June 11, 2016 | Why poets hate poetry. Actual poems never live up to our hopes for them. As a result, Ben Lerner writes, “poetry isn’t hard, it’s impossible"... more »

June 10, 2016 | Taste in an age of endless choice. Aesthetic preferences help to construct identity. But in learning what we like, have we forgotten what we love?... more »

June 9, 2016 | The greatest crime in literary history was the destruction of Byron’s memoir. What was in it: Domestic abuse? Sodomy? Incest? Probably all three... more »

June 8, 2016 | Klaus Mann: published in his teens, a celebrity in his 20s, a fixture among the cultural elite. But he couldn't cope with having Thomas Mann as a father ... more »

June 7, 2016 | Evolution is “biased towards the marvelous,” says Thomas Nagel. Just picture it: “the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself”... more »

June 6, 2016 | When Joe Gould was immortalized by Joseph Mitchell, both their lives became mired in mythology. Then Jill Lepore decided to poke around... more »

June 4, 2016 | Museums are repositories of natural history, material culture, and artistic excellence. They are not meant to atone for past sins or to address social ills... more »

June 3, 2016 | The majority of philosophers in history have not had Ph.D.s. They were not members of organizations. They were gadflys, sages, mandarins, courtiers... more »

June 2, 2016 | Helen Gurley Brown reviews a biography of Helen Gurley Brown: "My 90 years were just divine! And, oh, the sex! I averaged 10 lovers a year! How else do you learn?"... more »

June 1, 2016 | It’s odd that poetry can inspire hatred, and yet denunciations of the genre have been lobbed for centuries. It all started with Plato... more »

May 31, 2016 | A conservative's mind. Russell Kirk articulated a conservatism that served as a means, a mood, an attitude, but never conformed to any party or movement... more »

May 30, 2016 | Poets, pimps, rogues, sycophants, dreamers: Scribbling for money on 18th-century Grub Street... more »

May 28, 2016 | We remember her German years, but the current climate demands a different Hannah Arendt, one we have forgotten: philosopher of statelessnes... more »

May 27, 2016 | The Kama Sutra has long been misunderstood as a handbook on what to do in bed. It is, in fact, a series of devious strategies for seduction... more »

May 26, 2016 | Have you ever wanted to be a badger? A goat? The long, weird history of artists and intellectuals trying to become animals involves Tolstoy, Joyce, Heidegger... more »

May 25, 2016 | Cultural critics and English professors face the same problem: How to articulate a positive case for art and literature, and talk as if they actually matter... more »

May 24, 2016 | Want to eat like Alfred Hitchcock? Learn what Joan Crawford thrived on, apart from anger, spite, and bile? Now there's a book for that... more »

May 23, 2016 | How to describe late Henry James? Rebarbatively abstract, recondite, complicated, confusing -- all true. It's his difficulty that helps makes him worth reading... more »

May 21, 2016 | Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoyevsky regarded Alexander Herzen as one of the finest prose writers. Then Lenin praised him, and his reputation never recovered... more »

May 20, 2016 | A tale of two architects. Frank Lloyd Wright, genius; Philip Johnson, highbrow aesthete. How were they rivals when one so eclipsed the other?... more »

May 19, 2016 | The Romanovs ruled for 304 years, a reign that was particularly bleak for women yet great for female rulers... more »

May 18, 2016 | Wittgenstein’s charisma. He lived philosophy as a personal struggle. That made him severe, ruthless, censorious, and depressed. And bewitching... more »

May 17, 2016 | So you want to have a baby. Why leave anything -- gender, intelligence, personality, propensity for disease -- to chance? Welcome to the future of sex-free reproduction... more »

May 16, 2016 | Burglars remake the built environment to conform to their own needs, upending basic assumptions about how buildings work.... more »

May 14, 2016 | How plot works. Flashbacks, prefigurations, parallel subplots all rest on the subtle relationship between chronology and artistic effect... more »

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