May 16, 2017 | What comes from a 79-year-old French Maoist lecturing young people about being young? Some genuine insight, surprisingly... more »


May 15, 2017 | It's not that Heidegger was a windbag with nothing to say. His appeal stemmed from how he said nothing with a capital “N.” In emergencies we listen for capital letters... more »


May 13, 2017 | Is pop music poetry? Adam Bradley has a compelling answer: “Pop is a poetry whose success lies in getting you to forget that it is poetry at all”... more »


May 12, 2017 | In 1927 the Mississippi River flooded, spreading 80 miles wide at points. One byproduct of the catastrophe: the beginning of the literary careers of Faulkner and Richard Wright... more »


May 11, 2017 | Addicted to opium and always in debt, Thomas De Quincey fled his own child’s wake to escape a creditor. And yet he maintained a curious optimism... more »


May 10, 2017 | For 50 years, William F. Buckley Jr. policed the boundaries of conservatism, casting out extremists, bigots, kooks, anti-Semites, and racists. Or so he thought... more »


May 9, 2017 | How Martin Luther King Jr., who married a black sound — a rhythm, a style — to flawless Standard English, helped make "black talk" America's lingua franca ... more »


May 8, 2017 | With the exception of Jesus Christ, more books have been written about Martin Luther than about any other person. What can a new biography add? Quite a lot, actually... more »


May 6, 2017 | Walt Whitman, lifestyle guru. To cultivate "manly health,” he advised: Get up early, wash with cold water, climb trees, grow beards... more »


May 5, 2017 | Flaubert lived in revolutionary times. It left him with scorn for political movements and the chronic delusions that enable them ... more »


May 4, 2017 | Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil: Critics saw them as "pitiless," "icy," "clinical." They pursued heartlessness as an intellectual style... more »


May 3, 2017 | Conventional, proper, unthreatening: That's the Jane Austen we think we know. But modern readers misunderstand her. She was a radical, and not a secret one... more »


May 2, 2017 | In September 1939, the first days of World War II, Londoners slaughtered 400,000 of their own pets. A curious moral logic was at work... more »


May 1, 2017 | Ever get the feeling that tech companies took your solitude and monetized it? They have. We've forgotten the value of being alone... more »


April 29, 2017 | Hemingway, the spartan minimalist, and Dos Passos, the cinematic maximalist, became friends in 1923. They parted as enemies at a train station in 1937... more »


April 28, 2017 | We think we know more than our ancestors, but as individuals we know less. We comfort ourselves with an illusion of knowledge... more »


April 27, 2017 | Why did Les Misérables, a 500,000-word novel composed over 16 years, conquer the world? Because Victor Hugo, who believed in progress, told a story of irrepressible optimism... more »


April 26, 2017 | Stalin once thought that under Communism alcohol could be abolished because people would be so happy they wouldn’t want it. Moonshine flourished in the USSR... more »


April 25, 2017 | Arthur Krystal isn't so much literary critic with theories to peddle as an enthusiast with pleasures to share and enemies to fend off... more »


April 24, 2017 | Czeslaw Milosz, who witnessed Stalinist repression firsthand, is remembered as a political writer. Yet he always chafed against the label... more »


April 22, 2017 | Snobs: we hate them, but can we live without them? Insolence, ostentation, and the cultivation of arbitrary superiority help make us all who we are... more »


April 21, 2017 | More than Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford, it was Norman Bel Geddes, a theater designer turned industrial designer, who invented 20th-century America... more »


April 20, 2017 | Merriam-Webster's offices aren't velvet-curtained or oak-trimmed. They're less refined: drug deals in the parking lot, bullet holes in the safety glass ... more »


April 19, 2017 | Behold the Thought Leader, a thinker so deft and deluded he can flatter great wealth even as he pretends to challenge it... more »


April 18, 2017 | Good monsters, like good art, replace conventional ideas with something weird, troubling, and potentially heroic... more »


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