Oct. 9, 2017 | In the early 1930s, Nazi jurists debated how best to create a racist regime. They found inspiration in American law... more »


Oct. 7, 2017 | Sylvia Plath at Smith. “I’m so happy here I could cry!” she wrote to her mother. In her journals, she struck a different note: “God, who am I? ... I’m lost.”... more »


Oct. 6, 2017 | James C. Scott faults civilization for destroying the freedom and equality of our ancestors. But civilization is why we value such ideals in the first place... more »


Oct. 5, 2017 | “As a child,” wrote Roland Barthes, “I was bored often ... and it has continued my whole life.” His boredom was powerful: the intensity of a lack of intensity... more »


Oct. 4, 2017 | The novelist as journalist is a rich tradition but an uneven one. In the case of Martin Amis, the problem isn't so much his performance as his subjects’ worth... more »


Oct. 3, 2017 | Here is the story of a privileged young adult. He suffers neither intellectual disappointment nor spiritual disillusion nor emotional setbacks. He is Adam Gopnik... more »


Oct. 2, 2017 | Isaac Newton is remembered for his work on gravity, cosmology, mathematics, and the color spectrum. But his writings on Christianity are among the most daring works of the early modern period... more »


Sept. 30, 2017 | Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essays have become major events. Is he a literary aberration, a Baldwin acolyte, or something else entirely?... more »


Sept. 29, 2017 | To see “how difference operates inside people’s heads,” said Stuart Hall, “you have to go to art, you have to go to culture — to where people imagine, where they fantasize, where they symbolize”... more »


Sept. 28, 2017 | Alain de Botton wants to teach you how love really works. So he wrote a novel full of insights too trite to be even superficial... more »


Sept. 27, 2017 | T. S. Eliot thought poets should be scholarly and offer justification for their work. Poets who followed this vision would embrace “the glamour of overwork”... more »


Sept. 26, 2017 | The “eerie, queery, sometimes weary” Edward Lear. A gay man in Victorian times, he lived a life full of sadness. Nonsense helped fill the void... more »


Sept. 25, 2017 | Montaigne was a politician, soldier, bureaucrat, and courtier before he became a philosopher. His work stands as a reminder of the permanent necessity of judgment... more »


Sept. 23, 2017 | Consider the couch. From the supine symposia of ancient Greece to Freud’s psychoanalytic sessions, horizontality has been associated with deep thinking -- why?... more »


Sept. 22, 2017 | Modernity brought speed, stress, and sensory bombardment. In Austria, this “nervous age” drove the ideas of psychiatrists and architects together... more »


Sept. 21, 2017 | What writers wear. Updike’s look, like his prose, was “normcore with flair.” Beckett cultivated a “nonchalantly seductive” look via turtleneck. And then there’s Knausgaard... more »


Sept. 20, 2017 | A poem is a machine, "one that for the reader produces discoveries, connections, glimmers of expression,” says Matthew Zapruder. How should that machine function?... more »


Sept. 19, 2017 | Books by Charles Darwin number 25. Books about Darwin number 7,500, with 160 more titles each year. Is there anything new to say on the subject? Yes... more »


Sept. 18, 2017 | A.E. Housman's work is suffused with the pain of life, and the beauty of that pain. Yet his emotional armor was heavy. How to explain the gulf between poet and poetry?... more »


Sept. 16, 2017 | "The essay is subject to laws that are not less strict for appearing to be delicate and ineffable,” says Brian Dillon, who attempts the thankless task of defining those laws... more »


Sept. 15, 2017 | Five and a half years. That's how long Otis Redding's career lasted. Given where he came from, it's astonishing that his career happened at all... more »


Sept. 14, 2017 | John McPhee is the maestro of 40,000-word nonfiction articles. He spent weeks staring at the sky thinking about how to begin. Can anyone still afford to write like that?... more »


Sept. 13, 2017 | The Enlightenment emerged from a 150-year “staccato burst” of European philosophy. Why did these thinkers — Hobbes, Descarte, Voltaire, Rousseau — write as they did? ... more »


Sept. 12, 2017 | Over three years, Mozart composed eight piano concertos, three symphonies, and The Marriage of Figaro. He also bought a pet starling. Coincidence?... more »


Sept. 11, 2017 | What happened to the public intellectual? She became a partisan. Hannah Arendt warned about translating philosophical insight into political commitment ... more »


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