Jan. 25, 2020 | “I’ve got a writer’s block as big as the Ritz and as stubborn as a grease stain on a gabardine suit,” admitted Ralph Ellison. It was “like a bad case of constipation”... more »


Jan. 24, 2020 | Getting rid of the king was easy for Oliver Cromwell. Harder was what followed: governing as a dangerously ill-defined “Lord Protector”... more »


Jan. 23, 2020 | “My work is original not only in fact but in spiritual fiber.” Frank Lloyd Wright may have been a genius, but his character was appalling... more »


Jan. 22, 2020 | "Robert Lowell’s poems are at their most unsettling when they disclose his own moral recklessness, offering only themselves — the fact of art — as recompense"... more »


Jan. 21, 2020 | Wendell Berry is probably the best-known and most influential antimodernist alive. His prose is splendid. His political strategy is disastrous... more »


Jan. 20, 2020 | Ivan Turgenev and the birth of cosmopolitan Europe. The Russian-born, German-educated novelist was a one-man impresario of Continental culture... more »


Jan. 18, 2020 | Women writers struggled throughout the 20th century to be taken seriously. To an unusual degree, that struggle played out in London's Mecklenburgh Square... more »


Jan. 17, 2020 | There’s much to loathe about Silicon Valley. So why do even its critics have a hard time indicting it?... more »


Jan. 16, 2020 | How many children did Lady Macbeth have? To read fictional characters as “real” can be a balm for the soul — or an exercise in the absurd... more »


Jan. 15, 2020 | James Wood’s work is stately and professorial, full of close readings. Then there’s the hackwork he wrote under a pseudonym... more »


Jan. 14, 2020 | Randolph Bourne had no time for the well-to-do. His tribe was “the incompetent and the ugly, the queer and crotchety”... more »


Jan. 13, 2020 | Where Greta Garbo discussed how to play Hamlet; Charlie Chaplin discovered his musical ghostwriter; and Arnold Schoenberg chatted with Arthur Rubinstein... more »


Jan. 11, 2020 | From fleuron to frontispiece, the history of book design is odd and fascinating. Who knew that the dust jacket was invented in 1829, or that the epigraph has architectural origins?... more »


Jan. 10, 2020 | Much about Rembrandt is known. But not this: How a miller’s son from a provincial Dutch city became one of the most famous painters in the world... more »


Jan. 9, 2020 | An ironist in a literal time, Malcolm Gladwell takes unending flak from scientists and the self-serious, who miss that he’s OK with being wrong... more »


Jan. 8, 2020 | For Mel Brooks, excess was always the point. His comedy has a manic vitality. In private, however, he's deadpan, sullen, without personality... more »


Jan. 7, 2020 | When Gustav Klimt propositioned Alma Schindler, she quoted from Faust: “Do no favors without a ring on your finger”... more »


Jan. 6, 2020 | Melville became a poet after a decade of writing fiction. It was a midlife turn he pursued with great frustration... more »


Jan. 4, 2020 | “An orderly anarchy of words.” Can a new book accomplish the nigh-impossible: making learning Greek seem sexy?... more »


Jan. 3, 2020 | Richard Feynman in 1964: “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." That remains more or less true... more »


Jan. 2, 2020 | Existentialism in the ring. After Gordon Marino found no success as a boxer, Kierkegaard’s works led him back to philosophy — and saved his life... more »


Jan. 1, 2020 | An unpopular color. How did yellow shed its pleasing associations with light and life and come to suggest something more sinister?... more »


Dec. 31, 2019 | As an essayist, D.H. Lawrence could produce something brilliant on almost any topic. Consider his tour-de-force “Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine”... more »


Dec. 30, 2019 | Architecture has adopted an “International Style” of featureless walls, horizontal windows, concrete, and metal. One problem: It’s horribly unsuited to human beings... more »


Dec. 28, 2019 | Unesco was created to support the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.” Who could be against that? Many people, as it turns out... more »


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