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 »


July 29, 2015 | The invention of worrying. Born in the 19th century, it blossomed with literary modernism and with society’s renewed faith in personal freedom... more »


July 28, 2015 | Culture has declined and society has gone to the dogs in every age. Frivolity is forever on the rise. But for Mario Vargas Llosa, this time is different.... more »


July 27, 2015 | Copernicus, Darwin, and ... Ernest Lawrence? He ushered in the era of Big Science, transforming the way knowledge advances... more »


July 25, 2015 | There is nothing inherently economic about picking cashews out of a bowl at a dinner party — unless you're a behavioral economist... more »


July 24, 2015 | Though at home in the literary and intellectual circles of London and Paris, T.S. Eliot never lost his wry affection for what he called “Amurrican culchur”... more »


July 23, 2015 | We picture Joan Didion as either young and nonchalant, smoking a cigarette, or elderly and grieving. Through it all she's held the world at a distance... more »


July 22, 2015 | “What pleases the public is always what’s most banal,” wrote van Gogh. Does our obsession with Sunflowers” suggest that his own work has lapsed into banality?... more »


July 21, 2015 | Sir Thomas Browne, a minor writer with a major style, is credited with 784 neologisms, including "electricity,”  “hallucination,”  “ferocious,” and “swaggy.” But a model thinker for our time? Not quite... more »


July 20, 2015 | Three lives in nine objects: How tattered love letters and a portable writing desk reveal Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë... more »


July 18, 2015 | The unbearable maleness of the philosophy department. Blame the gladiatorial element, the misguided definition of “brilliance,” the curriculum... more »


July 17, 2015 | When it comes to criticism, Kingsley Amis said it best: “If you can’t annoy somebody with what you write, there’s little point in writing.” That spirit is in far too short supply... more »


July 16, 2015 | Harper Lee’s nonsensical string of clichés, Go Set a Watchman, materialized so mysteriously. A neat example of exploitative publishing... more »


July 15, 2015 | When literary society was glamorous. The historian Antonia Fraser enjoyed gardens and cricket, danced with T.S. Eliot, and was instructed by Queen Elizabeth to have a fling... more »


July 14, 2015 | Moral philosophers say we’re lazy, scared, and immature. The solution? “Grow up!” Too bad the diagnosis doesn’t consider actual human beings... more »


July 13, 2015 | The speechwriter. To put words in the mouth of public officials is to realize the meaninglessness of words in public life... more »


July 11, 2015 | The Middle Ages are derided as a time both reprehensible and ridiculous. Nonsense! Those years were not dark but alive with technology, art, curiosity, capitalism... more »


July 10, 2015 | Entrenched and unacknowledged Anglocentrism. Today’s academic debates suffer linguistically. Why? They take place in English... more »


July 9, 2015 | Success for a literary magazine: longevity, influence, readership, financial stability, imitators. But they all depend on offering the strange and new... more »


July 8, 2015 | Feminism has altered how we live, and those changes are joyful and terrible. Few grasp this with the unflinching wisdom of Vivian Gornick... more »


July 7, 2015 | Life in a time of mass starvation. Lena Mukhina was 16 when the German army began its siege of Leningrad. She survived. Sort of... more »


July 6, 2015 | To be immersed in Victorian-era politics, as was H.G. Wells, was to be engaged in a fierce debate among Darwinians, Malthusians, and eugenicists... more »


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