Oct. 27, 2015 | Can stories about paintings teach us more than the paintings themselves? Yes, says Julian Barnes, even if the stories are false... more »


Oct. 26, 2015 | He was terrified of spiders, women, and disappointing his mother. Yet his writing was unsparing, even fearless. The question of Primo Levi... more »


Oct. 24, 2015 | As a child, Charlotte Brontë displayed creative powers that verged on insanity. Her imagination mitigated the harshness of her life... more »


Oct. 23, 2015 | Orson Welles and the myth of the self-destructive auteur. Yes, he was difficult. But his late-career slide was less a mark of failure than of integrity... more »


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 »


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