June 26, 2015 | Max Brod was a middling, if prolific, writer. He was also, of course, a close friend of Kafka. Together they explored museums, theaters – and brothels... more »


June 25, 2015 | Marriage, a fraught and mysterious institution, inspires both passion and pragmatism. Gabriel García Márquez called it “the conjugal conspiracy”... more »


June 24, 2015 | Whether glass, ruby red, or furry slippers; winged boots or glowing-hot iron shoes; footwear is a recurrent fairy-tale motif. Why?... more »


June 23, 2015 | Everything you know about perception is wrong – and it’s the fault of Western philosophers, starting with Descartes. Or so John Searle would have you think... more »


June 22, 2015 | The first literary duel: Hector and Achilles. Among the last: Allen Tate against Karl Shapiro, in 1948. The unlikeliest weapon: unsold books... more »


June 20, 2015 | In defense of pragmatic pessimism. As a corrective to the deluded optimism of the happiness industry, worrying is more essential than ever... more »


June 19, 2015 | The Japanese literary scene is plagued by rehashed American literature. Contemporary novelists are “brainless writers of crap.” Exhibit A: Haruki Murakami... more »


June 18, 2015 | The trouble with new nature writing. Books by Helen Macdonald and Robert Macfarlane purport to be about wildness. Why are they so tame?... more »


June 17, 2015 | How are children supposed to grow up, to become free, happy, decent adults? Answers are elusive in our infantile age... more »


June 16, 2015 | The challenges of translating Homer. How does one render magically appearing bathtubs or spears in two places at once? That depends. Is The Iliad art or accident?... more »


June 15, 2015 | A collection of biographies shows literature as a longtime refuge for sad sacks and self-destructors, a cynical celebration of spectacular failure... more »


June 13, 2015 | An aesthetic of shyness. Elizabeth Bishop wasn’t much for confession. In her life, as in her apartment, she craved “closets, closets, and more closets!”... more »


June 12, 2015 | Mary Shelley wasn’t overtly political in her seven novels, two travelogues, and 23 short stories. But the influence of her outspoken mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, is evident throughout... more »


June 11, 2015 | Roland Barthes regarded biography as “a novel which dare not speak its name.” He preferred to reduce life to a few distinct moments, details, inflections he called “biographemes”... more »


June 10, 2015 | Critics says Alain de Botton is a marketer of solipsism, a moron. But does their ire just highlight their own unwillingness to engage the public?... more »


June 9, 2015 | A guide to Jonathan Galassis Muse: Pepita Erskine = Susan Sontag; Sterling Wainwright = James Laughlin; Elliott Blossom = Harold Bloom. But who is The Nympho?... more »


June 8, 2015 | Boswell was at home in the salons of the Enlightenment, but he wasn't an enlightened thinker. Ask the women he pursued... more »


June 6, 2015 | What could have brought William F. Buckley and Norman Mailer together in friendship? For starters, both detested Gore Vidal... more »


June 5, 2015 | C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Catholic, homosexual, friend of Chesterton, Owen, Eliot, Waugh. Also war hero, spy, and the first English translator of Proust... more »


June 4, 2015 | Does evolution favor altruism? That cooperative groups prevail over uncooperative groups is an ascendant idea. That doesn’t mean it’s right... more »


June 3, 2015 | The closing of the French mind. Its way of thought has never quite recovered from the end of Communism and the fading of structuralism... more »


June 2, 2015 | Dave Hickey has a gift for unfashionable subjects, like Las Vegas and Liberace. An art critic of sorts, he’s also one of our best writers... more »


June 1, 2015 | In the 1950s, T.S. Eliot’s critical judgments were largely sacrosanct. By the 1980s, Harold Bloom had made a revolution in literary taste... more »


May 30, 2015 | The many myths of Alfred Hitchcock. Incarcerated at 4, beaten by Jesuits, left outside during a bombing raid: His trauma was part branding strategy... more »


May 29, 2015 | From 1948 to 1960, Nabokov wrote parts of Lolita, Pnin, and Speak, Memory. He was a writer transformed – an American, no longer a European aesthete... more »


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