April 30, 2016 | Stalin's henchmen. Vile murderers and treacherous cowards, they were also a musical bunch. They could have made a competent chamber ensemble... more »


April 29, 2016 | It’s all well and good, intellectually, to praise forgetting. But collective amnesia is something else entirely. Where to draw the line?... more »


April 28, 2016 | The history of virility - Henry VIII’s codpiece, Louis XIV's dancing - was a lively topic. Then a team of French academics went to work... more »


April 27, 2016 | Sexism across the centuries. In classical music, the torch of white, male genius is passed from generation to generation. Time to reconsider female composers... more »


April 26, 2016 | The Aeneid plays an outsize role in the cultural literacy of the West. A reminder of the confusing and disturbing pleasures of epic narrative... more »


April 25, 2016 | Blanche and Alfred Knopf had a simple plan: “We would get married and make books and publish them.” Reality was more complicated - and interesting... more »


April 23, 2016 | How did a Velázquez painting from 1623 emerge in the back of an English bookshop two centuries later? That question drove one man to ruin... more »


April 22, 2016 | A metaphor creates a "little event in the mind of the reader." It can make the familiar strange and the strange familiar... more »


April 21, 2016 | The beauty of Brutalism. Those bold and passionate concrete monstrosities mark a high point of architectural creativity and ingenuity... more »


April 20, 2016 | What's it like to be a bat? A bonobo? A lot of ingenuity has gone into answering that question. Conclusion: Don't underestimate nonhuman minds... more »


April 19, 2016 | Authenticity is overrated. It's pretense and flagrant artifice that create culture. We'd have no art without it... more »


April 18, 2016 | Growing up Mann. Thomas was distant and severe to his six children, who lacked his talent. In Klaus, this produced a fascinating and tragic restlessness ... more »


April 16, 2016 | What word-processing wrought. The shift from typewriter to computer changed the way artists and intellectuals wrote. Derrida, for one, saw that his paragraphs were too long... more »


April 15, 2016 | A puzzle of the French Revolution: Paris was alive with scientific progress, yet many scientists were imprisoned or murdered... more »


April 14, 2016 | If Christopher Hitchens was so good — clever, fearless, well read — why so bad? If he was so right, why so wrong?... more »


April 13, 2016 | What makes a dog a dog? Forty-two teeth, advanced auditory and olfactory senses, tight-knit social structure. But really it's all about food... more »


April 12, 2016 | Aged, skeletal, pancaked in makeup, Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmo’s major-domo, was the philosopher-queen of "the will to please"... more »


April 11, 2016 | Twain's autobiography - uncut, unexpurgated, unchronological - clocks in at half a million words. An uproarious and unmitigated delight, right? Well... more »


April 9, 2016 | Often dandyish on the page, Wallace Stevens could be vicious in person. He traded punches with Hemingway. He lost... more »


April 8, 2016 | Hobsbawm, Foucault, Dworkin, Lacan — how far to the left were the thinkers of the New Left? Roger Scruton’s answer may surprise you... more »


April 7, 2016 | Pornography and its discontents. Consider life in a sexual utopia, a “pornutopia” in which anyone is up for anything. Result: Boredom... more »


April 6, 2016 | Charlotte Brontë’s awkwardness. The unrequited love, the early-morning wedding, the incident with the hairpiece -- her social life was in her writing... more »


April 5, 2016 | The “taint” of commerce. When art becomes a stand-in for wealth and political influence, where does that leave those who collect for sake of collecting?... more »


April 4, 2016 | Thomas De Quincey's journey from riches to rags to posthumous fame as an opium eater began on a cheerless Sunday in 1804... more »


April 2, 2016 | Museum work in America has always required an unusual mixture of scholarship, showmanship, and prodigous talent for raising money... more »


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