Oct. 12, 2019 | Auberon Waugh and the art of writing about wine. Tasting notes include stale cardboard, French train stations, old penknives, and a dead chrysanthemum... more »


Oct. 11, 2019 | The anthropologists who coined “cultural relativism” discovered that, in fact, not all cultures were equal. American culture, they felt, was inadequate... more »


Oct. 10, 2019 | “All they do is show you’ve been to college,” wrote Vonnegut about semicolons. Why does punctuation inspire such strong feelings?... more »


Oct. 9, 2019 | “Philosophy progresses, not by producing better theories, but by the elimination of confusion through the clarification of what, in some sense, we knew all along.”... more »


Oct. 8, 2019 | In Greece, Byron’s doctor diagnosed epilepsy and siphoned off half the blood in his body. But perhaps it was the poet’s diet that did him in... more »


Oct. 7, 2019 | Seamus Heaney is famous for poems of bogs, ditches, and sectarian violence. But he became a poet of happiness... more »


Oct. 5, 2019 | Nicholas Coleridge has heard it all. Young people with sex tips; Prince Andrew on building a golf course; Margaret Thatcher ranting about the lottery... more »


Oct. 4, 2019 | The spectacle of celebrity entertainment coming home to rot was Norman Mailer’s foremost topic. No doubt he would have written a Trump novel... more »


Oct. 3, 2019 | Despite their love, Beauvoir found Sartre rather pathetic. His skirt-chasing didn’t help — nor did his performance in bed... more »


Oct. 2, 2019 | Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog, warned E.B. and Katharine S. White —nobody cares, and the frog dies in the process. Still academics persist... more »


Oct. 1, 2019 | Was one ménage à trois (featuring a famous mezzo-soprano, her art-dealer husband, and Ivan Turgenev) at the heart of Europe’s cultural boom?... more »


Sept. 30, 2019 | Ernst Jünger, it was said, had a good World War II. “Some people had dirty hands, some had clean hands, but Jünger had no hands”... more »


Sept. 28, 2019 | Computers were the best thing since psychedelics — early Silicon Valley had a cheery, hippie vibe. How things have changed... more »


Sept. 27, 2019 | Religion did not need the growth of secularism to spawn its own criticism; it already contained the challenges that have become commonplace... more »


Sept. 26, 2019 | “Secular liberals dismiss Christianity as a fairy tale, but their values and their view of history remain essentially Christian”... more »


Sept. 25, 2019 | Arthur Koestler's account of the unbearable toll of intellectual orthodoxy is what makes Darkness at Noon a subversive book even today... more »


Sept. 24, 2019 | Semicolons: Melville was promiscuous; Vonnegut swore them off as "transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing." Where do you stand?... more »


Sept. 23, 2019 | How Thomas Mann, who had written murky paeans to German nationalism, transformed himself into an antifascist polemicist... more »


Sept. 21, 2019 | A new biography of Frank Lloyd Wright is convincing about his artistic greatness — and devastating about his essential humanity... more »


Sept. 20, 2019 | The internet asks us to optimize our appearance, to banish our “dark corners”; it turns our basic humanity into an exploitable viral asset... more »


Sept. 19, 2019 | The Yale philosopher Martin Hägglund’s call for “secular faith” is heartfelt. It is also monotonous and out of touch... more »


Sept. 18, 2019 | How we learn to write less badly. So much of the instruction and its fealty to fossilized rules are foolish and counterproductive... more »


Sept. 17, 2019 | Susan Sontag, envied by many, was without illusions about herself. She reviled her unattractive qualities. Not that she changed her ways... more »


Sept. 16, 2019 | The splendor and misery of Ivan Turgenev's love life. He said he could feel love only when a woman’s heel was pushing his neck into the mud... more »


Sept. 14, 2019 | What lifted Anne Frank's diary above so many other accounts of the Holocaust? Her remarkably intimate descriptions of coming of age in a kind of cage... more »


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