Jan. 5, 2016 | When we’re sick, writing can help. But the illness memoir only occasionally rises to the level of literature. What was it about Audre Lorde, Susan Sontag, Oliver Sacks?... more »


Jan. 4, 2016 | Sex, violence, music: Frank Sinatra's life has been copiously documented. But when will his biographers move beyond uncritical adulation?... more »


Jan. 2, 2016 | Matt Ridley to pessimists: Relax, everything will eventually work itself out for the better, thanks to free markets and the evolution of ideas... more »


Jan. 1, 2016 | What draws us back, time and time again, to Augustine? Perhaps his frankness about descending into a “seething cauldron of lust”... more »


Dec. 31, 2015 | The Lord of the Rings, the country-house novel, the Mars bar. A culture curiously both high and low shapes the British national imagination... more »


Dec. 30, 2015 | Polyglot, erudite, dead at 48, Shahab Ahmed was a scholar of Islam. But he had contempt for the field of Islamic studies... more »


Dec. 29, 2015 | We read as detective-critics, uncovering meaning in the text. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Consider the limits of critique... more »


Dec. 28, 2015 | Much used — and abused — but little understood, realpolitik is about not only the art of the possible but also the messiness of politics... more »


Dec. 26, 2015 | Beethoven was full of noble aspiration: The Fifth Symphony makes everything seem possible. But applied to his personal life, it led to disaster... more »


Dec. 25, 2015 | Chimen Abramsky made room in his London home for 20,000 volumes, including first editions by Spinoza and Marx. Meet one of the 20th
century’s great bibliophiles... more »


Dec. 24, 2015 | Harry Frankfurt insists that his abstract, philosophical ruminations on inequality have no relevance to social or
political policy. Bullshit... more »


Dec. 23, 2015 | Ted Hughes believed that poetry originates from injury: The deeper the wound, the better the art. Yet some of his best poetry predates his worst wounds... more »


Dec. 22, 2015 | When biographies exonerate. Publication of an extremely charitable biography of Ezra Pound underscores a turn toward moral relativism in the genre... more »


Dec. 21, 2015 | When Martin Luther nailed an essay to the door of a German church, he forever altered what books look like and how they're marketed and written... more »


Dec. 19, 2015 | As a playwright, Arthur Miller was confident of his talent.  As an essayist, he played interested amateur. It was an act... more »


Dec. 18, 2015 | Oscar Wilde is often considered in terms of his relationship with men. But women — especially his mother, Jane — made Wilde who he was... more »


Dec. 17, 2015 | Beauty can mask and distort reality. It's often ugliness — its seams all unconcealed — that gets closest to the truth... more »


Dec. 16, 2015 | The key to editing a two-volume collection of T.S. Eliot's poetry? Preserving the essential weirdness that makes it so powerful... more »


Dec. 15, 2015 | Bernie Vonnegut studied how to manipulate the weather for military gain. That might explain the moral anxieties of his younger brother, Kurt... more »


Dec. 14, 2015 | Politics and lipstick. An explosion of new cosmetics coincided with revolutionary demands for women's rights. Coincidence? ... more »


Dec. 12, 2015 | In the wake of the Holocaust, a prolific Jewish historian started stealing from European archives. Was he a restitution warrior or simply a thief?... more »


Dec. 11, 2015 | Galileo worked on ballistics; Copernicus was an expert on monetary reform. The scientific revolution wasn’t what we think it was... more »


Dec. 10, 2015 | As a young poet, and later as a dispirited novelist, Stephen Spender kept his sexuality secret. A double life was practically essential for a writer in his day... more »


Dec. 9, 2015 | Two new anthologies expose the fault line of American fiction: the exclusive versus the eclectic. Missing from both is the truly avant-garde... more »


Dec. 8, 2015 | The debonair, courtly letters of Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark chronicle a time when art history was a path to wealth and power... more »


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