May 3, 2017 | Conventional, proper, unthreatening: That's the Jane Austen we think we know. But modern readers misunderstand her. She was a radical, and not a secret one... more »


May 2, 2017 | In September 1939, the first days of World War II, Londoners slaughtered 400,000 of their own pets. A curious moral logic was at work... more »


May 1, 2017 | Ever get the feeling that tech companies took your solitude and monetized it? They have. We've forgotten the value of being alone... more »


April 29, 2017 | Hemingway, the spartan minimalist, and Dos Passos, the cinematic maximalist, became friends in 1923. They parted as enemies at a train station in 1937... more »


April 28, 2017 | We think we know more than our ancestors, but as individuals we know less. We comfort ourselves with an illusion of knowledge... more »


April 27, 2017 | Why did Les Misérables, a 500,000-word novel composed over 16 years, conquer the world? Because Victor Hugo, who believed in progress, told a story of irrepressible optimism... more »


April 26, 2017 | Stalin once thought that under Communism alcohol could be abolished because people would be so happy they wouldn’t want it. Moonshine flourished in the USSR... more »


April 25, 2017 | Arthur Krystal isn't so much literary critic with theories to peddle as an enthusiast with pleasures to share and enemies to fend off... more »


April 24, 2017 | Czeslaw Milosz, who witnessed Stalinist repression firsthand, is remembered as a political writer. Yet he always chafed against the label... more »


April 22, 2017 | Snobs: we hate them, but can we live without them? Insolence, ostentation, and the cultivation of arbitrary superiority help make us all who we are... more »


April 21, 2017 | More than Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford, it was Norman Bel Geddes, a theater designer turned industrial designer, who invented 20th-century America... more »


April 20, 2017 | Merriam-Webster's offices aren't velvet-curtained or oak-trimmed. They're less refined: drug deals in the parking lot, bullet holes in the safety glass ... more »


April 19, 2017 | Behold the Thought Leader, a thinker so deft and deluded he can flatter great wealth even as he pretends to challenge it... more »


April 18, 2017 | Good monsters, like good art, replace conventional ideas with something weird, troubling, and potentially heroic... more »


April 17, 2017 | In Making It, Norman Podhoretz, consumed as much by the qualities of failure as by his own success, came to realize what he was against: "losers"... more »


April 15, 2017 | How biography works. It isn't merely a mode of historical inquiry, “but an act of imaginative faith,” says Richard Holmes, who has spent his life pursuing subjects through the past... more »


April 14, 2017 | Jürgen Habermas has devoted his career to the study of democracy. But is his version of it premised on naïve, idealized, unrealistic notions?... more »


April 13, 2017 | The barfly turned graphomaniac, the hoarder turned diarist. “When an ordinary person writes exhaustively about her own life, it can be something of a nightmare”... more »


April 12, 2017 | Charles Ives envisioned an eclectic gathering of diverse sounds. A century later, it's come to pass: rock, gamelan, hip hop, salsa, jazz, classical, klezmer: It's all one playlist... more »


April 11, 2017 | When critics look in the mirror. Memoirs from Lee Siegel and Daphne Merkin show that book reviewers, too, can suffer from debt and depression... more »


April 10, 2017 | "Universities are now terrible places to find political heterogeneity," writes Jennifer Senior. "Campus discourse has become the equivalent of the supermarket banana. Only one genetic variety remains"... more »


April 8, 2017 | Particle physics helps explain astronomy; botany shapes archaeology; the moon landing informs paleontology. Does all science converge?... more »


April 7, 2017 | According to A.C. Grayling, philosophy made the transition from medieval to modern in the 17th century. But does assigning a historical period actually mean anything?... more »


April 6, 2017 | Darwin’s work set off an intellectual earthquake in America. It transformed Thoreau from a poet into a geologist, altered abolitionism, and spurred a generation of literary naturalists... more »


April 5, 2017 | Rarely has so much catastrophe been crammed into one biography. Czeslaw Milosz, who died at 93, came to see life as an honorable defeat... more »


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