Feb. 11, 2017 | Step aside, beauty and truth. You were central artistic signifiers for millennia, but no more. The new alpha and omega: identity.... more »


Feb. 10, 2017 | Alexander von Humboldt climbed volcanoes, braved an anthrax epidemic, and negotiated with Napoleon. He wanted to measure everything... more »


Feb. 9, 2017 | Nabokov and Edmund Wilson’s falling out — over translating Pushkin — is often considered silly. But at stake was a serious question: Who owns language?... more »


Feb. 8, 2017 | Depression: Heidegger called it anxiety. Sylvia Plath likened it to being covered with a bell jar. Daphne Merkin experienced “a yawning inner lack." How do you write about a lack?... more »


Feb. 7, 2017 | Over four years, Hemingway evolved from an obscure experimental writer into a literary lion. His letters, pugilistic and patronizing, explain his transformation... more »


Feb. 6, 2017 | Self-confident rogue with a gold hoop in his ear? Disoriented schlub with a vacant stare? What did Shakespeare look like?... more »


Feb. 4, 2017 | Freud and Bacon. Matisse and Picasso. Degas and Manet. Pollock and de Kooning. Friendship between artists is marked by the longing to be close and the need to stand apart... more »


Feb. 3, 2017 | In the small universe of academics who theorize about the true nature of conservatism, the ranks are split by two historiographical enemies: Mark Lilla and Corey Robin ... more »


Feb. 2, 2017 | A corporeal poet, Catullus was privileged, outrageous, and sexually prolific. Appalled to learn that Romans watered down their wine, he wrote a poem about it... more »


Feb. 1, 2017 | A sense of modesty was central to Elizabeth Bishop's art. She published only about 100 poems during her life. "I’ve written poetry more by not writing it than writing it” ... more »


Jan. 31, 2017 | Vinyl-record sales are up and creative types cling to their Moleskines. What if the benefits of digitizing everything turn out to be drawbacks?... more »


Jan. 30, 2017 | Jane Austen's juvenilia. She was bawdy at 14, indulging in lewd intimations and poor taste, and hinting at the sharp irony to come... more »


Jan. 28, 2017 | The penny post, the telegram, email -- all were predicted to be the death of letter writing. Elizabeth Bishop and Philip Larkin shared this anxiety, but their correspondence debunks it... more »


Jan. 27, 2017 | Life as the daughter of Kenneth Tynan was never normal. Turning 21 was marked by lines of coke and a screening of Deep Throat arranged by Sammy Davis Jr.... more »


Jan. 26, 2017 | Step aside, Charlotte. Out of the way, Emily. Time for Anne Brontë, the youngest sister, who left behind two novels and five letters, to get her due... more »


Jan. 25, 2017 | "The baton and jackboot." The transformation of German and Austrian orchestras into instruments of Nazi power actually began before Hitler... more »


Jan. 24, 2017 | For Victorians, their literature reflected the triumph of the British Empire. For African-Americans, Victorian literature was an unlikely source of inspiration... more »


Jan. 23, 2017 | Pankaj Mishra has taken on an enormous task: explaining the modern world. But in trying to write about everything, he ends up writing about nothing... more »


Jan. 21, 2017 | In what way, exactly, is pop music popular? Successful songs may be covered again and again, but even the biggest hits inevitably fade... more »


Jan. 20, 2017 | An anti-systematizer in an age of grand theories, Alexander Herzen was once as famous as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, but died in relative obscurity... more »


Jan. 19, 2017 | What's the relationship between fact and fiction in Jane Austen's novels? Janeites take pride in discovering “truths," but Austen was fond of fabrication... more »


Jan. 18, 2017 | Is psychology the key to understanding the politics of resentment, antagonism, and self-contradiction? Pankaj Mishra enjoins us to revisit Rousseau, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche... more »


Jan. 17, 2017 | How did Wallace Stevens, who lived an excruciatingly mundane and superficial life, write some of the most inventive poetry of the 20th century?... more »


Jan. 16, 2017 | Freud and women, Freud the clinician, Freud with his cigars, Freud and cocaine: Despite the vast materials by and about him, or perhaps because of them, we still don't know who Freud really was... more »


Jan. 14, 2017 | Utilitarianism and other abstract theories promise elegant solutions to life’s challenges. But difficult decisions are part of what makes ethical thought ethical... more »


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