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Timeless stories from our 170-year archive handpicked to speak to the news of the day.
This month, when Downton Abbey purrs, Rolls Royce–like, into its fifth season, I’ll be among the 10 million people who loyally tune in for the premiere; but I doubt I’ll…
The reticence of Penelope Fitzgerald
There were dozens of hippie acts in Haight-Ashbury in the late 1960s, but most people have only heard of a few: Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead.…
Most Americans are familiar with the 1787 compromise that sought to bring North-South equality to Congressional representation by counting slaves as three fifths of a person, or three fifths of…
The contradictions of Cass Sunstein
The story of a morbid curiosity
The evolution of a flawed species
Marilynne Robinson’s unsaved
Did Wonder Woman fail feminism?
Denis Johnson’s heart beats for the lowlifes and fuck-ups, drunks and speed freaks, the losers who are on their last score and the scavengers feeding on the edges of foreign…
The facts in the case of Haruki Murakami
Elena Ferrante’s existential fictions
Cyberspace” is where old footage — and old ignorant prejudice — lives forever. The term made its fictional debut in a monologue by the disgraced hacker hero of William Gibson’s…
The legacy of the First World War poets
New evidence on the old mystery of the Neanderthals
In the year 564 b.c., a pankratiast named Arrichion stepped into the ring at the Olympic games. Pankration was a nasty mélange of wrestling and boxing, very popular with the…
The horseman among myrtles, the four horns and four carpenters, the measuring line, the candlestick and two olive trees, the flying scroll, the women and the ephah, the four chariots:…
Creating the Lost Generation
The invention of the narcissist
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s encyclopedic novels
Robert Coover returns to realism
When five brightly balaclava’d members of the Pussy Riot collective climbed atop the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February 2012 to chant “Our Lady, Chase Putin…
Joshua Ferris’s half-baked novel of ideas
First, collect all the details you can on all the people you encounter — this will turn them into “characters.” Second, search this trove for the most interesting connections among the…
John Updike, Yes-Man
How the detective escaped his creator
Last fall, the Man Booker Prize, the premier award for fiction in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, announced that it was coming to America. Presumably Edward St. Aubyn had already…
The origins of today’s mass extinction
John Florio — lexicographer, raconteur, and supposed model for Shakespeare’s schoolmaster Holofernes, in Love’s Labour’s Lost — was born in London in 1553 to an unidentified Englishwoman and an Italian Protestant who’d…
The fickle career of Carl Van Vechten