June 13, 2017 | Austro-Hungarian modernists like Wittgenstein, Karl Kraus, and Joseph Roth were anti-utopian and anti-ideological. What were they for? Irony... more »


June 12, 2017 | Philosophical writing is pedantically precise. It's not much fun and doesn't much influence people. The problems are hard to settle. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it... more »


June 10, 2017 | Quick: Think of a novel devoted to climate change. Tough, right? What explains this failure of imagination involving the fate of the world?... more »


June 9, 2017 | In the end, it's been said, authors write for professors. But the scholarly fate of Thoreau is uncertain; the 7,000 pages of his journal still await full study. It is the great untold secret of American letters... more »


June 8, 2017 | Published 50 years ago, One Hundred Years of Solitude has become a trendy text. Frederic Jameson considers its cultural, political, and aesthetic ascendance... more »


June 7, 2017 | Where tarot cards come from. Not ancient Egypt, but a place almost as mysterious: Paris, in 1781, with its occult-obsessed secret societies and private clubs... more »


June 6, 2017 | The personalized internet curates our social-media feeds and individualizes our search results. It's a marvel. It's also caused an explosion of intellectual arrogance... more »


June 5, 2017 | Churchill and Orwell, different in so many ways, shared a determination to confront unpleasant realities. They also had a tragic understanding that their views were unlikely to prevail... more »


June 3, 2017 | W.G. Sebald is famous for his Holocaust writing, depiction of vacant landscapes, and sense of drifting melancholy. But comedy was key to his brilliance... more »


June 2, 2017 | "One can be taught—and one needs to be taught—how to look," says Philippe de Montebello. "This is why I am so impatient with those who want to position their museum as a form of entertainment"... more »


June 1, 2017 | Why we need Thoreau. His critics note that his moral vision was linked to self-righteousness. But who hasn’t felt self-righteous? His frustrations are ours as well... more »


May 31, 2017 | After the “Midcentury Misogynists,” male American writers tended to avoid writing about sex, lest they be seen, like Updike, as “a penis with a thesaurus”... more »


May 30, 2017 | Of all the biographers who have written about Hemingway, not one was a woman. Now comes Mary Dearborn, immune to the writer's hairy-chested legend... more »


May 29, 2017 | What is a library? If you think it's just a place where society stores books, then you have a dangerously impoverished view of what knowledge can be... more »


May 27, 2017 | Einstein hated beets. Hitchcock wouldn't eat eggs. Colson Whitehead can't stand ice cream. We are what we eat, but what's the significance of what we don't eat?... more »


May 26, 2017 | Fifty years after her genteel verse graced the Yale Younger Poets series, Adrienne Rich had become a dissident. She hadn’t exactly chosen poetry in the first place... more »


May 25, 2017 | Martin Luther, unfiltered. He lived in a bachelor’s chaos and hated Jews, papists, and Calvinists, among others. Then he married a runaway nun who brewed excellent beer... more »


May 24, 2017 | There will be cats. Murakami novels feature felines, detective heroes, and creepy sex. Readers are so hooked on the formula that the variations hardly matter... more »


May 23, 2017 | For modern interpreters, Greek tragedy boils down to lessons of power — how to get and keep it. And sexual politics, of course... more »


May 22, 2017 | Imagination, idealism, an urge for self-transcendence: Why prominent intellectuals have been so willing to support terrible regimes ... more »


May 20, 2017 | Graduate school is unkind to mind and body. To retain some health, go on dates. Have sex. Come to think of it, the world of online dating is a lot like to the academic job market... more »


May 19, 2017 | The Passion of Michel Foucault. He was a surrealist, masochist, militant, Maoist, reformist, structuralist, comrade, and lover. He was also suicide-obsessed and hard to ignore... more »


May 18, 2017 | Veronica Forrest-Thomson wrote one volume of criticism before dying at 27. Her ideas are so central that we’ve lost sight of her... more »


May 17, 2017 | Laura Kipnis goes in search of that rare thing, a memoir of midlife with no epiphanies and no life lessons. Nothing’s figured out and nothing gets better ... more »


May 16, 2017 | Though seen as titans of the literary left, Jameson, Eagleton, and Raymond Williams were more concerned with scholarship than with social intervention. Do they belong to the right?... more »


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