Dec. 11, 2018 | Students trained to speak in a rarefied lexicon, vying for professors’ approval, competing for a few, unstable jobs: "The M.F.A. is graduate school in a funhouse mirror"... more »

Dec. 10, 2018 | Philip Larkin wrote 4,000 letters home, some masterpieces of curmudgeonly comedy. But over time, his ample gift hardened from playfulness into habit... more »

Dec. 8, 2018 | Writing weakens the intellect, or so claimed Socrates. Despite this, two new books set out to rehabilitate classical philosophy... more »

Dec. 7, 2018 | Philip Johnson wasn't a casual Nazi. He was very Nazi — the sort who insisted on reading Mein Kampf in the original German... more »

Dec. 6, 2018 | “Was I a man or was I a jerk?” Saul Bellow inquired on his deathbed. The answer was both... more »

Dec. 5, 2018 | Lord Byron was “dangerous to know” and “irritable to the point of mental disease.” The women in his life responded accordingly.... more »

Dec. 4, 2018 | To understand the semiotics of sleep, consider its opposite. Insomnia feels like collage, like looking at the world atilt... more »

Dec. 3, 2018 | "The internet hasn’t so much changed people’s relationship to news," says James Meek, "as altered their self-awareness in the act of reading it"... more »

Dec. 1, 2018 | Toward the end of his life, René Girard’s views darkened. “More than ever, I am convinced that history has meaning,” he wrote. “Its meaning is terrifying”... more »

Nov. 30, 2018 | The African Middle Ages were fascinating, but the era’s structures have largely disappeared — a consequence of mosques built of coral; palaces made from grass; whole towns built of salt... more »

Nov. 29, 2018 | Read Lucia Berlin and you’ll think: “Here is a woman who really knows what it’s like to vomit.” Patricia Lockwood explains... more »

Nov. 28, 2018 | “What’s a hundred years?” asks John McPhee. “Nothing. And everything.” His quiet, meticulous writing style was built to last... more »

Nov. 27, 2018 | The modern world teems with beliefs in astrology, paranormality, and demonic possession. But that isn't evidence we've left the Enlightenment’s legacy unfulfilled... more »

Nov. 26, 2018 | Edward Gorey created his modern Gothic aesthetic with one self-described aim: "make everybody as uneasy as possible." He was uniquely successful... more »

Nov. 24, 2018 | The hawking of Stephen Hawking has not ceased with his death. "The final book" would have benefited from a little more editing and a little less marketing... more »

Nov. 23, 2018 | Atheism needs theistic ideas to give it life. “Some of the most radical forms of atheism,” says John Gray, are indistinguishable from “some mystical varieties of religion”... more »

Nov. 22, 2018 | Claude Debussy's seeming aimlessness kept him in financial peril. It also afforded him the time to write La Mer, Pelléas et Mélisande, and exquisite chamber music... more »

Nov. 21, 2018 | In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would give rise to a 15-hour workweek. Instead it gave rise to pointless work... more »

Nov. 20, 2018 | Taciturn, discreet, undemonstrative, Fryderyk Chopin, that frail, tubercular Pole, was comfortable only at the piano... more »

Nov. 19, 2018 | “In a few years I can be top-flight painter if I want.” So said Jack Kerouac in 1956. Was his work really that good?... more »

Nov. 17, 2018 | About 4.5 billion years ago, Earth was born. Not long after, life emerged. Was it an inevitability of the laws of nature?... more »

Nov. 16, 2018 | Remembered for serene portraits, Félix Nadar lived a frenetic life. He was first to photograph underground and from the air, and was possibly the inventor of airmail... more »

Nov. 15, 2018 | The bedroom, a place of love and of death, seduces us. Unfortunately, a new "intimate history" does not... more »

Nov. 14, 2018 | What caused Nietzsche’s insanity? The usual theories — syphilis, seeing a horse being whipped — don’t hold up... more »

Nov. 13, 2018 | Automata of antiquity. Mythic Crete was the Silicon Valley of the ancient world, home of the cryptic maze, manned flight, self-guided arrows... more »

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