June 5, 2020 | Dickens’s fiction drew on the most painful secrets of his life. His gift: turning insecurity into a creative asset... more »


June 4, 2020 | Simone and André Weil devoted themselves to the search for truth. He solved mathematical problems. She died before she could solve the problem of life.... more »


June 3, 2020 | The key to understanding the modern human mind is found in the ancient hunter myths. Or so says Roberto Calasso... more »


June 2, 2020 | The meaning of doubt. "Unbelief needs the believer’s reflecting gaze to better understand itself"... more »


June 1, 2020 | Lydia Davis is a writer for whom the subject is always, on some level, writing itself... more »


May 30, 2020 | John Rawls’s work can take on the quality of a sacred text. Was his appeal related to the declining status of Christianity?... more »


May 29, 2020 | Martin Hägglund’s philosophical blockbuster, This Life, has been widely lauded. Yet for such a liberating text, it’s stunningly parochial... more »


May 28, 2020 | For some “intellectually displaced” women in the 1960s, a haven beckoned — the Radcliffe Institute, feminism’s first think tank... more »


May 27, 2020 | The world is turbulent and tragic, while philosophers are cool and rational. Their field would gain so much if they could be moved... more »


May 26, 2020 | From Knausgaard to Lerner to Heti, we’re plagued by goodness — as if readers were scandalized by immoral characters in fiction... more »


May 25, 2020 | Coffee, “the most grateful lubricant of the human machine,” has made — and destroyed — entire societies... more »


May 23, 2020 | The poetry of Paul Valéry seems the work of a man behind his times. But beneath the old-fashioned veneer is the shock of the modern... more »


May 22, 2020 | The art critic Hal Foster separated “good” from “bad” postmodernism. How real is that distinction?... more »


May 21, 2020 | With his puncturing of ideology and his wild, hallucinatory tales, Robert Stone reshaped what the American crime thriller could be... more »


May 20, 2020 | Shame is about dishonor, vulnerability, and disgrace. It's also a tool of politics and power... more »


May 19, 2020 | The Anglo-Boer War is remembered, when it's remembered at all, for those who improbably played a part: Churchill, Gandhi, Kipling, Conan Doyle... more »


May 18, 2020 | Clive James was perhaps Philip Larkin's best reader. But his Larkin is a projection — the poet that James wanted to be... more »


May 16, 2020 | There are lots of supposed polymaths. They’re brilliant in one field, but mediocre in others. True polymaths are rare... more »


May 15, 2020 | In 1979, Richard Rorty suggested that philosophy was over; graduate students might as well give up. One of his own, Robert Brandom, has now proven that thought absurd... more »


May 14, 2020 | When Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson met, they debated the nature of fiction and griped about — what else? — money... more »


May 13, 2020 | Edward Said and the culture wars. His attempts to woo the American academy into opposing imperialism were as fruitless as “cajoling a cat into altruism”... more »


May 12, 2020 | Franz Boas in 1888: “It is most unpleasant work to steal bones from a grave, but what is the use, someone has to do it”... more »


May 11, 2020 | William James’s critics mistake his pragmatism for simple relativism. He endures because he addressed the meaning of life... more »


May 9, 2020 | A memoir that conceals. Rebecca Solnit’s latest book promises intimacy, but it speaks more powerfully on broad, collective problems... more »


May 8, 2020 | Franz Boas inveighed against racism. But did his ideas ultimately help to strengthen its grip?... more »


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