June 18, 2018 | Attempts to justify the humanities are, too often, self-congratulatory fantasy: I read better books, so I’m a better person. Stanley Fish has read the best books. He's not a better person... more »


June 16, 2018 | The gazillion books and articles, the conferences, symposia, and reading groups — all a waste of time? A scholar breaks up with James Joyce ... more »


June 15, 2018 | Anthony Domestico had been a book critic for seven years when he realized that no editor had ever asked him to review a female author. He thinks of two possible explanations... more »


June 14, 2018 | With Couples, John Updike brought “down-and-dirty sex" into the literary mainstream. Fifty years later, the novel seems less about sex than about loneliness... more »


June 13, 2018 | The metaphysics of water. Lakes, river, the ocean — they spur us to reckon with the immense and the unknown, to confront life’s fluidity.... more »


June 12, 2018 | Paul Gauguin abandoned Paris and his wife and children to paint in Tahiti. Does his artistic brilliance justify the moral cost?... more »


June 11, 2018 | Maybe we really have lost the vocabulary for talking about death, depending instead on euphemism, lies, and ambiguity. But there was never a time when we did death well... more »


June 9, 2018 | “There are no easy solutions. And yet a principled compromise is possible.” Yascha Mounk wants to save liberal democracy — but is mature reasonableness the path forward?... more »


June 8, 2018 | Robert Penn Warren and William Faulkner promoted a distinct ideology of the South. For black Southern intellectuals, things weren’t so straightforward... more »


June 7, 2018 | "Every truth becomes false when you take it to its extreme," says David Brooks. Affluence, for example: "People take money and translate it into loneliness"... more »


June 6, 2018 | Modern life has deprived us of mystical rites, epiphanies, and inward reflection. Could the key to regaining such missing illumination be psychedelics?... more »


June 5, 2018 | Gullibility is alive and well among us. Consider the intellectual rot at the foundations of physics. Or the persistent popularity of anti-rationalism... more »


June 4, 2018 | Cumberland Clark was a Shakespeare scholar, a serious writer and critic, and no fool. Yet he's also the author of reams of ludicrous doggerel. Is he the second-worst poet in English?... more »


June 2, 2018 | Goldman Sachs has been depicted as the central villain of the Great Recession. Yet little has been said about its most egregious sin: the lobby art... more »


June 1, 2018 | Jordan Peterson is many things, most notably an archetypal victim and beneficiary of our polarized times. One thing he is not: a dangerous far-right radical... more »


May 31, 2018 | Cheating and drinking and child-raising and defying the prevailing fantasies of a woman’s place: Country music is the soundtrack of American domesticity... more »


May 30, 2018 | “Past results are no guarantee of future performance, yet in book publishing they are pretty damn reliable.” Is a minor writer destined to a career of mediocrity?... more »


May 29, 2018 | As a teenager, Reynaldo Hahn composed hymns to love and sang in Parisian salons. An affair with Proust, who called him “Mon petit Reynaldo,” followed... more »


May 28, 2018 | Jordan Peterson has much to say about masculine despair. But he offers no antidote, instead trying to make men feel better while failing to address the problems: misogyny and racism... more »


May 26, 2018 | Heinrich Heine was neither deep nor strikingly original, and he did little to advance the intellectual debates of his time. What made him a major figure was his indomitable spirit... more »


May 25, 2018 | A work of art can be incisive, beautiful, discomfiting, or representative, but not necessary. So why do critics keep using that word?... more »


May 24, 2018 | Leonardo and the riddle of authentication. His works have resurfaced with surprising frequency. Can an expert eye really detect when it's the real thing?... more »


May 23, 2018 | “Performance art” once involved raucous Dadaists; now it’s a Lady Gaga performance or Kanye West tweet. Why have pop stars started dealing in high-concept abstractions?... more »


May 22, 2018 | In higher education, the ubiquity of innovation-speak masks a dearth of actual innovation. The latest fad: design thinking. It's a boondoggle... more »


May 21, 2018 | When erotic misadventures and poetry became tiresome for Byron, he turned to military command, with 600 Greek troops and an audacious plan. Fiasco followed... more »


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