Dec. 19, 2015 | As a playwright, Arthur Miller was confident of his talent.  As an essayist, he played interested amateur. It was an act... more »


Dec. 18, 2015 | Oscar Wilde is often considered in terms of his relationship with men. But women — especially his mother, Jane — made Wilde who he was... more »


Dec. 17, 2015 | Beauty can mask and distort reality. It's often ugliness — its seams all unconcealed — that gets closest to the truth... more »


Dec. 16, 2015 | The key to editing a two-volume collection of T.S. Eliot's poetry? Preserving the essential weirdness that makes it so powerful... more »


Dec. 15, 2015 | Bernie Vonnegut studied how to manipulate the weather for military gain. That might explain the moral anxieties of his younger brother, Kurt... more »


Dec. 14, 2015 | Politics and lipstick. An explosion of new cosmetics coincided with revolutionary demands for women's rights. Coincidence? ... more »


Dec. 12, 2015 | In the wake of the Holocaust, a prolific Jewish historian started stealing from European archives. Was he a restitution warrior or simply a thief?... more »


Dec. 11, 2015 | Galileo worked on ballistics; Copernicus was an expert on monetary reform. The scientific revolution wasn’t what we think it was... more »


Dec. 10, 2015 | As a young poet, and later as a dispirited novelist, Stephen Spender kept his sexuality secret. A double life was practically essential for a writer in his day... more »


Dec. 9, 2015 | Two new anthologies expose the fault line of American fiction: the exclusive versus the eclectic. Missing from both is the truly avant-garde... more »


Dec. 8, 2015 | The debonair, courtly letters of Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark chronicle a time when art history was a path to wealth and power... more »


Dec. 7, 2015 | Iris Murdoch said she was "capable of being in love with about six men at once.” Something about the sexual as well as intellectual thrill of the student–teacher relationship... more »


Dec. 5, 2015 | The inimitable Lucia Berlin. Neither feminist nor fantasist nor fabulist, she was a switchboard operator -- and a severely underappreciated writer... more »


Dec. 4, 2015 | Marianne Moore didn't plumb the deeper meanings of her poetry. "I am governed by the pull of a sentence as the pull of a fabric is governed by gravity"... more »


Dec. 3, 2015 | In praise of pessimism. It’s the anxious cynics among us who tend to get things right, both politically and artistically... more »


Dec. 2, 2015 | We've been treated to memoirs by New Yorker staff writers, editors, even a receptionist. Why does the magazine inspire such documentary zeal?... more »


Dec. 1, 2015 | What we want from fiction: emotional intimacy, the opportunity to transcend the barrier of self-consciousness that constrains us... more »


Nov. 30, 2015 | Joan Didion's writing remains fresh because it captures both the ambition of hopeful beginnings and the dignity of grief and survival... more »


Nov. 28, 2015 | Sometimes what passes as writerly craft is actually the product of a political agenda. Consider the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the 1950s... more »


Nov. 27, 2015 | Castro and the intellectuals. Why did so many American leftists embrace the Cuban revolution? It was a retreat into fantasy... more »


Nov. 26, 2015 | Have you forsaken the possibility of transcendence and settled for a life of safety and predictability? Blame Shakespeare and Freud... more »


Nov. 25, 2015 | When T.S. Eliot married Valerie Fletcher, he was nearly 70 and she was 30. Obscene poems followed. Explicitness, of course, is less erotic than suggestion... more »


Nov. 24, 2015 | Take it from a Cambridge-trained veterinarian: Evolution has made the lives of modern women a miserable swirl of moping about muffin tops. Oh, really?... more »


Nov. 23, 2015 | How to give. Ignore causes with which you have a personal connection. Give to charities that benefit the poorest people in the cheapest possible way... more »


Nov. 21, 2015 | Ancient Greece was replete with religion, but not the moral and metaphysical creeds we know. Greece was the birthplace of atheism... more »


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