Oct. 22, 2015 | Dietrich and Riefenstahl: two young women from traditional German homes who led unconventional lives. Both became prisoners of their art... more »


Oct. 21, 2015 | How a question about butter and refrigerators might free philosophy from its dead end and restore some common sense... more »


Oct. 20, 2015 | In 1934, Gerdy Troost, an interior designer, set about trying to satisfy the tacky taste and lowbrow pretentions of her new client: Hitler... more »


Oct. 19, 2015 | For one year, 1692, a Massachusetts town was convulsed by ... what, exactly? Twenty people were executed in Salem, and we're still wondering why... more »


Oct. 17, 2015 | Words are not up to the task of describing visual art. To experience art, focus on seeing, not telling... more »


Oct. 16, 2015 | Alexander von Humboldt: He hiked the Andes barefoot. He sailed straight into a hurricane. His quest for knowledge was voracious... more »


Oct. 15, 2015 | Can you make it through a review of a book about distraction without  checking your phone? Yeah, didn’t think so... more »


Oct. 14, 2015 | “The Donald Trump of American academia.” In an era of critical homogeneity, the contrarianism of brash and noisy Stanley Fish stands out... more »


Oct. 13, 2015 | The ennui of the killer in A Yi’s novella, A Perfect Crime, is both a critique of contemporary China and a question: “Is this all there is?”... more »


Oct. 12, 2015 | Before "ugly" there was "igly," "wgly," "oogly," "ungly," "hoggliche": Whatever the word, unattractiveness has a surprising cultural history... more »


Oct. 10, 2015 | "Death destroys a man; the idea of death saves him," said E.M. Forster. It is the fact of our demise that defines our experience of life... more »


Oct. 9, 2015 | At 27, Charlotte Brontë, a poor, despairing student, walked into a church confessional for the first time. Within a year, she was writing her first novel... more »


Oct. 8, 2015 | Literary biography is a tricky genre — facts scatter, evidence goes missing. For instance, was 1606 really “the year of Lear,” as a new book claims?... more »


Oct. 7, 2015 | Frank Stanford’s poetry doesn’t show up in major anthologies. But decades after his suicide, his “feral imagination” makes a comeback... more »


Oct. 6, 2015 | “Only connect”? Not so fast. The popularity of books by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Elena Ferrante shows our increasingly conflicted relationship with relationships... more »


Oct. 5, 2015 | The Ezra Pound way: Abrasive, provocative, morally tone deaf, he offered up a unique — and uniquely frightening — blend of propaganda, ridicule, invective, and poetry... more »


Oct. 3, 2015 | Tragedy and Ted Hughes. Extraordinarily charismatic, the poet didn’t mean to hurt the women in his life — but, invariably, he did... more »


Oct. 2, 2015 | The globalization of literature. While English has acquired elite literary status, other languages are dying at an unprecedented rate... more »


Oct. 1, 2015 | You know the Enlightenment. What about the Late Enlightenment, two decades when theater, literature, painting, and music gave voice to the concept of man's liberty?... more »


Sept. 30, 2015 | The strange case of the castrati. They were loved by men as well as women, were paid legendary sums, and were said to have secret powers... more »


Sept. 29, 2015 | Think Chekhov. What comes to mind? Disappointment, death, longing, loneliness. Yet young Anton was a workaday humor writer... more »


Sept. 28, 2015 | Not all writers have an interest in punctuation. Wordsworth didn't care. Twain, however, ordered a proofreader shot for attempting to improve his grammar... more »


Sept. 26, 2015 | The decades-long correspondence between Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark is marked by a tone of mutual affection. The knives came out in private... more »


Sept. 25, 2015 | The science of well-being is a pernicious project based on a mistaken assumption: that we can engineer our own happiness. Blame Jeremy Bentham... more »


Sept. 24, 2015 | William Styron once wrote that being a young novelist was like being a rock star. Ironic, because Styron’s own public persona was so boring... more »


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