April 3, 2017 | The poet and painter David Jones never got over his experience on the Western Front during World War I. "My mind can't be rid of it," he said late in a life spent mostly indoors  ... more »


April 1, 2017 | William Empson detested the “horrible Frenchmen” of Deconstruction. Yet Empson himself, author of Seven Types of Ambiguity, anticipated many of their ideas... more »


March 31, 2017 | The Holocaust bisected Isaac Deutscher's life. But he remained an optimist, confident that humanity would emerge better off. Was this admirable, or foolish, or both?... more »


March 30, 2017 | Louis Kahn wanted buildings to speak an ancestral spatial language. A brick arch wasn’t just a brick arch — it was a way to connect across cultures and history... more »


March 29, 2017 | Dwight Garner on Camille Paglia: "Reading this book is like being stranded in a bar where the jukebox has only two songs, both by Pat Benatar" ... more »


March 28, 2017 | David Jones was a soldier at the Somme, a poet, and an artist. He saw his mission as rebutting the corrupting of culture -- what he called “the Break”... more »


March 27, 2017 | Privilege police. When did fetishizing powerlessness become a commonplace of online debate? Dismissing someone's view because of his "privilege" isn't an argument. It's a slur ... more »


March 25, 2017 | In the mid-1930s, when Nazi jurists and politicians looked for innovations in racism and a guide on how to discriminate, they looked to America... more »


March 24, 2017 | Orchestra after the Anschluss. It was mostly business as usual for the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. But a surreal otherworldliness echoed inside and outside the concert halls... more »


March 23, 2017 | The novel has been declared dead so many times that such arguments are less interesting than theories about why they keep being made... more »


March 22, 2017 | In the darkness, she saw her father perched on a ledge. “I’m going to jump!” he yelled. Her mother replied, “Why don’t you?” Just another night in the Tynan household... more »


March 21, 2017 | Suicide, self-destruction, poetry. Berryman, Plath, Chatterton, Larkin, Frost, Auden: Is an unhappy end a necessary price for poetic genius?... more »


March 20, 2017 | Being married to Thomas Carlyle, said a friend, must be "something next worse to being married to Satan himself." Carlyle's wife, Jane, made the most of the situation... more »


March 18, 2017 | Machiavelli was not Machiavellian, but just a good-hearted guy who wrote The Prince ironically. Or so asserts a new book. Terry Eagleton is having none of it... more »


March 17, 2017 | Why has The Hatred of Poetry been such a publishing success? Yes, Ben Lerner is witty and charming. But more important, he gives readers permission to be a bit philistine... more »


March 16, 2017 | Gay Talese’s eye for detail has made him a legend. But his obsession with observation can preclude deeper insights... more »


March 15, 2017 | When failure to get the story was the story. The trope pervaded the New Journalism. Now Joan Didion shares her journalistic defeat: the South... more »


March 14, 2017 | Karl Miller was an editor at The Spectator and the New Statesman, and co-founded the London Review of Books. He was pugnacious, wise, and, not least, a good father... more »


March 13, 2017 | Il Duce's last lover. The myth of Mussolini as the leader who never flagged, a man of power and daring, cast a spell on Claretta Petacci. "I’d like to jump onto your bed like a big tomcat"... more »


March 11, 2017 | When it comes to precise and memorable extended descriptions, Elizabeth Bishop is unrivaled. Yet great poets provoke strong emotions, and her verse lacks fire... more »


March 10, 2017 | Tennyson despaired at the existence of fossils; Darwin mocked such thinking as “catastrophist.” Our notion of extinction rests on the relationship between the arts and sciences... more »


March 9, 2017 | Angela Carter’s becoming a feminist icon and darling of academics was an unhappy development for her. "The thought that I’m taught in universities makes me feel rather miserable”... more »


March 8, 2017 | The impediments of style. Terry Eagleton’s writing proceeds by jokey elaboration, winking asides, and absurdist flights of fancy. It’s fun, but frustrating... more »


March 7, 2017 | Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac grew up speaking joual, a working-class dialect of Canadian French. Later, going by “Jack,” he would shape the nature of Americana... more »


March 6, 2017 | Every perished democracy died in its own way. In 1930s Germany, what mattered most was that so many citizens were willing to allow Hitler to do what he did ... more »


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