Feb. 26, 2018 | According to Will Self, novels are a jungle gym for the mind. So choose challenging texts: “No one ever got smart by reading … Dan Brown”... more »


Feb. 24, 2018 | A taxonomy of unfinished novels. Common causes include writer’s block and death. Then there are those works whose unfinishability is an aesthetic virtue... more »


Feb. 23, 2018 | The history of anti-literature: Whether Plato's denouncing literary fantasy or Oscar Wilde's labeling art useless, they are unintentional tributes... more »


Feb. 22, 2018 | A well-intentioned culture of positivity has pervaded contemporary book reviewing. The result? Advertisement-style frippery. Bring back the hatchet job... more »


Feb. 21, 2018 | The awfulness of pop culture. It promises to deliver pleasure — then fails. It suggests aesthetic freedom — but is only a mirage. Or so thought Adorno... more »


Feb. 20, 2018 | Marcuse for the new millennium. The philosopher’s insights into automation are key to understanding our work-obsessed age: Busyness makes us bad thinkers... more »


Feb. 19, 2018 | In Egypt, Flaubert grew ““ignobly plump,” took in striptease shows, and was dazzled by the country's colors. The color eau de Nil stems from such Egyptomania... more »


Feb. 17, 2018 | Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Mailer, Carver, Lish: the literary sections of magazines like Esquire and GQ were, for decades, a cult of maleness. Are they still?... more »


Feb. 16, 2018 | “Every passion, ultimately, has its spectator," wrote Barthes. That is especially true, Leslie Jamison explains, at Croatia’s Museum of Broken Relationships... more »


Feb. 15, 2018 | Lunch at the White House, parties with celebrities, hangouts with plutocrats in Aspen. Will Ta-Nehisi Coates’s proximity to power distort his perspective?... more »


Feb. 14, 2018 | Steven Pinker may be the most optimistic man in America. But his optimism curdles into despair at the way science is treated on many campuses... more »


Feb. 13, 2018 | Louis-Ferdinand Céline became famous suddenly and infamous soon after. Can we distinguish “good” Céline, the novelist, from “bad” Céline, the anti-Semitic pamphleteer?... more »


Feb. 12, 2018 | Publishing is an upper-class industry that attracts upper-class writers. This social and cultural sliver has a profound impact on whose stories get told... more »


Feb. 10, 2018 | Why do art collectors collect? To establish political legitimacy, to claim aristocratic roots, for tax write-offs — the reasons are as varied as the collectors... more »


Feb. 9, 2018 | Zadie Smith has been ordained a public intellectual, adopted the attendant seriousness, and learned a lesson: Middle age is no fun... more »


Feb. 8, 2018 | Depravity makes for bad art, but not always. It's a mistake to apply norms of social respectability to artistic expression. That way leads to moralistic kitsch... more »


Feb. 7, 2018 | Ready-mades before Duchamp, Cy Twombly-esque scribblings 40 years before his heyday. The work of mentally ill artists reveals their bold originality... more »


Feb. 6, 2018 | The strangely contested legacy of Antonio Gramsci. His thought is championed in the pages of Marxism Today and by pundits on the far right — why?... more »


Feb. 5, 2018 | For years, women only whispered about sexual harassment, for fear of reprisal from men. Now they fear other women. Katie Roiphe on the chilling effect of the new feminist orthodoxy... more »


Feb. 3, 2018 | Renata Adler, Lorin Stein, and Ann Coulter were there. Steve Bannon was not. Wine, whiskey, water, but no one drank much. Michael Wolff's book party... more »


Feb. 2, 2018 | Innocence and guilt are legal standards. When we talk about Woody Allen, we deal with murkier issues. A.O. Scott on what most troubles him... more »


Feb. 1, 2018 | Fear that democracy in the West is in terminal decline is understandable. But the argument that democracies die when they become too democratic is not. Sheri Berman explains... more »


Jan. 31, 2018 | The human brain is a kind of machine, but don’t expect machine learning to understand language anytime soon. For example: Google Translate... more »


Jan. 30, 2018 | Paul Robeson was a deeply political figure; his endorsement of Stalin is the tragedy of his life. But it's a mistake to twist every action into a political statement... more »


Jan. 29, 2018 | Rongorongo is the only script native to the Pacific. It resembles no other writing system on earth. In fact, it was not written but carved. And no one has been able to decipher it... more »


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