Humanities

In Timbuktu with Jean Paul de Dadelsen

Two thousand and eleven, when palm trees without numberRustled, shading tomatoes and cucumbersAll around Timbuktu,And mental trees, planted by the town council,Offered orchards to every studious sibylAnd to sleepers too! This is the opening stanza of “The Orchards of Timbuktu” by Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, translated from the French by Marilyn

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Beethoven’s ‘Last Musical Thought’

Laura Tunbridge— In 1840, the Berlin publisher Heinrich Schlesinger published a short piano piece as the Dernière pensée musicale de Louis van Beethoven. It was not, in fact, Beethoven’s “last musical thought”; it was not even the first time it had been published. The same music had appeared in a supplement

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Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan

Anthony T. Kronman— I can now see that my anxious wish to master my world in thought has from the start been a longing to understand its relation to eternity, but without a God of the sort to whom Christians, Jews and Muslims pray. This is an intellectual longing, of

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In the Olive Orchard with Luigi Pirandello

Luigi Pirandello, the great twentieth-century Italian playwright, was also a maestro of the short story. In Virginia Jewiss’ introduction to her new translation of Pirandello’s short stories, she writes, “The Pirandello we meet here is a master storyteller, with an ear for dialogue, an eye for revealing details, and a keen sense of the crushing burdens of class,

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The Brainiest Club in the World

Michael Wheeler— When John Wilson Croker, First Secretary to the Admiralty, wrote to Sir Humphry Davy, the leading British scientist of the day, on March 12, 1823, he continued an earlier conversation with him: “I will take this opportunity of repeating the proposition I have before made to you about

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Deep Reading to Stay Alive

Harold Bloom— In what sense does deep reading augment life? Can it render death only another hoyden? Most literary representations of death do not portray her as being particularly boisterous. Why “her”? Is it the long cavalcade associating death and the mother? I have learned from Epicurus and Lucretius what

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Nothing is Where I Work

Eileen Myles— The second detail pertaining to the invite I received to give this talk is that I have been living in an apartment in New York for forty-two years so that’s where most of my life has occurred. My living, my thinking, my copying. It’s one of those East

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Mystics and Lovers

Arthur Green— There is only One. That is the great truth of mysticism, found within and reaching beyond all religions. That One embraces, surrounds, and fills all the infinitely varied forms that existence has taken and ever will take. We Jews call that truth out twice daily in reciting Shema‘

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The Endangered Species of the Polymath

Peter Burke— People are talking more and more about polymaths these days, but at the same time, living examples of this intellectual species are becoming more and more difficult to find. By polymath I mean, like the ancient Greeks who coined the term, someone who has mastered many intellectual disciplines,

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The White Evangelical Alliance with Donald Trump

Thomas S. Kidd— From Eisenhower to Romney, white evangelical voters had supported Republican candidates who seemed to model personal dignity and respect for religion, even if they did not have evangelical bona fides. At times Republican evangelicals have been credulous about Republican candidates, especially Richard Nixon. But 2016 found white

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