Nov. 12, 2016 | Of myths and little green men. The UFO-spotters, flying-saucer theorists, and aspiring telepaths of the credulous '60s were a mix of true believers and fans of fiction... more »


Nov. 11, 2016 | The tyranny of time travel. The subject has had brilliant thinking from Borges, Stoppard, Sebald, and many scientists and philosophers — but to what end?... more »


Nov. 10, 2016 | A.E. Housman’s poetry spoke to the soul of England but was set in “not exactly a real place.” His was an England purely of the mind... more »


Nov. 9, 2016 | Scholars are searching for antecedents to today’s New Atheists. Did a cultlike “atheist underground” really flourish in the ancient world? Doubtful... more »


Nov. 8, 2016 | What was it like to work for Stanley Kubrick? Sample tasks: Take care of the cats and dogs, hang up on Fellini, deliver an enormous porcelain phallus... more »


Nov. 7, 2016 | Jonathan Swift, remembered as petulant and severe, could be tender — although that tenderness seemed like a "quivering slab of meat into which he longed to plunge a nice sharp fork"... more »


Nov. 5, 2016 | Want to live inside a Jane Austen novel? A word of caution from Caitlin Flanagan: Everyone smelled horrible, the Thames overflowed with feces, and women were relegated to the home... more »


Nov. 4, 2016 | Critics argue that lumping “world literature” together leads to a great flattening, reducing particularities into a global monoculture. But has that been true?... more »


Nov. 3, 2016 | Cézanne, Carlyle, and Turing all suffered from shyness. No wonder: Social anxiety turns us — especially writers and artists — into close readers of the world’s signs and wonders... more »


Nov. 2, 2016 | Narcissism is everywhere, the hallmark of our era, we’re told. This belief merely perpetuates what Narcissus’ own story was — a myth... more »


Nov. 1, 2016 | Try literature that scares the daylights out of you. Reading ghost stories not only helps expand the imagination; it also makes us nicer and more humble... more »


Oct. 30, 2016 | Being an agent in Hollywood isn't a job, it's a lifestyle. Those who make it display greed and genius, clairvoyance and an aptitude for both ass-kissing and obstinacy ... more »


Oct. 29, 2016 | The meanings of snobbery. It's an assumption of social superiority, a moral failing, and it’s expressed in a variety of guises: by food snobs, book snobs, real-estate snobs... more »


Oct. 28, 2016 | Liberal intellectuals have long dismissed both radicals and reactionaries. Now this moral certainty has evaporated into empty, cranky clichés... more »


Oct. 27, 2016 | Socrates set the bar too high. Sage, ascetic, gadfly: His purity of motivation is impossible for philosophers to sustain in modern capitalist society... more »


Oct. 26, 2016 | Dating is like a “precarious form of contemporary labor: an unpaid internship," says Moira Weigel. "If you look sharp, you might get a free lunch”... more »


Oct. 25, 2016 | Two pillars of physics – general relativity and quantum mechanics -- have been borne out in countless experiments. But they contradict each other... more »


Oct. 24, 2016 | Singleness is thought of as a transitory state, a way station en route to marriage. For Emily Witt, it was a way of life... more »


Oct. 22, 2016 | When Clive James met David Hockney, they discussed Picasso. Hockney had so much to say, recalls James. "I still count this as one of the great conversations of my life"... more »


Oct. 21, 2016 | Screens consume our attention, of course, but they also change the way we look at the world. What happens online increasingly shapes how we feel offline... more »


Oct. 20, 2016 | Alfred Hitchcock was scared of heights, policemen, imprisonment, and other people. But his neuroses meshed well with his talent. The result: a superb fantasist of fear... more »


Oct. 19, 2016 | The amiability and productivity of Jean Cocteau stemmed from a despairing thought: The world is a misunderstanding... more »


Oct. 18, 2016 | At age 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor started walking across Europe in search of erotic, alcoholic, intellectual, and courageous escapades. He never stopped... more »


Oct. 17, 2016 | Fiction in a time of climate change. John Updike defined the novel as an “individual moral adventure.” Not so for Amitav Ghosh, who thinks a collective aesthetic is needed now... more »


Oct. 15, 2016 | Degas vs. Manet, Matisse vs. Picasso, Pollock vs. de Kooning, Bacon vs. Freud. Other than knives through canvases and sexual intrigue, what makes an artistic rivalry memorable?... more »


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