Nov. 12, 2018 | Difficult books are difficult in different ways. Some are just plain bad. But readability is not always good. The case for difficult books... more »


Nov. 10, 2018 | Calling bullshit has a venerable intellectual pedigree. And why not? Bullshitters get the kudos without the work... more »


Nov. 9, 2018 | Wars of conquest have declined sharply over the past seven decades. Could a treaty signed in 1928 be the cause?... more »


Nov. 8, 2018 | Art, before the age of mechanical reproduction. The four extant original manuscripts of Old English poetry are a reminder of the yawning void of history... more »


Nov. 7, 2018 | When Donald Hall turned 80, he’d stopped writing poetry. He'd lost 60 pounds. He was ill and depressed. Then he rediscovered prose... more »


Nov. 6, 2018 | A golden age of English literature began under a draconian monarchy. For Thomas Wyatt, this meant collaborating with — and falling victim to — tyrants... more »


Nov. 5, 2018 | The whitewashing of antiquity. Fascists have long looked to the ancient world as a source of ideology and pride. They are abetted by a generation of scholars... more »


Nov. 3, 2018 | Francis Perey’s eureka moment had come. Unfortunately, the physicist’s landmark paper was “maddeningly repetitious philosophical froth”... more »


Nov. 2, 2018 | Who would have thought that n+1, largely founded by men, would in time become the world’s least boring journal of feminist theory?... more »


Nov. 1, 2018 | The art world is a place of cravenness and tropospheric wealth, beset by toxic rot and junkie-like behavior. Yet it can still produce good work... more »


Oct. 31, 2018 | Beyond dark and stormy nights. Gothic literature is more than candles and curses. Its chief concerns are terror, the sublime, and the uncanny... more »


Oct. 30, 2018 | True artistic freedom comes from not caring about quality, métier, or meaning. Magritte found it when he set those all aside to make a joke... more »


Oct. 29, 2018 | Claude Debussy, a "very, very strange man," was an acutely literary composer. His music, heavily influenced by poetry, is easy to love but hard to explain... more »


Oct. 27, 2018 | The Swedish Academy’s decision to take a year off from awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature brings to a close more than a century of foolishness... more »


Oct. 25, 2018 | The workings of the multimillion-dollar machine that publishes academic journals are complex. They're also implausible and outrageous... more »


Oct. 24, 2018 | The opponents of political correctness are not a pitiable collection of angry old white men. They are people of all ages and all colors protective of their liberties... more »


Oct. 23, 2018 | “He was a boy raised on a river.” Is there anything new to say about Mark Twain? In a slew of new books, scholars try and fail... more »


Oct. 22, 2018 | An orthodoxy has taken hold of intellectual, cultural, and academic life. Its hallmarks: moral preening, lazy attitudinizing, and grim-faced virtue-signaling. The remedy: Marxists against wokeness... more »


Oct. 20, 2018 | "The university has nurtured many partisan causes to which its members can devote themselves, but there seem to be few partisans of the university itself left"... more »


Oct. 19, 2018 | What happens when our writers and thinkers express themselves through Facebook instead of on the page? Imagine Herzog in the era of the status update... more »


Oct. 18, 2018 | Precision "pervades our lives entirely, comprehensively, wholly," says Simon Winchester. But does the abstract concept have a precise history? Yes. It begins in 1776... more »


Oct. 17, 2018 | The pernicious social dynamics of the internet. We overshare about our personal lives and fail to understand those of others. Narcissism spreads; empathy vanishes... more »


Oct. 16, 2018 | What is the point of a bookish life? It's not to become knowledgeable or clever, and certainly not to become learned. It is to become wiser... more »


Oct. 15, 2018 | When his aged father and newborn son died within a few years of each other, William James took an interest in "ghosts and clairvoyances and raps and messages from spirits"... more »


Oct. 13, 2018 | Women do the lion’s share of the book reading, editing, agenting, and buying. Still, we live in a literary culture that ignores women... more »


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