Aug. 27, 2015 | Why are you reading Keats but not Barry Cornwall, Austen but not Mary Brunton? Fame is a fickle blessing – how is it conferred?... more »


Aug. 26, 2015 | Consider the octopus. "Devil-fish," according to Victor Hugo; Pliny called no animal more savage in causing the death of man. But oh, so intelligent and perceptive... more »


Aug. 25, 2015 | How the Holocaust became possible. It arose not from an absence of state authority but from one state's destroying the authority of others... more »


Aug. 24, 2015 | Vast, monochrome, stern, unyielding: This is the image of Communist buildings. Yet there is no easy connection between ideology and architecture... more »


Aug. 22, 2015 | The incongruities of Agnes Martin. A dedicated ascetic, she loved BMWs, margaritas, and steak. An admirer of the ocean, she lived in the desert... more »


Aug. 21, 2015 | Young T.S. Eliot. Virginia Woolf feared him; Ezra Pound envied him; Bertrand Russell respected him – though not enough to decline an affair with Eliot’s wife... more »


Aug. 20, 2015 | Leonard and Virginia Woolf, unhappy couple. A mosquito-infested honeymoon, a history of insanity, a lack of sex... more »


Aug. 19, 2015 | We are doomed by mass idiocy, half-wit artists, and obscurantist academics. Intellectual life as we knew it is dead. Or so says Mario Vargas Llosa... more »


Aug. 18, 2015 | The culture wars are over, long live the culture wars! On the Internet, new participants battle on. Has it all become an ideological sideshow?... more »


Aug. 17, 2015 | “The childish urge to understand everything doesn’t fade when the time approaches for you to do the most adult thing: vanish.” So Clive James keeps reading... more »


Aug. 15, 2015 | How to understand writing. Ignore the two Jacques (Derrida and Lacan) and focus on what actual people write — Facebook posts, G-chats, tweets... more »


Aug. 14, 2015 | Think James Wood is too literary, too devoted to intellect? Then consider his use of the word “life,” and the primacy he gives to physical existence... more »


Aug. 13, 2015 | A modern paradox: Most of us lead lives more secure than our ancestors’, yet we're more anxious about the prospect of violence. Why?... more »


Aug. 12, 2015 | Was Nabokov an American writer? He thought so. "I am as American as April in Arizona," he said. But where did his "Charles Atlas muscle-man" prose style originate?... more »


Aug. 11, 2015 | Sex laws and sex lives. Efforts to police the boundaries of desire have everywhere and always been inconsistent and illogical. But prudery endures... more »


Aug. 10, 2015 | Rousseau gained fame in 1749, with the onset of ideas that continue to bewitch and bedevil, and of thinkers who continue to disappoint... more »


Aug. 8, 2015 | More than 40 English translations of The Iliad in the 19th century, another 30 in the 20th, and eight in the 21st: Do we really need another one? ... more »


Aug. 7, 2015 | Why did the financial crisis of 2008 ignite a movement on behalf of capitalism, not against it? Blame the '60s and its excessive individualism... more »


Aug. 6, 2015 | Faithism — a belief in belief, the moral and social benefits of religion, and the compatibility of science and religion — is almost certainly untenable... more »


Aug. 5, 2015 | Semiotics, Bauhaus design, New Criticism, poststructuralism: all have been put to corporate and government use. What's next? The digital humanities... more »


Aug. 4, 2015 | Naked is what you are when you haven't got your clothes on. Nude is what you are when you have intentionally taken your clothes off. Here's why the difference matters... more »


Aug. 3, 2015 | Serious reading — careful, creative, difficult reading — is in serious danger. We are empowered like never before to choose not to read... more »


Aug. 1, 2015 | The universe is governed by laws that promote order, pattern, symmetry, and simplicity, says Frank Wilczek. Our world is an embodiment of beautiful ideas... more »


July 31, 2015 | “It has been my nightmare,” said Germaine Greer, “that Tolkien would turn out to be the most influential writer of the 20th century." Her nightmare has come true... more »


July 30, 2015 | The epistemology of the fart. Scholars tend to overlook scatological aspects of the literary canon. A new book rectifies that -- it takes "shiterature" seriously... more »


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