March 29, 2019 | On September 26, 1940, in a room at the Hotel Franca in Portbou, Spain, Walter Benjamin swallowed 15 morphine tablets. What happened to his suitcase?... more »


March 28, 2019 | Praise the pigeon. They are smart, fast, and can differentiate a Matisse from a Picasso. As Marianne Moore wrote, “Modesty cannot dull the luster of the pigeon”... more »


March 27, 2019 | "Art can’t save you," says Christian Wiman. "It can give you glimpses of something beautiful, maybe even something redemptive, but there’s nothing there to hold onto"... more »


March 26, 2019 | A war over wool. The dour “Staplers” took on “the Company of Merchant Adventurers.” The 14th-century battle — which played out in Chaucerian verse — offers lessons for Brexit... more »


March 25, 2019 | Code-named “the commode,” the operation culminated a 40-year hunt for one of the most expensive books in the world... more »


March 23, 2019 | Critics debate a new Hudson Yards structure  — does it resemble a beehive or a pine cone? They agree, though, that it is an exercise in architectural cynicism... more »


March 22, 2019 | Literary theory was a revolution. What happens when the revolutionaries grow old? Jane Gallop on age, falling out of fashion, and why teaching is inevitably erotic... more »


March 21, 2019 | Walter Benjamin in Ibiza. He escaped Nazism, went without electricity, proposed marriage and was rejected. He decided to commit suicide but didn’t. Not yet... more »


March 20, 2019 | The mystery of Bernard-Henri Lévy: How did a man so often described as inane come to be regarded as a public intellectual?... more »


March 19, 2019 | Hilma af Klint has been lauded as the inventor of abstract art. But she didn’t think of her work as abstract, and her visual approach was centuries old... more »


March 18, 2019 | The Second Sex is a type of book: bold, original, scholarly, criticized, refuted, yet enduring. Books like this don't die. But academics don't write them anymore. Too bad... more »


March 16, 2019 | A virus has been described as bad news wrapped in a protein. When one recently colonized B.D. McClay, she got to thinking about the malicious particles that surround us... more »


March 15, 2019 | Frida Kahlo has been portrayed as a tango-dancing flirt and a dotty performance artist. But to understand her real life, go beyond her image... more »


March 14, 2019 | When Christopher Hitchens argued about religion, was it really about religion? Or was it about picking a side and never backing down? Call it the Hitchens Principle... more »


March 13, 2019 | Street art used to be about anti-establishment activism, punk rock, and community spirit. Now it's the handmaid of consumerism ... more »


March 12, 2019 | Eric Hobsbawm, failed music critic: Elvis was “a peculiarly unappetising Texan lad”; Miles Davis, “of surprisingly narrow technical and emotional range"... more »


March 11, 2019 | Thomas Nagel has a prediction: Our present practices of killing animals for food, when no longer gastronomically necessary, will become morally unimaginable... more »


March 9, 2019 | Writers like Zola, Balzac, and Dickens — masters of a range of modes — are vanishingly rare. But we do have John Lanchester... more »


March 8, 2019 | Steven Pinker's message — that despite significant challenges we’re making progress as a species — seems benign. Why do so many people hate him?... more »


March 7, 2019 | The bad boy of French literature. The real Cyrano de Bergerac dueled, drank, and chased women. When he was 36, the Jesuits reputedly arranged for him to have an accident... more »


March 6, 2019 | A market still exists for Hitler’s watercolors, yet that dark corner of the art world is beset by a problem: rampant forgeries... more »


March 5, 2019 | Who was Oscar Levant? The sardonic piano-playing sidekick in plenty of films in the '40s. Turns out his talent was bigger than anything he managed to do with it... more »


March 4, 2019 | Talk of translating literature is often esoteric; invariably it's described as an “art.” Unreliability is built into each step of the process. As is anxiety... more »


March 2, 2019 | An anti-Communist at large. Arthur Koestler’s 1972 trip to Iceland was pure slapstick: homebrew on the plane, a restaurant called Nausea, and KGB agents galore... more »


March 1, 2019 | How to become the most successful art thief ever? No violence, no midnight break-ins, no dash to a getaway car... more »


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