July 14, 2016 | By all accounts, including his own, Evelyn Waugh had an aptitude for unpleasantness, beholden as he was to his personal trinity: religion, rudeness, and drink... more »


July 13, 2016 | To be 50 is to feel like an old coin: "worn – worn down and worn out.” Or so memoirists of a certain age tell us. When did midlife become a problem to be solved?... more »


July 12, 2016 | What distinguishes a human being from a chestnut tree? It's the sort of question that preoccupied the apricot-cocktail-swilling set at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse... more »


July 11, 2016 | In the early 1960s, Eric Hobsbawm traveled to Cuba and translated for Che Guevara. Thus began a more than 40-year fascination with Latin America... more »


July 9, 2016 | Shock, camp, comedic juxtapositions: What was Robert Mapplethorpe trying to achieve? Fame and wealth, sure. But also a carefully cultivated sense of estrangement... more »


July 8, 2016 | Jonah Lehrer is back from exile. Chastened, but ready to return to the rarefied bubble of pop-science gurudom. His bid for redemption: a book about love that has no heart... more »


July 7, 2016 | A virgin bikes into Transylvania; a Good Food Guide for vampires. Inside the more-Jacobean-than-Shakespearian mind of Angela Carter... more »


July 6, 2016 | Evelyn Waugh: He dabbled at painting and homosexuality, excelled at snobbish bigotry, wrote 16 novels, had seven children and a nervous breakdown... more »


July 5, 2016 | What color were Kafka's eyes? Four accounts offer four different answers: dark, gray, blue, and brown. He was a man who preferred to go unnoticed... more »


July 4, 2016 | Benedict Anderson was a man of the left. He dressed in the style of Indonesian peasants. But he was nostalgic for classical education's broadness and lack of professional utility... more »


July 2, 2016 | Why ugliness matters. Our capacity for appreciating the revolting, disgusting, horrific, and abject is among our deepest shared responses to the world... more »


July 1, 2016 | Books aren't for diversion, distraction, or even mere reading. They are for marking up. As a 16th-century writer put it: “Using a book, not reading it, makes us wise”... more »


June 30, 2016 | Charlotte Brontë was no lonely spinster. She had suitors. "You do not know me," she told one of them. "I am not the serious, grave, cool-headed individual you suppose"... more »


June 29, 2016 | The unlikely William Empson. A socialist who revered the British monarchy, a bisexual bohemian banished from academe, a genius... more »


June 28, 2016 | Beauty tips, stock tips, a defense of anorexia, a breast augmentation at 73. Helen Gurley Brown wasn't exactly an intellectual, but she was a philosopher... more »


June 27, 2016 | Herman Melville, known in his day as a sexual adventurer, had an attractive, literary neighbor, Sarah Morewood. Was she the muse of Moby-Dick? ... more »


June 25, 2016 | The republic of letters has never been hospitable. The natives are irascible, hungry, and thirsty. The chronicle of dissolution begins in 1918... more »


June 24, 2016 | We want to believe in the idea of limitless potential, with success more a matter of willpower than of talent. But believing doesn't make it true... more »


June 23, 2016 | When poets are parents. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an exemplary father; Robert Lowell, not so much. How does becoming a dad change how one writes?... more »


June 22, 2016 | A strange blend of Thoreau, Edison, and Ford, Buckminster Fuller was a consummate visionary. He was also a failure and a fraud... more »


June 21, 2016 | A progressive with a dim view of humanity, Ray Bradbury understood that tyranny is at its most potent when it seems most benevolent... more »


June 20, 2016 | The first history of Nazi concentration camps appeared in 1946. Tens of thousands of studies have followed. Is it possible to say anything new? Yes... more »


June 18, 2016 | Jenny Diski's spectacular originality relied on her ability to empathize even with those whom she failed to understand... more »


June 17, 2016 | For nearly 40 years, Arthur Conan Doyle contributed countless stories to The Strand. No relationship between writer and magazine was more fruitful... more »


June 16, 2016 | We need our hands to do something, to keep busy. Cultures are transformed when we change what we do with our hands. Here's how it happens... more »


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