Sept. 15, 2016 | Literary biography meets the anecdote-proof life. Wallace Stevens loved long walks, gifts from Ceylon, and persimmons. Does knowing that help us understand his poetry?... more »


Sept. 14, 2016 | Clive James, bingewatcher. He's an incisive and discerning critic. But it's his affection for the abysmal that distinguishes his taste in television... more »


Sept. 13, 2016 | The struggles of August Wilhelm Schlegel. He defined Romanticism, pioneered Indology, and translated Shakespeare into German. He also managed to alienate almost everyone along the way ... more »


Sept. 12, 2016 | A world without cats. They're cute, but don't be fooled: They're a menace to animal society. Is it morally acceptable to sacrifice one species over another?... more »


Sept. 10, 2016 | Born "ordinary, hillbilly, and poor," Helen Gurley Brown made her life a monument to artifice and the belief that any problem could be redeemed by humor and an upbeat ending.... more »


Sept. 9, 2016 | The forces of reaction, on the right and the left, have shadowed European thought for centuries. Mark Lilla explores a cast of mind... more »


Sept. 8, 2016 | Campaign season: a quadrennial procession of academics advancing obtuse theories on the electorate. Here comes a Berkeley sociologist dripping condescension... more »


Sept. 7, 2016 | The desire to conclude with a clear moral can lead writers to try to bring closure. This awkwardness rarely pays off, especially when the topic is marital angst... more »


Sept. 6, 2016 | "The Grande Decoration," Monet's multipart installation project, preoccupied the last decade of his life. It was a period of vacillation, self-doubt, and selfishness... more »


Sept. 5, 2016 | Black-shag tobacco, horse dung, camphor, boiled cabbage, dishwater, body odor: What to make of George Orwell's olfactory obsessions?... more »


Sept. 3, 2016 | The founding tenets of modernity – liberalism, democracy, personal autonomy – are giving way to a new religion: Dataism. Its adherents believe in the triumph of information... more »


Sept. 2, 2016 | Tom Wolfe has long been deft at skewering the pompous, the status-seeking, the class-conscious. His new target: Darwin. Wolfe comes armed not with evidence, but with sarcasm... more »


Aug. 31, 2016 | The vanishing Christian intellectual. Auden, Eliot, Lewis, Niebuhr once dominated public discourse and dotted the covers of Time. Where are their descendants?... more »


Aug. 30, 2016 | Benjamin vs. Brecht. Their chess matches pitted the mercurial self-confidence of Brecht against the quiet focus of Benjamin. Brecht usually won... more »


Aug. 29, 2016 | There is a vast literature on Wagner: his politics, philosophical ambition, and anti-Semitism. Is it any longer possible to really hear the music?... more »


Aug. 27, 2016 | Rousseau, Nietzsche, Isaiah Berlin, Leo Strauss — the history of modernism is full of pessimists. But modernity is about more than great books... more »


Aug. 26, 2016 | Forgiveness, stuck in the past, is not all it’s said to be. Martha Nussbaum ponders some alternatives... more »


Aug. 25, 2016 | A 14th-century Egyptian bureaucrat’s compilation of human knowledge includes the price of chickens, an encounter with a lion, and formulae for enlarging the penis... more »


Aug. 24, 2016 | Jacob Neusner published more than 1,000 books. Being the most published person in history became his trademark. That and falling out with everyone he knew... more »


Aug. 23, 2016 | Felix Weil was the heir to a great grain fortune. He could have asked his father for anything. He asked for a Marxist academic institute. Thus the Frankfurt School... more »


Aug. 22, 2016 | “Free at last, with no money troubles, and able to love, to sing, and to die,” Paul Gauguin wrote about Polynesia, as a member of the "exote school of art"... more »


Aug. 20, 2016 | The wittiest British writer? Saki, aka Hector Hugh Munro. His writing is full of lunatic clarity: cows could be murderers; ferrets, gods... more »


Aug. 19, 2016 | Was the Holocaust a single event or a post-hoc label for disparate events? The reality seems to be a strange mixture of intent and improvisation... more »


Aug. 18, 2016 | The flâneur: urban idler, dawdler, roaming thinker. But for women, the relationship between thinking and walking is vexed. A history of the flâneuse... more »


Aug. 17, 2016 | What is forgiveness? A victim can't separate the wrong from the wrongdoer. And the wrongdoer can't remake himself. At most, we can hope for generosity... more »


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