March 5, 2021 | High society in interwar England: late nights, hangovers, petty insecurities, ghastly conversation, and fascist sympathies  ... more »


March 4, 2021 | Soviet shame culture. The party constantly invented new mistakes. One could never be free from the risk of humiliation — or worse ... more »


March 3, 2021 | How do we pin down an artist who has meant so many things to so many people? The revolutionary contradictions of Richard Wagner... more »


March 2, 2021 | What can we learn from Philip Roth, master careerist? Lawyer up early, listen to critics while scorning them publicly, sell out whenever possible  ... more »


March 1, 2021 | What Freud got right. According to a new book, his ideas weren’t just ahead of his time — they are ahead of ours  ... more »


Feb. 27, 2021 | At a white-tie ball in 1949, a tipsy Princess Margaret belted out a tune and was greeted by "thunderous booing." It was Francis Bacon... more »


Feb. 26, 2021 | René Girard’s one-liners: Nietzsche was “so wrong that in some ways he’s right”; Sartre was “too even-keeled to become a true genius”... more »


Feb. 25, 2021 | More people than ever are sending photos of themselves naked. The pleasures and perils of the nude selfie... more »


Feb. 24, 2021 | Borges, Le Guin, Daniel Keyes — the best philosophical fiction prickles your conscience and knocks your moral sense askew  ... more »


Feb. 23, 2021 | Pankaj Mishra styles himself an outsider against an irredeemable establishment. But increasingly he finds himself in the mainstream... more »


Feb. 22, 2021 | When the moment calls for buffoonery and slapstick, ribald invective, and comedy that turns on bodily functions, enter Aristophanes... more »


Feb. 20, 2021 | A Romantic-era notion holds that science kills wonder. The work of Alan Lightman only multiplies it... more »


Feb. 19, 2021 | Alan Greenspan wished he’d never spoken of “irrational exuberance”; Thomas Kuhn rued introducing “paradigm shift” — coiner’s remorse is real ... more »


Feb. 18, 2021 | A mammoth new biography of Philip Roth is imminent. Who better to review it than, well, Philip Roth?  ... more »


Feb. 17, 2021 | The legacy of British imperialism is everywhere: Even the word “loot” is appropriated — from the Hindi “lut,” the spoils of war... more »


Feb. 16, 2021 | When it comes to Patricia Highsmith, the question of mental illness, of course, arises. Her personality was interwoven with those of her characters  ... more »


Feb. 15, 2021 | Joan Didion's potency and influence stems for her ability to repurpose an ingrained sense of futility into a tool of critical analysis... more »


Feb. 13, 2021 | To separate science from pseudoscience, it helps to consider the rationales of UFOlogists, Yeti enthusiasts, and yes, anti-vaxxers  ... more »


Feb. 12, 2021 | After residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell, along with a Guggenheim and a MacArthur, Bette Howland never wrote another book  ... more »


Feb. 11, 2021 | Golden age of the cigarette. The war over smoking is too easily cast as one of heroes and villains - in truth things were much messier  ... more »


Feb. 10, 2021 | Acid humor, a flair for pith, a feel for the uncanny — Joan Didion’s talents have been celebrated for decades. Let’s not stop now... more »


Feb. 9, 2021 | "Yeats saw so deeply into the contours of his age that the shape of the future became somewhat discernible"   ... more »


Feb. 8, 2021 | Was the painter Francis Bacon a truth-teller about humanity's animal nature, or a mere mimic, best at rendering feet, doorknobs, and toiletware?  ... more »


Feb. 5, 2021 | Both Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath were caught in the web of literary fame. But he lived to 74, she died at 30. The difference is instructive  ... more »


Feb. 4, 2021 | As a 23-year-old social-media influencer tops the best-seller list in France, the old guard fights back: “147 pages of emptiness, 19.50 lost euros” ... more »


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