Nov. 23, 2016 | Awe, terror, and tech. Technological progress promises to solve our problems and turn the world into an Edenic garden. To some of us, that is a creepy notion... more »


Nov. 22, 2016 | To grow up in the Soviet Union was to celebrate suffering. It “justifies our hard and bitter life. For us, pain is an art”... more »


Nov. 21, 2016 | How to reconcile our stubbornly held view of Kafka as an unworldly neurotic, an "uncanny man bringing forth uncanny things," with his knack for slapstick and punch lines... more »


Nov. 19, 2016 | In 1969, a 13-part documentary made Kenneth Clark high culture’s classiest superstar. In his own mind he was just an aesthete, a mere popularizer... more »


Nov. 18, 2016 | Herbert Asquith, prime minister of Britain from 1908 to 1916, was a master epistolary flirt, which made him a weird kind of philanderer... more »


Nov. 17, 2016 | Between the world of the university and that of magazines, cultural critics like James Wood, A.O. Scott, and Mark Greif search for their place... more »


Nov. 16, 2016 | The pathological vision of Robert Bresson. The French filmmaker was so repelled by how people behaved in front of the camera that he hardly ever went to the movies... more »


Nov. 15, 2016 | Author photo, tours, readings, lectures, interviews: The modern hustle of the moderately successful writer. Elena Ferrante wanted none of it... more »


Nov. 14, 2016 | What should a left-leaning intellectual do when fascism is on the rise? Frankfurt School theorists of the 1930s lost faith in the power of their ideas... more »


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 »


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