Jan. 2, 2017 | Alcohol has been ubiquitous in the history of war, and stimulants have fueled conflicts since World War II. Whatever the substance, war is rarely fought sober... more »


Dec. 31, 2016 | Günter Grass was a mischief maker, a master of hypocrisy as well as of metaphor. He knew that his last work wouldn’t be his finest, but he wrote it anyway... more »


Dec. 30, 2016 | Part artist, part scientist, Andrew Solomon has written on Libya, identity, and Chinese food. His work is so wide-ranging, he seems to come from an earlier century... more »


Dec. 29, 2016 | The Holocaust historian Saul Friedländer smiled and said the right things, but his friends were not fooled. “You are incapable of emotion,” they told him. “Your soul is arid”... more »


Dec. 28, 2016 | Sensory overload. After 500 years, Bosch’s demonic art continues to confound. How to understand an oeuvre that took one observer a year to absorb?... more »


Dec. 27, 2016 | His previous novel said too much. "The true work of art is the one that says the least," he now believed; silence invites readers to imagine depth. How Camus wrote The Stranger ... more »


Dec. 26, 2016 | To consider Pablo Neruda is to raise questions about politics and poison. But, as his lost poems show, he spoke to quiet, humanistic moments as well... more »


Dec. 24, 2016 | Patrick Leigh Fermor sought both the upper crust and peasant bread. He seduced duchesses but for much of his life had no home of his own... more »


Dec. 23, 2016 | Minae Mizumura, a Japanese novelist, reflects on the possibility of sustaining literatures other than English. To work in the hegemonic language isn't always an advantage... more »


Dec. 22, 2016 | How to think about rock. Before the biographies, blogs, and building of brands, it was the music that blew our minds. Behold the manic brilliance of David Bowie... more »


Dec. 21, 2016 | What’s new in poetry? Ashbery imitations, Johnny Cash’s scraps, and data-driven drivel. In short: word soup, with a dash of originality... more »


Dec. 20, 2016 | Everything old is new again. Preservationists, as well as Ph.D.s, love recapturing neglected aesthetic styles. The latest beneficiary: Brutalism... more »


Dec. 19, 2016 | Kafka liked swimming, hiking, zooming around on a motorbike, illustrating erotic fiction, and frequenting brothels. Did any of that inform his writing?... more »


Dec. 17, 2016 | What is a longtime marriage like for the French theorists Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers? It’s an intellectual exercise, an elegant performance... more »


Dec. 16, 2016 | Shakespeare, economic theorist. His work was shaped by the market. And that work, in turn, influenced the development of economic thought... more »


Dec. 15, 2016 | The work of the dead falls on the living, especially undertakers. We can live with broken hearts and shaken faith. But we can't live with a corpse on the floor... more »


Dec. 14, 2016 | Among the reasons to admire Robert Hughes: the iconoclasm of his art criticism, the pugnacity of his prose, his unabashed elitism... more »


Dec. 13, 2016 | What accounts for the rise of the West? Not technological breakthroughs, like the steam engine, but a respect for facts and a culture of discovery... more »


Dec. 12, 2016 | In 1964, Edmund Wilson published a 6,600-word assault on Nabokov's translation of Eugene Onegin. Why did Wilson savage his friend?... more »


Dec. 10, 2016 | Early in life, Stéphane Mallarmé lost his parents. Late in life, he lost a son. So he built an intellectual defense against the agony of mourning... more »


Dec. 9, 2016 | Young Bram Stoker worshiped the actor Henry Irving. The feeling was not mutual. Irving’s take on Stoker’s years-in-the-making novel: “dreadful”... more »


Dec. 8, 2016 | Before there were zoos, exotic animals were kept according to aristocratic whim. Ann Boleyn had a monkey; George IV, a giraffe. What did this mean?... more »


Dec. 7, 2016 | Romain Gary had an incorrigible thirst for narrative. His carefully constructed life veered from the "dubious to the patently false and from the slapstick to the macabre"... more »


Dec. 6, 2016 | Does the “micro texture” of Shakespeare’s sonnets hold the key to a longtime literary mystery? Elaine Scarry thinks so. She might be the only one... more »


Dec. 5, 2016 | Ezra Pound called Jean Cocteau -- poet, playwright, theatre director, jeweler -- the best writer in Europe. But his life story was riches-to-rags... more »


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