Nov. 16, 2019 | "The question of what you are is qualitative, not quantitative. What sort? What life? What team? In late 1995, I chose to switch teams.” Deirdre McCloskey on changing gender... more »


Nov. 15, 2019 | Unable to predict a crash or facilitate prosperity, economics is now a field of dubious value. And yet it retains an unearned intellectual authority... more »


Nov. 14, 2019 | Ibsen was reviled by some as immoral, hailed by others as prophetic. James Joyce thought him the most influential intellect of his time. Ibsen retains his potency today... more »


Nov. 13, 2019 | Which words should be banished? “Adorkable,” “YOLO,” and “influencer” are popular suggestions. But policing language is a fraught exercise... more »


Nov. 12, 2019 | The origin stories of big ideas highlight the eureka moments. But it's the mundane work that is key. Inspiration favors the prepared mind... more »


Nov. 11, 2019 | "Liberalism" is a slippery word for Americans, who have no experience of anything else. Now critics are falling over themselves... more »


Nov. 9, 2019 | When the Aztecs met Cortés, they did not think he was a deity. Rather, they scouted his forces and set up a war room. So why does another tale persist?... more »


Nov. 8, 2019 | The sad-lady literary sirens are legion: Plath, Woolf, Jean Rhys. What would it mean, wonders Leslie Jamison, to move beyond them?... more »


Nov. 7, 2019 | “Where man strives for knowledge, the Devil will never be far away.” Knausgaard contemplates the power and temptations of literature... more »


Nov. 6, 2019 | Cave art has been found on nearly every continent. What does it mean? That our Paleolithic ancestors knew something we still strain to imagine... more »


Nov. 5, 2019 | Google has a “chief happiness officer,” a “treat yourself” ethic reigns, and happiness bloggers score viral hits. Yet peak happiness is a noxious goal... more »


Nov. 4, 2019 | Reading Kierkegaard can be dispiriting. He seems so dour, so tortured by inner turmoil. But he was, in some odd way, a happy writer... more »


Nov. 2, 2019 | Education of an architect. Aspiring to greatness is now conflated with aspiring to novelty, bolstering the field's affinity for what’s ugly... more »


Nov. 1, 2019 | Young Lucian Freud delighted in shocking visitors. He maintained a grisly cast of mounted animals in his home, and stored two dead monkeys in his kitchen oven... more »


Oct. 31, 2019 | To accommodate drinking, the Literary Review established the Academy Club. Poets were banned for never paying their tabs and for bad conversation... more »


Oct. 30, 2019 | Lusty retirees and power-lifting septuagenarians churn out books chronicling the joys of aging. It’s all quite misleading, of course... more »


Oct. 29, 2019 | "One doesn’t want to share in that old-man vibe and die of a heart attack after a student protester shows us her breasts." Justin E.H. Smith on avoiding Adorno's fate... more »


Oct. 28, 2019 | John Ashbery was famous for his impenetrability. "My poetry is disjunct," he said, "but then so is life." Fair enough. But is it fair to the reader?... more »


Oct. 26, 2019 | Why are some intellectuals pardoned for past sins, but others condemned? Case study: the reaction to a new collection by the “fascist icon” Charles Maurras... more »


Oct. 25, 2019 | Bartleby, autistic? Melville, on the spectrum? Literary critics used to make such armchair diagnoses, but now they’ve gotten more sophisticated... more »


Oct. 24, 2019 | Peter Handke has been widely denounced for his politics, but what of his prose? Turns out it’s associative, digressive, oneiric, and, above all, idiosyncratic... more »


Oct. 23, 2019 | J.S. Bach, bad boy. We remember him as a saint, but he downed beer by the gallon, got mixed up in knife fights, and consorted with women in the organ loft... more »


Oct. 22, 2019 | Parents whitewash parenting. For the truth, turn to Knausgaard: The car seat will humiliate you; you will panic in silence... more »


Oct. 21, 2019 | Everyone, academics included, hates academic writing. But maybe the disgust is misplaced. Could it be that most academic writing is actually pretty good?... more »


Oct. 19, 2019 | Reading is not a team sport. Thus, when we talk of the historical or cultural power of the novel, we may miss its real strength: establishing intimacy... more »


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