July 4, 2017 | Just a contemplative philosopher? Montaigne’s life was full of misadventure: He fled mobs, was kidnapped by bandits, was exiled from the city where he was mayor... more »

July 3, 2017 | He fell into a vat of boiling water for scalding pigs; then he contracted polio. Does Harry Crews’s childhood explain his affinity for the grotesque?... more »

July 1, 2017 | Susan Sontag’s greatest work of criticism was the one she applied to herself. Her journals were not just a record of her life; they were an alternative to it... more »

June 30, 2017 | Just because you're a man who reads Julia Kristeva doesn’t mean you're not sexist. In the arts, sexism is more often a failure of empathy than of understanding... more »

June 29, 2017 | Asked about his transformation from Oxford don to thought leader, Niall Ferguson was blunt: “I did it all for the money.” He's not alone... more »

June 28, 2017 | Cockroaches, crummy days, and lousy lakes. For Grace Paley, every part of life was worthy of literary attention. There was beauty in banality... more »

June 27, 2017 | The essay, that most elegant and slippery of forms, resists being pinned down. Its strength derives from a “combination of exactitude and evasion”... more »

June 26, 2017 | The brief rise of "prince poo." How the Enlightenment's sensory awakening reached its apex (or nadir) during a French craze for garments the color of baby poop... more »

June 24, 2017 | Even Bach, musical savant and master of counterpoint, did not escape critique. For one journalist, his work contained “too much art”... more »

June 23, 2017 | After decades of literary labor, Bulgakov had published little: some short stories, part of a novel. The problem? His failure to understand what was wanted from his work... more »

June 22, 2017 | Mickey Mouse, Jack the Ripper, Proust, mutton chops, ghost stories, comics: Joachim Kalka can write interestingly about almost anything... more »

June 21, 2017 | What's the meaning of red? It's the first color. It has the most powerful poetic and aesthetic associations. It warns, prohibits, condemns... more »

June 20, 2017 | For Terry Eagleton, culture is “the opium of the intelligentsia.” To understand this, along with his other epigrams, consider his anti-philosophical stance... more »

June 18, 2017 | At least since Orwell, bad writing has been linked with bad politics. But is good writing really a panacea for social, economic, legal, and political ills?... more »

June 17, 2017 | Why we act as we do: neurons, neurotransmitters, hormones, teachers, peers, and society. Yet every “cause” of our behavior is linked to dozens of other variables... more »

June 16, 2017 | “Identity is never singular but is multiply constructed,” wrote Stuart Hall, founder of cultural studies. Do his reflections on his identity help us understand our own?... more »

June 15, 2017 | Inside Wagner's head. The composer's essence was self-dramatization wrapped in contradiction. He was, himself, an all-embracing work of art... more »

June 14, 2017 | After decades of research and dozens of excellent books, is there anything new to say about Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick? Yes, quite a lot... more »

June 13, 2017 | "Having won California, self-esteem conquered the world. So here we are, living with the first generation raised entirely on the intoxicating mantra of its own excellence"... more »

June 12, 2017 | In an 1888 diary entry, Thomas Hardy reflected on a church service. His stream-of-consciousness style was a harbinger of modernist techniques to come. We are Hardy's heirs... more »

June 10, 2017 | What it’s like to be known as the man defeated by a machine: Garry Kasparov, an early enthusiast of chess-playing computers, rethinks Deep Blue... more »

June 9, 2017 | Those mean-spirited New York Intellectuals. “Everyone around Partisan Review,” wrote Diana Trilling, “had his licensed malice.” But she could be as vicious as any of them... more »

June 8, 2017 | Why is world literature dismissed as deracinated and dull, representing what’s wrong with the culture industry? Adam Kirsch defends a maligned genre... more »

June 7, 2017 | The boredom boom. New books defend silence and solitude, pushing back against society’s endless demands to be entertained. Has the study of boredom become boring?... more »

June 6, 2017 | The flip side to Goethe's self-confidence was melancholy. Writing was an exercise — often unsuccessful — in cheering himself up... more »

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