May 28, 2016 | When T.S. Eliot’s writing was good, it was very, very good. When it was bad, it neared horrid. Cue the snobbery, the schoolboy nastiness, the racism... more »


May 27, 2016 | Poets and their birthdays. An annual excuse for mopey and rueful words: It's their party and they’ll cry if they want to. And poets want to... more »


May 26, 2016 | Reading Edward Said in a warming world. The critic had no time for tree-huggers, who he felt lacked a proper cause. But tree-huggers should make time for Said... more »


May 25, 2016 | Edgar Allan Poe and his admirers. Baudelaire revered him, as did Tennyson, Hardy, and Yeats. Edmund Wilson thought him the finest critic America ever produced... more »


May 24, 2016 | Speak, butterfly. How the intricate structures of Pnin, Lolita, and Pale Fire were inspired by Nabokov's dissections of butterfly genitalia... more »


May 23, 2016 | Every day about 300 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook. An estimated 204 million emails are sent every minute. How do we decide what to keep?... more »


May 21, 2016 | The art of suffering. In private, Edith Piaf was a practical joker. On stage, she personified deprivation, pain, loss -- and she never broke character... more »


May 20, 2016 | Toxic adverbs! Prose today is polluted by them. They are an abomination, evidence of dullness in the choice of verbs and adjectives... more »


May 19, 2016 | English departments are always in search of the next big theory -- structuralism, ecocriticism, evolutionary criticism. Now it's digital humanities... more »


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 »


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