Sacred Reading

Chad Wellmon

With the rise of humanism and modern critical scholarly practices in subsequent centuries, texts began to be treated as material objects to be fixed and plumbed for meaning.

The Witness of Literature

Alan Jacobs

To the arguments of Huxley and Tyndall against traditional religion, Yeats had no answer until literature and the other arts came to the rescue.

Better Living Through Bibliotherapy

Chad Wellmon and Paul Reitter

Majoring in English, the sales pitch now goes, will help you craft your soul.

No Ordinary Place

Clare Coffey

For some friends of the library, no defense of the stacks is necessary.

Tending the Digital Commons

Alan Jacobs

The complexities of social media ought to prompt deep reflection on what we all owe to the future, and how we might discharge this debt.

Virtuosos of Idleness

Charlie Tyson

Our crisis of work is accompanied by a crisis of idleness.

Good on Paper

Nan Z. Da

Books, reading, and literature cultivate “a way of being in time.”

The Auden Course

Wilfred M. McClay

Who could survive such a feast, let alone digest it?

Trajectory of a Dream

S.D. Chrostowska

Why do dreams, aside from those that prove uncannily prophetic, not befit our biography?

An Ever More Perfect Novel

Tyler Malone

The Great American Novel? Why are we still banging on about that old thing?

You Know This

John Thomason

A neglected hard-boiled novelist wrote on the greatest conspiracy of all.

Under the Sign of Sontag

Charlie Tyson

Could Sontag the woman ever live up to Sontag the persona?

There Is Simply Too Much More to Think About

Robert L. Kehoe III

To feel and give voice to the “more” of our humanity was Saul Bellow’s vocation.

The Book’s the Thing

Pano Kanelos

What is so compelling about a book?

Our Mindless and Our Damned

Antón Barba-Kay

Vampire and zombie stories are stories of a new mass folklore. But they have dreamt themselves into us for specific reasons.

Monstering

Vanessa Place

If we really wanted to kill the monster, we would give it what it wants.

Inviting Evil In

Paul A. Cantor

We have met the monsters, and they are us.

Season of the Witch

Becca Rothfeld

Today’s witches are no longer experts in the “occult.” Instead, they rush to aid the downtrodden—and to publish their potion recipes in best-selling how-to guides.

Desperately Seeking Mothman

Tara Isabella Burton

At their core, cryptids represent the triumph of the particular over the generic.

What Freud Got Right

Wilfred M. McClay

We might do a better job of living together if we believed that we are meant to do so.

Blood Sports

B.D. McClay

True crime is not quite about watching people die, but it does require an interest in the subject.

A Grand Turk in Washington

Kevin Blankinship

Writing a book about Thomas Jefferson means entering a very crowded field.

In Self-Isolation with The Plague

John Rosenthal

At the beginning of a plague, everyone is implicated.

The Amodernist

Jay Tolson

Péguy’s critical stance toward both broad coalitions made him neither a modernist nor an antimodernist, but something quite distinctive and instructive.

Ecce Homo

Leann Davis Alspaugh

That Edvard Munch never met Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the great missed encounters of the modern age.

With Friends Like These

B.D. McClay

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

The Critical Fate of the Major Novel

B.D. McClay

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; even smaller minds complain about the rest of these people.

Nature Writing Gets Personal

James McWilliams

After situating themselves in a “wild” context, both women do what the entire history of nature writing has implicitly instructed them not to do: they bring their emotional backpacks into the landscape.

Sluttery and Shakespeare

B.D. McClay

A translation of English to English presumes that ambiguity of language is always a flaw—but it’s not.

The Hedgehog Recommends

Some spooky stories for Halloween.

Black Oxygen

James McWilliams

Cormac McCarthy gives us 500 pages of idiosyncratic wordplay without even cheap narrative excitement. Who does he think he is? Joyce? Faulkner? Melville? Well, yes.

More Spooky Stories for Halloween

Spooky selections for your Halloween weekend

Scorsese’s Catholic Dilemma

Jeffrey Guhin

The question for Silence is not whether another world exists but how such a recognition should affect our lives here.

In Self-Isolation with The Plague

John Rosenthal

To the relatives of the dead, the plague is here. 

Firmness

Alan Jacobs

Time to adopt a new hero: Lew Archer, private detective.

Pruning the Mind During a Crisis

Margarita Mooney

Why should anyone focus on the life of the mind when individual and societal survival is threatened? 

The Machine Pauses

Stuart Whatley

It is precisely at such moments of technological dependency that one might consider interrogating one’s relationship with technology more broadly.

Against Projection; For Promise

Alan Jacobs

To make promises, to stand by one words, to be answerable for them, is to open oneself to blame.

The Uniqueness of the Here and Now

Cecile McWilliams

The solitude of sickness is not a waste of time but rather a compression of it, a bundle the size of a pill bottle.

Faulkner as Futurist

Carl Rollyson

Faulkner’s treatment of the past means much for the nature of our future.

How to Cook a Wolf Under Lockdown

Laurel Berger

My quarrel with M.F.K. Fisher was part of a larger quarrel I’ve been having with myself ever since we went to ground in March. 

Our Chekhov Moment

Eric B. Schnurer

Who will emerge as the new elite from this particular moment’s cast of winners and losers?

Alexander Herzen and the Plural World

Alan Jacobs

Herzen won’t stop striving for social transformation with every ounce of energy he has, but also won’t pick up Chernyshevsky’s axe.

Tortoises and Tigers: The Pleasures of a Long Read

Richard Hughes Gibson

Why read long books? Well, if you have to ask…