Aug. 10, 2020 | Described as a “monk and ragamuffin,” Francis Poulenc was a composer who melded the incompatible... more »


Aug. 8, 2020 | In 1774, Catherine the Great ordered a piano from England. How did these instruments of affluence end up in Siberia?... more »


Aug. 7, 2020 | What decided the outcome of World War II? First consider the strategic delusions that afflicted Mussolini and Hitler... more »


Aug. 6, 2020 | The lure of literary reviewing. For Frank Kermode, the trouble was that once you start, you can't stop... more »


Aug. 5, 2020 | Pity the author whose book was reviewed by Jenny Diski. Her first response was to be incredulous that the work even existed... more »


Aug. 4, 2020 | Literature permits us not only to work out what we believe, but also to reflect on the nature of belief itself... more »


Aug. 3, 2020 | To be close to Stalin was to risk death. What's it like to have been in his inner circle and survived?... more »


Aug. 1, 2020 | Vivian Gornick never tired of asking the same questions or revisiting the same books. There is power in loitering on well-trod ground... more »


July 31, 2020 | Who needs a worldview? For Raymond Geuss, unified visions and conceptions of truth lead us astray. Instead, we should be pragmatic... more »


July 30, 2020 | The first generation of charismatic leaders. From the start, democracy internalized a new form of Caesarist temptation... more »


July 29, 2020 | To think like Shakespeare, enter the Elizabethan classroom, where curiosity, intellectual agility, and rhetorical felicity were paramount... more »


July 28, 2020 | Meet the Mozarts. Their collective outings were grim and their correspondence scatological. And yet the family was gloriously alive... more »


July 27, 2020 | The first modern philosopher. Kierkegaard's "massive oeuvre can be read as one long, compulsive, maddening attempt to understand who he was"... more »


July 25, 2020 | What's college for? According to Zena Hitz, "much of what counts as education in the contemporary scene is the cultivation of correct opinions"... more »


July 24, 2020 | Andy Warhol's artistic legacy is secure, in part because he recognized the durability of cynicism. Nihilism never goes out of fashion... more »


July 23, 2020 | In the quixotic nature of writing — a craft that gently drives its practitioners mad — lies the reason it matters so much... more »


July 22, 2020 | The Churchills were famously terrible employers — Winston's wandering around naked didn’t help. Many a cook and kitchen maid left in tears; one reputedly went mad... more »


July 21, 2020 | “No serious Black intellectual today thinks anti-Black racism is not a matter of life and death. The question is still the old one: What is to be done?”... more »


July 20, 2020 | What to make of Wordsworth? For every line of his that intones the still, sad music of humanity, another drones the shrill, mad music of inanity... more »


July 18, 2020 | Charles Péguy was neither a modernist nor an antimodernist. Rather, he was something quite distinctive, instructive, and relevant to our times: an amodernist... more »


July 17, 2020 | Believing falsehoods is one problem; not knowing the truth is another. To understand our moment, we must understand the anatomy of knowledge and ignorance... more »


July 16, 2020 | In Martin Hägglund’s worldview, socialism is spiritual. But does that deepen our understanding of politics or distract from it?... more »


July 15, 2020 | The last of the Enlightenment intellectuals. John Maynard Keynes pursued political theory, economics, and ethics as a unified design... more »


July 14, 2020 | The business of being Beethoven. How to find a venue, how to get a score published, how much tickets should cost, how to attract rich sponsors, how to promote himself... more »


July 13, 2020 | At his best, T.S. Eliot said a lot by saying relatively little. Unfortunately, he was not always — or even often — at his best... more »


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