Dec. 28, 2015 | Much used — and abused — but little understood, realpolitik is about not only the art of the possible but also the messiness of politics... more »


Dec. 26, 2015 | Beethoven was full of noble aspiration: The Fifth Symphony makes everything seem possible. But applied to his personal life, it led to disaster... more »


Dec. 25, 2015 | Chimen Abramsky made room in his London home for 20,000 volumes, including first editions by Spinoza and Marx. Meet one of the 20th
century’s great bibliophiles... more »


Dec. 24, 2015 | Harry Frankfurt insists that his abstract, philosophical ruminations on inequality have no relevance to social or
political policy. Bullshit... more »


Dec. 23, 2015 | Ted Hughes believed that poetry originates from injury: The deeper the wound, the better the art. Yet some of his best poetry predates his worst wounds... more »


Dec. 22, 2015 | When biographies exonerate. Publication of an extremely charitable biography of Ezra Pound underscores a turn toward moral relativism in the genre... more »


Dec. 21, 2015 | When Martin Luther nailed an essay to the door of a German church, he forever altered what books look like and how they're marketed and written... more »


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 »


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