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Timeless stories from our 170-year archive handpicked to speak to the news of the day.
In the nineteenth century, while the European novel was becoming the preeminent narrative form for grown-ups working through the grown-up problems of marriage, adultery, and career, Americans were writing adventure…
Torture, treachery, and the CIA
Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels of remembering
In 492 b.c., an Athenian tragedian named Phrynichus made the disastrous decision to premiere a play about recent political events — as far as we know, the first drama in…
Langston Hughes in letters
How the CIA infiltrated student politics
When inviting a bear from darkest Peru into your terraced London house, the first thing to do is increase the coverage on your homeowners’ insurance policy. “Yes, a bear .…
Mr. Earnshaw went to Liverpool and he came back with a boy: a “gipsy brat,” a thing hardly human, an “it” talking “over and over again some gibberish that nobody…
On the intellectual element in modern fiction
Walter Benjamin on the air
From a recently declassified article, written by an author whose name was redacted, published in the winter 1986 issue of Studies in Intelligence, the in-house journal of the CIA.
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
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?
The facts in the case of Haruki Murakami
Elena Ferrante’s existential fictions
The legacy of the First World War poets
New evidence on the old mystery of the Neanderthals
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
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…