Aug. 24, 2015 | The utilitarian beauty of Kingsley Amis. His short stories — “chips from a novelist’s work-bench” — were constructed from well-observed fact... more »


Aug. 22, 2015 | The tchotchkefied writer: H.P. Lovecraft has inspired board games, phone cases, thongs, podcasts, even a bar. Pretty good for an artist unappreciated in his own time... more »


Aug. 21, 2015 | The tattered tradition of summer reading: Once it was an exercise in middlebrow art, in the importance of leisure, in ambitious edification... more »


Aug. 20, 2015 | The myth of the melancholy genius. Montaigne, van Gogh, David Foster Wallace: Society celebrates the aesthetic insights of depression. But take a closer look... more »


Aug. 19, 2015 | Is there a place for courage, contemplation, and compassion in a culture of debunking realism? Such a question is in danger of dropping off the map of human inquiry... more »


Aug. 18, 2015 | For Montaigne, the three finest things in life are friendship, sex, and reading. The best? Reading. Your friend may die, your sexual partner may betray you, but literature is always there... more »


Aug. 17, 2015 | When censorship becomes a weapon against injustice, when so many are so quick to take offense and so desperate to avoid discomfort, what's the fate of free speech?... more »


Aug. 15, 2015 | Sex, brawls, and litigation. Gore Vidal made intellectual sparring into an art form. His mantra: “Never lose an opportunity to have sex or be on television.”... more »


Aug. 14, 2015 | Poems don't exist to be analyzed. They exist because they are useful in some basic way, says Dana Gioia. "Poetry gave humanity the words to get through life."... more »


Aug. 13, 2015 | Gloriously aloof, unimpeachably cool, Joan Didion was also a passionate foe of feminism, a simmering elitist, the white girl to whom generations of white girls have been drawn... more »


Aug. 12, 2015 | Talk of microaggressions and trigger warnings are all the chatter on college campuses. Chalk it up to the tyranny ofemotional reasoning.”  The result: intellectual homogeneity... more »


Aug. 11, 2015 | Writers get their ideas from dreams, visions, daemons, and of course, other writers. But one thing is constant: the fickleness of literary inspiration... more »


Aug. 10, 2015 | In ancient Greece, remembered tales were transformed into works of literature. But the practice of writing itself got off to a leisurely start... more »


Aug. 8, 2015 | Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Penniless, suicidal, and horrified by sex, he kept her away from London and in bed by 11. Then there was his habit of interrupting her work... more »


Aug. 7, 2015 | The Strunkian aesthetic is rooted in this tension: The Elements of Style is ideology disguised as writerly wisdom... more »


Aug. 6, 2015 | Boredom reveals the finitude and futility of existence. It is excruciating, debilitating, tedious, and essential to a happy life... more »


Aug. 5, 2015 | Ideology began with politics but has gained dominion over a lot more of our lives. No novelist is more attuned to this reality than Jonathan Franzen... more »


Aug. 4, 2015 | The job of writing is more and more about not writing. It is about readings, interviews, conferences, Q&As. A solitary profession has become excruciatingly social ... more »


Aug. 3, 2015 | Biomedical research has been a boon to human well-being. Truly ethical bioethics would get out of the way. Steven Pinker explains... more »


Aug. 1, 2015 | Hateful buildings, brutalist monstrosities, drab concrete towers: Stalinist architecture, once reviled, is now revered. Chalk it up to the rise of Soviet-ruin chic... more »


July 31, 2015 | For all the criticism of Francis Fukuyama, we still inhabit the ideological landscape that he described a quarter-century ago. The end of history hasn’t ended yet... more »


July 30, 2015 | Like confession and therapy, activity trackers reveal us to ourselves: Who are we when we are not paying attention? Sloths, mostly, but sex and sleep can be redeemed if they are tracked properly... more »


July 29, 2015 | Wherever we find philosophy, we find a tension between the pursuit of truth and the promise of a better and more fulfilled life. Both paths will leave you dissatisfied... more »


July 28, 2015 | Somewhere in the fragile space between imaginary and real, mind and world, lie the musical instruments that never were. What does a cat piano sound like?... more »


July 27, 2015 | Picasso, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy had them, as did Leonardo da Vinci, Lenin, and Henry Luce. What did they have? Big brows... more »


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