Aug. 16, 2018 | In 1837, Darwin sketched a tree of life: a common ancestor at the trunk, ever-dividing branches leading to new species. Turns out those branches aren't as separate as we thought... more »


Aug. 15, 2018 | More than 800 pre-Gutenberg editions of The Divine Comedy are known to exist. The history of translations and interpretations is long and fractious... more »


Aug. 14, 2018 | The architecture critic Owen Hatherley has announced his last “walking around and looking at things” book. We look forward to his stopping... more »


Aug. 13, 2018 | Pentecostal churches were hellfire preaching, general pandemonium — and music. They were where Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and James Brown learned to move a crowd... more »


Aug. 11, 2018 | How would Aristotle cater a luncheon? What would he say about résumés or global warming? Such tidbits, among other fluff, make up a new book... more »


Aug. 10, 2018 | The trial over The Trial. German scholars argued that Kafka’s manuscripts belonged to Germany; Israeli scholars disagreed. Then things got contentious... more »


Aug. 9, 2018 | Life finds a way — but should it? The de-extinction movement promises to bring back mammoths and dinosaurs. Perhaps this hasn't been adequately thought through... more »


Aug. 8, 2018 | Why did Descartes, a social climber, leave Paris, a city he loved? His life was in danger. Or so says a new biography... more »


Aug. 7, 2018 | A curious fact about the giants of utopian literature: The authors' own lives are far more interesting than those they imagined... more »


Aug. 6, 2018 | “It is a miracle that New York works at all,” wrote E.B. White. “The whole thing is implausible.” Is the city the apotheosis of America or a national outlier? Maybe both... more »


Aug. 4, 2018 | Yuval Noah Harari dwells on big subjects – war, terrorism, nationalism, God. He does so by combining great swaths of padding with observations of crushing banality... more »


Aug. 3, 2018 | Oscar Wilde’s American book tour. He reclined sensuously on a fur rug for publicity stills, mastered the pungent axiom, and faced down rowdy hecklers... more »


Aug. 2, 2018 | For 19th-century British poets, to die in Italy was a guarantee of sanctification. Exhibit A: Oscar Wilde throwing himself on the ground at Keats’s grave... more »


Aug. 1, 2018 | Every generation gets the Emily Brontë it needs. The latest iteration: Proto-feminist who chafed at traditional gender roles; bread-making maven; skilled musician... more »


July 31, 2018 | “Work is a good thing in small doses,” wrote Philip Larkin, who proved an efficient librarian. Today, however, labor often goes hand in hand with soul-crushing misery... more »


July 30, 2018 | In 1948, Hemingway set sail for Europe with more than 30 pieces of luggage and a royal-blue Buick convertible. He was in search of a second act. Improbably, he found it... more »


July 28, 2018 | All utopias are not progressive, and progressive utopias are not liberal. Indeed, as close as liberalism gets to utopia is a society flawed, like our own, but less cruel... more »


July 27, 2018 | Handsome, smart, and devious, George Villiers ascended in King James I’s court. But his rise ended with sexual shenanigans and, it seems, murder... more »


July 26, 2018 | Judith Shklar was a pessimist in an era of triumphalism. At odds with the political philosophy of her own time, her ideas are finally resonating... more »


July 25, 2018 | The prestige of books has declined. But that hasn't dimmed tyrants' longtime desire to collect their dull thoughts between two covers... more »


July 24, 2018 | Time is typically experienced as linear, uniform, and homogeneous. One appeal of books is that they function as time machines... more »


July 23, 2018 | “Bitching Aplenty” could have been the title of Seymour Hersh's memoir. His antics wouldn't be tolerated today. Has journalism deprived itself of genius by depriving itself of depravity?... more »


July 21, 2018 | The "problem of thinking" is a matter of overcoming discomfort, not biases. Thinking deeply is exhausting, and we instinctively avoid ideas that complicate our lives ... more »


July 20, 2018 | Robert Caro’s five-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson will have been published over three decades. The future of the genre, via video, ebook, or podcast, will be quite different... more »


July 19, 2018 | Literary theory is choked with jargon and oracular prose, which makes John Farrell's achievement all the more remarkable... more »


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