and not tolerating niceties... more »


July 12, 2018 | Pity the semicolon. In poor favor since the mid-19th century, now it’s an object of derision. The semicolon is a goofy antique, yes, but it still works... more »


July 11, 2018 | The man who discovered probability. We now live in a Bayesian age, but for centuries Thomas Bayes was dismissed as a crank. It's a scandal of modern intellectual life... more »


July 10, 2018 | Concerns about cultural appropriation in literature have mounted. These complaints are baffling: What, exactly, is cultural appropriation?... more »


July 9, 2018 | Lewis Carroll in Russia. He arrived with wide-eyed enthusiasm and by all accounts seemed to enjoy himself. Yet he would never venture abroad again... more »


July 7, 2018 | A rave, in 1518. A woman stepped outside her house in Strasbourg and jigged for days on end. Hundreds joined in, some until they lost consciousness or died... more »


July 6, 2018 | Taken from his dorm at Moscow’s Literary Institute in the middle of the night, Naum Korzhavin faced down his interrogators and survived. He “won this idiocy contest”... more »


July 5, 2018 | At the age of 38, Alexander Wilson was a middling poet with no scientific expertise. So how did he produce, over the next 10 years, his astounding ornithological writings?... more »


July 4, 2018 | Habsburg culture is back. Why? Nostalgia for its glamour, and our identifying with the late imperial period's disorienting changes in society and politics... more »


July 3, 2018 | On Instagram, half of all comments include an emoji. On Messenger, five billion are sent and received every day. Are emoji a universal language? Or are they destroying language?... more »


July 2, 2018 | Balthus liked painting young girls, sometimes nude, often posed erotically. Should his artistic preoccupation be seen as a troubling personal one?... more »


June 30, 2018 | Life is awash with inducements to stupidity and greed. Witness how the global art market is too busy acquiring to think about much of anything else... more »


June 29, 2018 | Romain Gary, literary bad boy. He fabulated copiously, wrote under assumed names, and won the Prix Goncourt twice, which was technically impossible... more »


June 28, 2018 | How should a novelist be? Don't read about yourself — not reviews, think pieces, stories, or tweets. Jonathan Franzen contemplates life, art, and bushtits... more »


June 27, 2018 | Nietzsche's writing style — aphoristic, polemical, funny, scathing — grew out of a belief that readers want to be provoked, amused, and annoyed... more »


June 26, 2018 | George Orwell's socialism is often treated as the naïve and quirky belief of a lovable eccentric. The truth is more complex... more »


June 25, 2018 | If artificial intelligence ever produces a sentient machine capable of engaging in conversation, it will most likely be a machine no one will want to talk with... more »


June 23, 2018 | What if Gravity’s Rainbow or Ulysses or Finnegans Wake came out today? We may once have liked complex books, but not anymore. Martin Amis explains... more »


June 22, 2018 | When French intellectuals go wild! Postwar Paris was all preening, partying, and prostitutes -- or so says a new history of bed-hopping on the Left Bank... more »


June 21, 2018 | An air of improvisation and fun graced everything Stanley Cavell did — he seemed to make it up as he went. The philosopher is dead at 91... more »


June 20, 2018 | Murders over a Mexican stele, a “Modigliani” unceremoniously tossed around, frequent calls from the FBI. Life is not dull for James Martin, the world’s top art detective ... more »


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