Dec. 27, 2019 | The case for universality in music: Ethnographers have discovered that all of it has characteristics of formality, arousal, and religiosity... more »


Dec. 26, 2019 | “He was not crazy all the time.” Elizabeth Hardwick was wounded grievously by Robert Lowell. And yet they made up, sort of... more »


Dec. 25, 2019 | Aided by the “soft despotism of social media,” young leftists dismiss the hard-earned values of liberal democracy. Or so holds David Bromwich... more »


Dec. 24, 2019 | Virginia Woolf’s work suffered as a result of her pain and frustrations. But it suffered as well, at times, from her happiness... more »


Dec. 23, 2019 | Literature of constraints: A detective novel written entirely without the letter E, a book of 10 sonnets that share a rhyme scheme and sound... more »


Dec. 21, 2019 | Classical music once mattered so much it divided those who believed that art transcends politics, and those who don't... more »


Dec. 20, 2019 | For Nabokov, true writers must never be socially or politically embroiled, lest they devolve into that loathed creature — the journalist... more »


Dec. 19, 2019 | Animals that could incinerate acres of land with their terrible farts — such was the world of the medieval bestiary... more »


Dec. 18, 2019 | Thomas Mann was a serious writer, which meant standing above the political fray — until that became impossible to sustain... more »


Dec. 17, 2019 | When Clay Felker was at the helm of New York magazine, he made one demand of editors and designers: "Make it bigger"... more »


Dec. 16, 2019 | Cheap books create canonical authors. Jane Austen, it turns out, was popular for longer with more readers than previously thought... more »


Dec. 14, 2019 | The hipster cometh. Behind the “language of hip,” you’re likely to find white people appropriating black aesthetics. Lauren Michele Jackson explains... more »


Dec. 13, 2019 | The long, glorious history of beer. Consider the epic Gilgamesh: After seven jugs, our hero “was suddenly joyful, and sang aloud”... more »


Dec. 12, 2019 | A biographical dilemma. A new book purports to explain how Rembrandt became Rembrandt. But there’s so little new evidence to build on... more »


Dec. 11, 2019 | Nabokov enjoyed knockout punches — both in boxing, where he took them, and in criticism, where he landed them... more »


Dec. 10, 2019 | Imagine what life was like 245 million years ago. Hard, isn’t it? Forget fossils — the world of dinosaurs is inherently unfathomable to us... more »


Dec. 9, 2019 | As any pet owner can attest, animals do communicate. But do they have languages? Do mating dances, alarm calls, and meows have a grammar?... more »


Dec. 7, 2019 | The genius of Philip Larkin’s poetry was his gift for somehow sublimating our appreciation of life by amplifying its ordinariness... more »


Dec. 6, 2019 | Who was Edison? To his employees, an Ubermensch; to his investors, a fantasist; to his rivals, a publicity whore; to his family, a stranger... more »


Dec. 5, 2019 | Not her sister’s keeper. Mary-Kay Wilmers is exacting and suspicious of didacticism, especially where feminism is involved... more »


Dec. 4, 2019 | What you think of religion largely depends on what you think is religion. Stephen Asma has been changing his mind... more »


Dec. 3, 2019 | “Historians of ideas were the least useful kind of historians,” held Isaiah Berlin. But there was one exception: Lewis Namier... more »


Dec. 2, 2019 | As America’s identity wars go on, the combatants forget a simple truth: Holier-than-thou-ism is as old as the country itself... more »


Nov. 30, 2019 | For 176 years, The Economist has been the ur-magazine of Anglophone liberalism. Can it survive an illiberal era?... more »


Nov. 29, 2019 | The unbearable loneliness of the concert pianist. Applause, green room, hotel room, taxi, airport lounge. Reprise, repeat... more »


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