May 18, 2016 | Virginia Woolf thought the Brontës' social isolation — not to mention their knitting and piano playing — enfeebled their true genius. The opposite is closer to the truth... more »


May 17, 2016 | To see Shakespeare performed live is to confront language opaque to a degree that no skilled actor can remediate. For some reason we tolerate this and call it a “poetic” experience... more »


May 16, 2016 | Allegory first appeared in the waning years of the Roman Empire. It is a rich and wonderful literary tradition. And it's being ruined.... more »


May 14, 2016 | Utopian ideas about nature go one of two ways: nature catering to human desire or nature transforming human desire. Where does the Anthropocene fit? ... more »


May 13, 2016 | Oceans “brim,” skies “bleed” -- fiction is inundated with descriptive language. But below the surface, is the spirit of literature being lost? Will it vanish altogether?... more »


May 12, 2016 | Christopher Hitchens was no admirer of Isaiah Berlin. But the preservation of liberty depends on both types of men: Hitchens for his courage, Berlin for his tolerance... more »


May 11, 2016 | Maybe you discovered Jane Austen in your teens. Reread her and you may find that your feelings have changed. The novels are no less addictive, but they are less romantic... more »


May 10, 2016 | In the 1960s, free speech was a weapon of the left against the right. Now campus leftists endorse the suppression of ideas. What happened?... more »


May 9, 2016 | When it comes to talking about sex, we need fewer lessons and more stories – especially more inventive sex writing by women... more »


May 7, 2016 | Philosophers once needed books, writing tools, and perhaps a glass of sherry. Now they think with the Internet. Cognition itself is connected to the web... more »


May 6, 2016 | Yes, fitness clubs can be dehumanizing orgies of exhibitionism and self-regard. But intellectual scorn for exercise misunderstands why we work out... more »


May 5, 2016 | Sincerity and irony in art. What can beatniks, punks, and hipsters teach us about commitment, both aesthetic and political?... more »


May 4, 2016 | The value of simplicity and complexity in art is a matter of taste. In science, the search for simple theories is a requirement. But is simpler better?... more »


May 3, 2016 | When black intellectuals interpret black life for white audiences, the question of racial authenticity arises. What is authentic black knowledge?... more »


May 2, 2016 | Nationalism is back, along with a politics of grievance, belligerence, and isolation. It's a moment for Benedict Anderson, who diagnosed nationalism’s insurgent appeal... more »


April 30, 2016 | Chernobyl, the novel. How an airborne toxic event came to represent postmodernism. A story of alienation and technological hubris... more »


April 29, 2016 | Why is a 17th-century Portuguese-Jewish philosopher, a writer of dense and opaque prose, so popular? Spinoza is a heretic for our times... more »


April 28, 2016 | Contemporary poets speak only for themselves, while the poets of yore spoke for everyone. So goes one eternal critique of poetry − wrong, of course... more »


April 27, 2016 | Alec Ross went to Washington and became an important man thinking important thoughts. Adviser to the president, influencer, visionary, example of futurism at its laziest... more »


April 26, 2016 | Time eludes our understanding, defeating both philosophers and physicists in their attempts to pin it down. Does time even exist?... more »


April 25, 2016 | Why do some writers abandon their native language and adopt another? Politics, idealism, and internationalism all play a part. Opportunism, too... more »


April 23, 2016 | Essays convey observations and emotions, experiences unique to the writer. So what is the essayist’s obligation to fact?... more »


April 22, 2016 | Philosophy has been overrun by Kant and by moralistic rules. We need a version that appeals to people — we need a return to Hume... more »


April 21, 2016 | “A thing” has become a thing, as in “Is that actually a thing?” Sure, it's an irksome linguistic trend. But it fills a real need... more »


April 20, 2016 | The critic in the mood to confess. Here a personal anecdote, there a self-deprecating aside, a pose of endearing amateurism. Enough!... more »


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