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 »


April 4, 2017 | In the humanities, it’s not contemplation but speed that seems to matter now. Fast and efficient should not be how we look at art... more »


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 »


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