Dec. 27, 2018 | Although he played up his eccentricities in public, Edward Gorey was a shy, private man who took perverse pride in the dullness of his own existence... more »


Dec. 26, 2018 | Einstein's "God Letter" is by reputation a definitive statement from a renowned genius. It isn't. It's an artful declaration of a conventional belief... more »


Dec. 25, 2018 | The fifth-century British writer Pelagius was trounced in his debate with Augustine, dismissed as a “huge, bloated Alpine dog, weighed down with Scottish oats.” Still, Pelagius had the last laugh... more »


Dec. 24, 2018 | Lionel Trilling is an anachronism, though one with much to say about the present moment. He is salient for all the ways he did not think and act like us... more »


Dec. 22, 2018 | What is an aphorism? A record of fleeting, sometimes contradictory, moments of certainty. They don’t cohere, which is part of the fun... more »


Dec. 21, 2018 | Your new iPal is a humanoid robot designed to provide companionship. You face with a new version of an old question: Can a computer have inner subjective experiences?... more »


Dec. 20, 2018 | So you've been shamed. What to do if you've been wrongfully shamed, or rightfully so but want your life back? Helen Andrews knows from experience... more »


Dec. 19, 2018 | Would human extinction be a tragedy? A philosophical investigation reasons that it would, but that it might also leave the world a better place... more »


Dec. 18, 2018 | The culture industry is wrapped in a security blanket of cloying agreeability. Where is the ruthless critique, the anger, the hate?... more »


Dec. 17, 2018 | The Weekly Standard is dead. Let us now praise that witty, quixotic, hectoring, charming, maddening, and smart magazine... more »


Dec. 15, 2018 | Last sentences in novels often invoke the book’s title — or moths (Nabokov); or nautical imagery (Conrad). But the best last lines aren’t endings at all... more »


Dec. 14, 2018 | The shackles of moral perfection. Both utilitarianism and rationalism, embraced fully, create servants. The nonmoral parts of life make us who we are... more »


Dec. 13, 2018 | Should poetry be political? For the longest time, the answer was no. Then came 9/11, and a change in the artistic psyche... more »


Dec. 12, 2018 | Harper Lee’s father was named Amasa but answered to “Atticus Finch.” Does the real-world inspiration for a literary hero merit celebration or condemnation?... more »


Dec. 11, 2018 | Ponderous, posturing, even silly, Hemingway’s fiction becomes more out of fashion every year. So why do we still read it?... more »


Dec. 10, 2018 | Pleasure and expertise. Those who play tennis well or cook well experience a kind of pleasure unavailable to others. Is the same true for those who read well?... more »


Dec. 8, 2018 | “We’re in hot water”; “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”; “a leopard cannot change its spots”: What exactly makes a cliché a cliché?... more »


Dec. 7, 2018 | The story of how a cripplingly shy, often sickly boy became Andy Warhol is also the story of our own antihumanist swerve... more »


Dec. 6, 2018 | “What a complex foamy mixture a couple is,” wrote Elena Ferrante. In our eagerness to uncover her identity, have we erred in assuming she is one person?... more »


Dec. 5, 2018 | Art is a way of contending with life, even in its shadiest corners. But does that cover artists like Egon Schiele, who displayed interest in prepubescent girls?... more »


Dec. 4, 2018 | Should studying literature be fun? Not if you want to be a serious scholar. Thus aesthetic appreciation became the province of nonacademic critics... more »


Dec. 3, 2018 | How did an uncharismatic Oxford medievalist create the most popular adventure story of the 20th century? Tolkien's stories had ideas, not ideology... more »


Dec. 1, 2018 | Want to be an artist? Jerry Saltz has some advice: Know what you hate, scavenge, be delusional, and, of course, accept that you will probably be poor... more »


Nov. 30, 2018 | Besides book blurbs, there are “pre-blurbs” and even “pre-pre-blurbs.” The blurbing industrial complex is out of control and must be destroyed... more »


Nov. 29, 2018 | Selfies, with machinelike monotony, reduce us to predictable characters. Can they become artistic statements, like self-portraits once were?... more »


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