March 1, 2016 | The reality hunger of Henry James. Misunderstood as a literary traditionalist, he wrote autobiographies that anticipated Knausgaard... more »


Feb. 29, 2016 | Why, above other pugilists, does Muhammad Ali remain the focus of so much literary attention? His moral ambiguity makes him an ideal muse... more »


Feb. 27, 2016 | Liberal democracy has triumphed over Soviet-style communism, authoritarian capitalism, and fascism. But another threat looms: Martin Heidegger... more »


Feb. 26, 2016 | Remembering is a creative process. When we offload our memories to digital devices, do we forsake our own experiences and personal fictions?... more »


Feb. 25, 2016 | What writers and spies have in common: isolation, loss of perspective, grandiosity, alcoholism, and a willingness to lie and call it something else... more »


Feb. 24, 2016 | Habit prophecy - think Montaigne and Benjamin Franklin - was once a form of ethical inquiry. Now - think Stephen Covey - the genre has devolved into self-help... more »


Feb. 23, 2016 | The academy’s relationship to art and criticism is tenuous. The university is a source of patronage, though purchased at considerable risk... more »


Feb. 22, 2016 | Is the universe governed by cause and effect? Depends on the physics of Walther Ritz, the theorist who made Einstein look like a “lazy dog”... more »


Feb. 20, 2016 | There's bullshit and then there's bullshit in science: arguments, data, articles that have a veneer of truth and seem plausible, but aren't... more »


Feb. 19, 2016 | A sinister parasite on the work of Stravinsky, or a musical genius in his own right? The shady, irascible, exceptionally talented Robert Craft... more »


Feb. 18, 2016 | How to distinguish good sex writing from pornography? Both require a dirty mind, but the former demands exactitude, daring, and cleverness... more »


Feb. 17, 2016 | Criticism of technology cites design tweaks and economic analyses. To grasp the stakes, we need Gnosticism and Greek tragedy... more »


Feb. 16, 2016 | Hemingway's published prose is muscular, energetic, lean, straightforward, his stories vivid and arresting. His letters are just plain dull... more »


Feb. 15, 2016 | Beware the ex-believer, the heretic, the zealous ideological convert. How their hothouse style shaped American politics... more »


Feb. 13, 2016 | To get inside the head of Shostakovich, a rampant musical individualist, should we turn to the realism of history or the imaginative offerings of fiction?... more »


Feb. 12, 2016 | In which a critic reacts to a book with such intense antipathy that he decides he must meet the author. "I wanted to understand who he is and why he wrote this”... more »


Feb. 11, 2016 | What makes “professional critics” professional? Life in the prose factory, it seems, is full of self-importance, resentment, and desperation... more »


Feb. 10, 2016 | With an army of Dadaists, nudists, and drug addicts, the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio attempted to liberate the city of Fiume. Things quickly devolved... more »


Feb. 9, 2016 | Authenticity and art. When it’s possible to create visually perfect reproductions of famous works, will we discard the originals, or celebrate them anew?... more »


Feb. 8, 2016 | On the wall behind Gore Vidal's desk were 20 or so framed magazine covers with his face on each one. At work, he said, “I like to be reminded who I am”... more »


Feb. 6, 2016 | Proust was among the first to recognize that the shock of air travel wasn’t technological but intellectual: a new way of processing the world, a new habit of mind... more »


Feb. 5, 2016 | Have we moved beyond Adam Smith and Jean-Jacques Rousseau? No, and nor should we. Their 18th-century debates are still our debates ... more »


Feb. 4, 2016 | War and Peace helped establish historical fiction but left open the genre's quandary: What's the right balance between history and fiction?... more »


Feb. 3, 2016 | Infinite Jest is 20 years old and shows its age. So why does the novel still feel so electrically alive? A few theories... more »


Feb. 2, 2016 | The identity museum has become so pervasive, its rules so rigid, that it's almost never commented upon. Then there are Jewish museums... more »


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