May 20, 2016 | A tale of two architects. Frank Lloyd Wright, genius; Philip Johnson, highbrow aesthete. How were they rivals when one so eclipsed the other?... more »


May 19, 2016 | The Romanovs ruled for 304 years, a reign that was particularly bleak for women yet great for female rulers... more »


May 18, 2016 | Wittgenstein’s charisma. He lived philosophy as a personal struggle. That made him severe, ruthless, censorious, and depressed. And bewitching... more »


May 17, 2016 | So you want to have a baby. Why leave anything -- gender, intelligence, personality, propensity for disease -- to chance? Welcome to the future of sex-free reproduction... more »


May 16, 2016 | Burglars remake the built environment to conform to their own needs, upending basic assumptions about how buildings work.... more »


May 14, 2016 | How plot works. Flashbacks, prefigurations, parallel subplots all rest on the subtle relationship between chronology and artistic effect... more »


May 13, 2016 | Courtier, politician, scientist, explorer: Sir Kenelm Digby, 17th-century English polymath, lived a literary life of rakish excess... more »


May 12, 2016 | A man of principle and an opportunist, scoundrel, snob, con man easily fooled, coward and hero, generous, mean, clever, stupid: the true Casanova... more »


May 11, 2016 | Slapstick and the Soviets. Charlie Chaplin turned industrial labor into a circus act. This connected with Petrograd's avant garde - at first... more »


May 10, 2016 | David Hume failed to get an academic job. Today he is a hero of academic philosophers. Why? His decorously veiled attacks on theism, for one thing... more »


May 9, 2016 | Loneliness is endemic to urban life: the acute feeling of isolation in a big crowd. Think of Warhol, surrounded always by people but never true friends... more »


May 7, 2016 | "Deviates are so widespread that they sometimes seem to be running a kind of closed shop.” That was Time in 1966 on gays in the arts. What was the Homintern?... more »


May 6, 2016 | How Patti Smith spends her days: On a bizarre, bohemian death cruise, taking blurry Polaroids of writers’ graves and meditating on pebbles... more »


May 5, 2016 | What word processing wrought. Easily, endlessly editable text lets you go on revising forever. It’s a blessing. And a curse... more »


May 4, 2016 | If secularism is a powerful force, why is it so often on the losing side of history? Because religion is no atavistic holdover; it's here to stay... more »


May 3, 2016 | The cult of the unfinished. Incomplete paintings, sculptures, novels, and musical compositions are undeniably seductive - too seductive... more »


May 2, 2016 | Frank Gehry, known for egomaniacal arrogance and an inability to stick to a budget, made his name by turning a shack into a shrine... more »


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 »


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