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


April 1, 2016 | The Marx Brothers were antic, zany, madcap, anarchic. Yet scholars and critics insist on attaching deep significance to the act. Groucho would object... more »


March 31, 2016 | A typical German owns 10,000 objects. Britain is home to six billion items of clothing. How we became a world of consumers... more »


March 30, 2016 | Susan Jacoby is a champion of irreligion. But perhaps despite herself, she makes the subject of religion contagiously interesting... more »


March 29, 2016 | What can be gleaned about English grammar from a close examination of newspapers and magazines published on December 29, 2008? ... more »


March 28, 2016 | Digital memory is ubiquitous and inexpensive yet unimaginably fragile. Result: The history of the 21st century will be riddled with silences... more »


March 26, 2016 | In 1972, Joseph Brodsky, expelled from the Soviet Union, arrived in America. He'd become exactly what he didn't want to be: a dissident... more »


March 25, 2016 | Culture shapes language, and language shapes culture. Moral change is therefore partly driven by semantic change. Charles Taylor explains... more »


March 24, 2016 | Eleven books of short stories, eight of poetry, four children’s books, five nonfiction: How did Kay Boyle find time for husbands, children, and lovers?... more »


March 23, 2016 | Finding Franz. Musings on beer, reports of the color of his eyes, a (failed) scheme to strike it rich: 99 ways of looking at Kafka... more »


March 22, 2016 | By day Wallace Stevens was a casually racist insurance executive. By night he confronted the basic questions of art and life... more »


March 21, 2016 | Adventures in lepidoptery. Nabokov regarded his 14-hour days producing comparative analyses of butterfly genitalia as the most rewarding of his life  ... more »


March 19, 2016 | What is existentialism? The loosely defined current of thought became an intellectual movement in 1932 at a cafe in Paris... more »


March 18, 2016 | This history of the 20th-century literary world is one of artistic insecurity. “What I suffer from,” said Alfred Kazin, is “the lack of  a working philosophy”... more »


March 17, 2016 | King of the rock 'n' roll underworld? David Litvinoff was an aficionado of head-shaving, a vicious lowlife, and, says Eric Clapton, "a stupendous intellect"... more »


March 16, 2016 | Stefan Zweig’s endless retreat. Devoid of political conviction, the displaced Austrian essayist wandered Europe, writing hymns to fraternity and brotherhood... more »


March 15, 2016 | The ancient world had no conflict between science and religion. But there was a lot of doubt. Indeed, doubt about religion is as old as religion itself... more »


March 14, 2016 | How Stanley Fish, literary theorist and scholar of 17th-century poetry, became a newspaper columnist. Hint: It's the way he thinks, not the views he espouses... more »


March 12, 2016 | Sam Harris's science of morality is intuitive, appealing - and unjustified. Science itself cannot determine human values... more »


March 11, 2016 | Hannah Arendt tends to be seen as a quintessentially European thinker. But she became an American citizen in 1951. And America changed her... more »


March 10, 2016 | Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens, a sweeping and celebrated history of humankind, falls prey to the great intellectual temptation of our age: to reduce everything to science... more »


March 9, 2016 | The business of surviving as a writer has always been precarious, and it remains so: The average professional earns $16,000 a year... more »


March 8, 2016 | A book can open up the world. Death is integral to that world. Sontag, Sendak, Updike, Freud: What happens when a writer reaches the end?... more »


March 7, 2016 | What fiction is for. Offering insight into humanity that cannot be replicated by psychology, sociology, or any of the social sciences... more »


March 5, 2016 | Cynicism, romance, reality, grit: the private eye. His ambivalent appeal – a good person forced into dirty work – inspired an exacting literary style... more »


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