April 17, 2017 | When Empson went East. The literary critic, booted from Cambridge after condoms were discovered in his room, left for Japan and China. It was a professional calamity that proved fortunate ... more »

April 15, 2017 | Against celebrity profiles. They’re manufactured, devoid of connection between subject and writer, and fail to reveal the self-delusions and rationalizations that make people interesting... more »

April 14, 2017 | What makes a critical judgment true? It's a question that preoccupied T.S. Eliot, whose case for the proper function of criticism is brilliant, angry, and unsatisfying... more »

April 13, 2017 | "We’re in a culture with very few real friends, and an enormous number of unctuous sales people who will adopt the language of friendship, care and help.” Mark Greif on our dishonest times... more »

April 12, 2017 | The marketplace of ideas is now the Ideas Industry. This has empowered "Thought Leaders" and undermined public intellectuals... more »

April 11, 2017 | “Dead of the world, unite!” urged the Russian school of cosmism in the 1920’s. How dissimilar is today’s refrain from Silicon Valley: “Immortality now!”?... more »

April 10, 2017 | In 1961, a Vienesse bibliophile purchased a mysterious text for $24,500. The Voynich Manuscript remains an enigma. It isn't a modern forgery, but it may be a medieval hoax... more »

April 8, 2017 | Long ago the ideas of equality and a common humanity were unthinkable; today they are the default position of almost all of us. How did that happen?... more »

April 7, 2017 | Is style ancillary to an artist’s genius or fundamental to it? Consider Georgia O’Keeffe’s silk dresses, blouses, shoes, along with her self-crafted persona... more »

April 6, 2017 | The writing of John Berger can seem kitschy, deluded, masculinist, creepy. But in his strangeness were kindness and sincerity. He sought above all to help us see more clearly... more »

April 5, 2017 | How to think like a philosopher: Consider contrary cases, test grandiose claims with extreme examples, accept that it’s rare to prove anything conclusively... more »

April 4, 2017 | Freud envisioned civilization’s advances bringing not happiness but unassuaged guilt. That's one explanation for the prestige of victims in the contemporary world... more »

April 3, 2017 | Granta asks, Is travel writing dead? Silly question, says Geoff Dyer. Dickens, Dickinson, and Dillard can all be placed in the genre. What writing isn’t travel writing?... more »

April 1, 2017 | Darwin worked a few hours a day. Trollope wrote only between 5 to 8 a.m. — and published 47 novels. They weren't accomplished despite their leisurely schedules; they were accomplished because of them... more »

March 31, 2017 | Picture your ideal cultural critics. Can they weigh in on poetry, film, literature? Speak multiple languages? Write with wit and a political edge? Didn’t think so... more »

March 30, 2017 | Pick a topic, say traveling while being frugal and worshipful. There's a podcast about that; it's called "Hobo for Christ." Podcasts tend to be specialized. That's the problem... more »

March 29, 2017 | Long before he encountered Marx, Lenin was radicalized by literature. He read Shakespeare, Goethe, and Pushkin aloud. He was hostile to the avant-garde... more »

March 28, 2017 | Writers have long been envious of the visual language of painters. Yet “We don’t read Maupassant for the colors, or Zola for the lighting,” says Julian Barnes... more »

March 27, 2017 | The End of History is among the best known and least understood books of the past 25 years. Far from disproven, Francis Fukuyama deserves credit for his clairvoyance... more »

March 25, 2017 | The difficulty of Cy Twombly’s literariness. His work is about sentiment, not ideas -- and yet Romantic poetry and classical texts often populate his work... more »

March 24, 2017 | "The desire to cleanse the campus of dissident voices has become something of a mission," says Robert Boyers. Shaming, scapegoating, and periodic ritual exorcisms are prime features of academic life... more »

March 23, 2017 | "Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight. It is the only real weapon we have against power, too." Michelle Dean on why paying attention is a moral obligation... more »

March 22, 2017 | A libertine, but so much more. Casanova was an actor, an outcast, a priest, a gambler, and a common man passing as (and sleeping with) the aristocracy... more »

March 21, 2017 | Deconstruction: a detective story. A new play about Paul de Man shows how something monstrous can begin as a cavalier disregard for truth ... more »

March 20, 2017 | Where do novelists go when reality overtakes their absurdist visions? They escape into the past, into mythology. But the past can't adequately account for the present... more »

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