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 »


Aug. 16, 2016 | “Everywhere there was somewhere and everywhere there they were men women children dogs cows..." Gertrude Stein wrote a children's book... more »


Aug. 15, 2016 | Eulogies are not a genre noted for honesty — the origin of the word, after all, is “to speak well.” What are the benefits of truth when speaking of the dead?... more »


Aug. 13, 2016 | Boas, bugs, and backscratchers, cockroaches and condors, the evil eye and the history of toast. In praise of the erudite eclecticism of the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica... more »


Aug. 12, 2016 | Justin E.H. Smith is battling against philosophical insularity - its overly male, overly white, overly Western biases. He's losing ... more »


Aug. 11, 2016 | Accused of plagiarism, T.S. Eliot annotated The Waste Land with notes about his sources. To his dismay, that kickstarted the critical practice of allusion-hunting... more »


Aug. 10, 2016 | Frederick Law Olmsted created a profession - landscape architecture - and stumbled onto an ironic truth: It takes a lot of artifice to create “natural” scenery... more »


Aug. 9, 2016 | For as long as human cultures have existed anywhere, we have buried our dead. What's changed is the place the dead occupy in our lives... more »


Aug. 8, 2016 | Jungian theory emerged from the dynamics of Carl's marriage: a mercurial husband who strays, a wife who brings up the children and puts her own ambition on hold ... more »


Aug. 6, 2016 | An “uncouth, neurotic, psychopathic murderer-poet.” Robert Lowell was mad. And when he was mad he fell in love. His affairs were all the same: intense and fleeting... more »


Aug. 5, 2016 | Marx’s views were occasionally prescient, often wrong-headed, sometimes repugnant. But they had little in common with what later came to be understood as Marxism... more »


Aug. 4, 2016 | In praise of Cynthia Ozick, "a sorceress of silken prose, wholly incapable of platitude, of cliché, of even the stray dead phrase"... more »


Aug. 3, 2016 | It took 51 years for Don Quixote to be widely translated. Today it would take mere months. Still, there are consequences for writing that’s “born translated”... more »


Aug. 2, 2016 | "Poetry is like an old clock that stops ticking from time to time and needs to be violently shaken to get it running again." Enter Jana Prikryl... more »


Aug. 1, 2016 | Much of what we do isn’t the result of a calculation of consequences, but an expression of our sense of identity. Such is often the case with terrorism... more »


July 30, 2016 | Life of Liszt. People have been writing about his virtuosity, charisma, and affairs since the 1830s. What’s left to say?... more »


July 29, 2016 | Nietzsche's politics were unsavory and harsh, but prescient. He understood the attraction to nationalism, racism, parochialism, and insularity ... more »


July 28, 2016 | Cervantes’s career as a soldier ended in injury, not glory. But rather than cynical, he became ambivalent, as his characters showed... more »


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