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Timeless stories from our 170-year archive handpicked to speak to the news of the day.
Islam’s forgotten reformation
Can neuroscience finally explain consciousness?
Maurice Sendak once said that the subject of all his work was the “extraordinary heroism of children in the face of . . . a mostly indifferent adult world.” Nowhere…
An acquaintance once asked Mary Gaitskill and her then husband about their house, which sat at the edge of a college campus, surrounded by woods. I said it was nice…
Mary McCarthy’s sexual revolution
Mohsin Hamid’s displaced persons
Conversion tales are perennially popular, but there is less of an audience for stories about what comes after — the daily struggle to live out your faith when the first…
The problem with writing manuals
Elif Batuman takes on the M.F.A.
George Saunders is the most humane American writer working today. He need not ask, as Sheila Heti did in the title of her novel, how a person should be. He…
Paul Auster’s multitudes
Until the U.S. government got wind of it, the sharpest critic of the Mormon practice of polygamy was Joseph Smith’s legal wife, Emma. But as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explains in…
The allure of animal nature
Zadie Smith and the limits of being oneself
“I understand the large hearts of heroes,” wrote an ecstatic Walt Whitman in “Song of Myself”: The courage of present times and all times, How the skipper saw the crowded…
The inventions of Javier Marías
The rise and fall of the Romanovs
Hell hath no fury like a Hitchcock scorned. After the fat man with the famous profile signed Tippi Hedren to a seven-year contract and put her through what was then…
Why TV Got Good
The Saga of Halldór Laxness
The inscrutable sincerity of Nell Zink
Thomas De Quincey’s bad habits
A motley crew steers Anne Carson’s FLOAT (Knopf, $30). There’s Edmund Husserl, Jean-Luc Godard, Joan of Arc, Pablo Picasso, mad Hölderlin, Hegel, a chorus of Gertrude Steins, and Carson’s noble,…
Jonathan Safran Foer’s authorial intrusions
The meaning of the game
Thirty-six ways of looking at the aphorism
It doesn’t matter that Ursula K. Le Guin has been winning awards for writing about aliens, wizards, and imaginary worlds since the 1960s — the label “science fiction” gives her…
Across the seven volumes of the Recherche, Proust mentions only one living artist by name — the fashion designer Mariano Fortuny. “Is it their historical character, or is it rather…
The rise of Trump
The return of the Brat Pack